"When two people who thus discover that they are on the same secret road are of different sexes, the friendship which arises between them will very easily pass—may pass in the first half hour—into erotic love. Indeed, unless they are physically repulsive to each other or unless one or both already loves elsewhere, it is almost certain to do so sooner or later." - CS Lewis, The Four Loves
This is such a nuisance. Honestly, wouldn't it be nice if once we found our spouse our eyes were somehow veiled and every other member of the opposite sex turned into a gruesome, disfigured freak? Imagine! There would be no need to worry about where your spouse's eyes may roam when they're away from you. If only.
Unfortunately, that's not the case. In fact, I think it can sometimes be the other way around. It's kind of the "grass is greener on the other side" mentality. After looking at the same face for ten or twenty years, it might not take a lot to catch your eye. Especially if that face has started to age.
I have danced around this problem like a stinkin' ballerina, and like I said, it's a nuisance. There have been times when I have wanted to sit down for a cup of coffee with a male friend, or go to lunch, for the sole purpose of having a conversation. There are times when a discussion arises on Facebook (a terrible medium for any real talk) and I want to continue it face-to-face. Yet, every time, I get this gut/Spirit check that says, "Don't."
And I don't. I have a general rule about interactions with fellas other than my husband and family members that basically says no one-on-one stuff. There are only a handful of men who I will even text or email without copying it to their wives. I know, it sounds a little paranoid, but the reason is two-fold. One, I want to be above reproach. And two, I want to shelter the wives from even a hint of suspicion. Not only do I have my marriage to consider, but also theirs. So let's get into the reasons behind the red tape.
Satan is a crafty little devil
I've told you before that I believe Satan's favorite technique is distraction. As long as our focus is even slightly misplaced, our eyes are not fixed on Christ. And, if our eyes are not fixed on Christ, we are that much more vulnerable to the enemy's darts. Friends, I don't know about you, but my marriage is too important to risk.
It's more important than the friendships I had before I met my husband.
It's more important than the enticing conversations I could have today.
It's more important than convenience.
I know that many of you will think this is silly. I mean, we're not animals, we're grown people who should be able to control our urges. That's what the world will tell us. They would say that I don't trust myself or my spouse enough. They would tell me to grow up and stop making a big deal out of something so simple. To which I would respond, "Friends, please don't overestimate yourself."
The danger zone
My husband works in a female dominated environment. He is an ER nurse, a great one, but to my everlasting chagrin he is surrounded by women all day. Now, I trust my husband. And to the extent of my knowledge of them, I trust the women he works with. BUT, that trust does not trump their humanness. For me to say that I can safely have male friends that I hang out with apart from my husband, and I share intimate conversations with, and I am emotionally invested in, and this will pose no risk to my marriage because I can be trusted, is like saying it's okay to leave your dog alone with the Thanksgiving turkey for an hour, because he has never bothered the turkey before.
So there is a line drawn in the sand. If a strictly work relationship were to tip toe across that line, there would be a problem. There has to be accountability, and there has to be an awareness of the danger zone. We are told to flee from temptation, but that really goes against every grain in our flesh. If we stumble upon someone who we find interesting and fun to be around, our flesh says pursue a relationship, get to know them better. But therein lies the danger. What happens when you realize that this new friend is more interesting and more fun than your spouse? They're not bad to look at either. And they like you. They laugh at your jokes, when was the last time your spouse laughed at your jokes? Or asked you how your day was? Or took an interest in something that you're interested in. Or . . .
And thus begins the process.
I know you think you're strong, I know you think you're safe from awful things like affairs and divorce and scandal, but you're really not. Romans 3:10 tells us that "None is righteous, no not one." This is echoed throughout the Psalms as well. We are fallen beings, living in a fallen world. And yes! We have freedom from sin. And yes! Christ died to give us victory over our flesh.
But, we are still fallen beings, living in a still fallen world. There is no complete remedy for that, this side of heaven. So while we are here, we would be wise to be realistic. Stop testing the limits. Create some boundaries, stick to them, and make sure that you and your spouse are on the same page. Your marriage is important, so very important, don't gamble with it.
What wisdom can you share on this subject? Have you experienced any of these struggles? Do you think men and women can be "just friends"?