Can Married Women Befriend Married Men?

Can Married Women Befriend Married Men?

Cathy Hanauer is the editor of The Bitch in the House. Daniel Jones is the editor of The Bastard on the Couch. They have been married for 14 years and together they provide a his and hers take on questions about sex, love, dating and relationships. This round: being friends with the opposite sex.

Question: My husband and I are newly married and share most of our friends. But recently I made a male friend who my husband doesn't get along with—in fact, he seems suspicious! What's the best way to cultivate this new friendship on my own? –Arianna, 32

Her Take: Unless your husband's one of those Neanderthal horror shows, jealous of any guy who smiles your way, ask yourself a couple of questions:
1) Why is he suspicious? Might he see something you don't, or won't, acknowledge—say, that this dude is hitting on you?
2) Why are you so anxious to pursue a friendship with a guy your husband can't stand? Might you be carrying a little torch for the gentleman yourself?

It's not that I think marriage should prohibit either spouse from having the friendships they want. (Au contraire.) And the beginning of married life can be a time to set ground rules—just because you swapped rings doesn't mean you've morphed brains and have to like all the same things.

Ask your husband what he dislikes about this man. If his objections seem unwarranted, tell him point-blank that you're friends with the guy, there's nothing to worry about, and you hope he won't act like a toddler about it. If you can't say that in all honesty or keep this new friendship above board, though—sorry, but you won't get my blessing on it, either.

His Take: Might as well say it: Opposite sex friendships in marriage can be tricky. It's hard to pursue them even in the most innocent ways without making your spouse feel like something more is going on. An office lunch date is one thing. Going to the movies with some guy your husband can't stand is something else.

So I guess it depends on what you mean when you say you'd like to "cultivate" this new friendship on your own. By doing what? Sending text messages to each other? Going to hockey games? Playing tennis?

The truth is, marriage shouldn't mean the end of friendships, and many marriages suffer when they become too insular. It's possible your husband is insecure and paranoid, and if so, you might want to reassure him of your love. Tell him, "Luke is no threat. He just happens to share my passion for tennis (or whatever), which you don't, so who cares if we play sometimes?"

But if you want your marriage to last, make sure your shared passion remains on the court.