how it happens

Posted: July 15th, 2010 | Filed under: life | 15 Comments »

Opposite sex friendships aren’t limited to being between two people. They’re also not like same sex friendships.

They pull in the attention of significant others and there is a delicate balance that may be hard to keep.

You confide in a friend. You build up a friend.
You experience certain aspects of life with a friend and those experiences make the friendship grow.
There are inside jokes. Feelings. Emotions. Bonds.
What if they’re better at being a friend than your significant other?
What happens when they start to become a distraction?
What about when something happens and you wish you could have the ear of your friend because they would respond better than your spouse?
Frustration digs his feet into your marriage.
Thoughts wander to the other side of your walls.
What if you find more in common with your friend than you do your spouse?
Disrespect leaves crumbs in your bed.
With the distraction of someone else to confide in, there’s no real reason to fix the parts of your marriage that are breaking. By the time you notice them, it requires too much attention. And by this point, you have to search for reasons to fight. Reasons that have nothing to do with love.
This is the point when you wonder how this happened.

What could you have done different?

Are you friends with their spouse? It doesn’t matter how you know your friend, when it spills into your personal life, you should be able to be their spouses friend, too. If you’re not their spouses friend, then you’re not their friend.

If their spouse doesn’t connect with you when you try, there is a reason for it. You don’t get to blow past it and you’re not entitled to an explanation. It doesn’t matter if they’re wrong or crazy. It ends there.

As a married person, your thoughts, actions and voice should be filtered through your spouse. Not because you’re co-dependent or insecure, but because you’re one.

You represent each other when you’re out in the world. Don’t divide yourself in public.

I cringe when women talk about their husbands like they’re children. I don’t care if you’re right. Don’t make a woman who sees the treasure you have feel sorry for him and try to sooth his bruised ego. You don’t know what people can see. You see everything, the rest of the world only sees a piece and it’s probably the best piece. Protect him. If he goes down, so do you.

I’m annoyed when men talk about their ‘nagging’ wives. Where does your marriage win if you succeed in making the rest of the world feel sorry for you?  Just because you don’t want to make her feel adored doesn’t mean that somebody else wouldn’t be happy to.

Don’t let anyone else see the gap between you. There are too many people who don’t see your spouse the way you do, they see your spouse the way they are longing to be seen. Don’t let a ‘friend’ in the vacant space. Fight to bridge it.

If you find yourself in the emotional mess I described in the beginning, try tracing your steps backward and make new choices. You’ll still suffer a loss. It’s your choice as far as what you want to lose.


15 Comments on “how it happens”

  1. 1 Jason said at 3:36 am on July 15th, 2010:

    FANTASTIC post.

  2. 2 Clare said at 3:45 am on July 15th, 2010:

    So wonderful Serena. Hit it on the head. My husband and I were just discussing these things last night with another friend.

  3. 3 Melissa | Madabella: said at 5:10 am on July 15th, 2010:

    So many good things here…I am learning these things I wish I knew sooner. So encouraged by you…

  4. 4 Serena Woods said at 5:13 am on July 15th, 2010:

    Thanks, Jason. 🙂

    Clare: Thanks. 🙂 Hopefully people can see how easy it happens.

    Melissa: Awesome. 🙂

  5. 5 mike foster said at 6:10 am on July 15th, 2010:

    awesome post serena! great insights! i couldnt agree more with what youre saying here about being one. so true!

  6. 6 Serena Woods said at 6:33 am on July 15th, 2010:

    Thanks, Mike!

  7. 7 Cherie said at 7:59 am on July 15th, 2010:

    Amen Sister!!!

  8. 8 Shannon said at 11:34 am on July 15th, 2010:

    good stuff here!!!! – out of my heart would easily flow negatives about my husband, just little jabs that i'd try to make sound funny… learned a hard lesson about valuing him and the reality that we are knitted together as one!

  9. 9 Serena Woods said at 2:21 pm on July 15th, 2010:

    thanks, cherie!

    Shannon: Yes! Knitted together as one. 🙂

  10. 10 Dan Brennan said at 4:02 pm on July 15th, 2010:


    A good post on the sprialing of negative thoughts/feelings emerging as one begins an inappropriate contrast between one's spouse and opposite-sex friend. But, it doesn't have to happen that way.

    I think you raise some great thoughts on nurturing the beauty of our spouses. I have written a book on Christians who learn to practice delight in their spouses as well as learn to develop the capacity of healthy, close friendships with the opposite-sex.

    Sacred Unions, Sacred Passions: Engaging the Mystery of Friendship Between Men and Women.

  11. 11 Adam said at 7:13 am on July 16th, 2010:

    Great post, Serena. However, don't you think this idea absolves people of their main responsibility -the commitment itself?

    Regardless of how badly a woman wants to sooth my ego after my wife seemingly belittles me, I have made a commitment to my wife and the responsibility is mine to uphold that commitment.

    Likewise, no matter how adored some other man will make my wife feel if I voice the frustrating realities of co-habitation in an insensitive way, the responsibility is hers to uphold the commitment she made to me.

    It's easy to say "he didn't make me feel loved" or "she just never appreciated me" as the reasons for an affair. But, ultimately it is just blaming someone else.

  12. 12 Serena Woods said at 7:47 am on July 16th, 2010:

    Adam: Your concern for blame shifting and having a sense of commitment and responsibility to nourish the commitment are valid.

    However, I chose to show how easy it is to fall into the trap of an emotional affair. It's a polaroid snapshot rather than a sweeping panoramic view.

    I'm not addressing people who need a sense of freedom from responsibility. They can fabricate their own justifications better than I. I am, however, addressing those who may be somewhere in the beginning stages of an emotional affair, but don't recognize the signs.

    I tend to not speak to people as though they are where they should be. I prefer to speak to people where they actually are. My experience is that you can know what you should do as well as anyone, but still do what you shouldn't.

    Again, we're discussing a subject that requires more depth/words/etc. to exhaust with no promise of mutual satisfaction. But, I hope you get what I'm saying.

    Thanks for commenting. 🙂

  13. 13 Janelle said at 5:55 pm on July 16th, 2010:

    I don't think knowing 'how it happens' absolves anyone at all. I appreciate the candor in which you write. It's a wake up call. It's a bitter memory. It's an acknowledgment that it can, does and will happen to so many people. I see you taking your understanding and mistakes and using them to enrich and enlighten those if us who need it and experience it, but don't have the words. You show us where your feet have stepped so we can follow them out of our own pit. You write with honesty and grace and I am one reader who hardly comments, but is always blessed and challenged.

  14. 14 Serena Woods said at 9:48 am on July 17th, 2010:

    Janelle: That's a huge compliment. Thanks. 🙂

  15. 15 Adam said at 4:21 pm on July 19th, 2010:

    Hey, don't get me wrong. I totally dig or I wouldn't read. 🙂 I just have a different perspective.

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