Monday, April 18, 2011

#213 Forbidding your husband to have female friends

Married men in Christian culture commonly experience wifely pressure to lose their female friends. Many married men outside of Christian culture feel the same pressure for the same reasons, but with different enforcement tactics.

When married couples suffer spousal insecurity or distrust the standard methods they employ include threatening, ultimatums, and passive aggression. Christian culture couples do all of these too but can also play their trump card: divine retribution.

When men of any religious or non-religious stripe get married their female friendships often become endangered, but it’s a certain breed of endangerment that’s exclusive to Christian culture. Christian culture has submerged them in the thought that all women pose a threat to fidelity and therefore to a marriage. Either by wifely influence or of his own cautious volition, the newly-minted husband becomes standoffish with the female persuasion.

Once married the husband is rarely seen without his wife hovering at his elbow. Saying little, she shadows him in the foyer before and after church and stands extra close if he talks to girls. Opposite sex relationships in Christian culture become strained around junior high, when the youth groups are segregated by gender and warned against the wiles of the other. From that point on they view each other with conflicted suspicion. Under the right circumstances they could be overtaken by their sin nature and destroy their entire future in one moment! Hence the extreme caution. The newly married friend soon becomes almost impossible to even say hello to. Once he’s unfriended you on Facebook, you’ve officially lost another friend to the marital abyss.


Still Breathing said...

Come off it Stephy, this can't possibly happen in real life. Must go - my wife's coming and she doesn't like it when I post on your blog.

Anonymous said...

So funny and true, but I wish you'd entitled this "opposite sex friends" and included some of the female perspective, as well, since CC men also pressure women to lose their male friends. I'm an ex-evangelical but when I belonged to a church, my then-boyfriend (also in the church) was so possessive that he would often physically position himself between me and any other man I happened to be having a casual conversation with.

allie said...

i had trouble with this in high school because well i was one of the boys. i had more guy friends then female friends but i soon lost them when their girlfriends gave me the stink eye. i think its sad when you are so insecure in your relationship you can't even be friends with the opposite sex. treating another women like she's some stripper/prostitute does not help your relationship. in fact i won't date a guy who doesn't have a good number of female friends, just saying.

Anonymous said...

When you lose a friend, it's made worse when it's due to something that you can't control - your gender. Because you can't fix it. You can't do anything about it.

My partner and I were mutual friends of the groom-to-be for several years. I'd helped the groom buy the engagement ring. I was in a dating couple already.

But he was told by the Church to cut off all communication with female friends. So how does this rule apply to couples? A Taliban-like approach, where you are only spoken to through your boyfriend.

I needed several counselling sessions to feel like there wasn't something wrong with me, that I wasn't an evil temptress, that I hadn't done anything wrong. All the relationships of the people involved haven't been the same since, including that with my boyfriend.

I couldn't bring myself to go the wedding. I was expected to go and watch my boyfriend be treated differently for having the same (or in fact weaker) friendship. It was a pretty damaging time. One where people prioritised religious obligation over the logic of their actions.

Karen said...

Very tangentially related to your post on couples: when you have the chance check out Holly Furtick's blog. Yes, the one married to Steven.

She's rallying the troops to gear up for their 3D Easter by invoking how the opposition is so fierce. I don't think so! Charlotte, NC is a city of churches on every corner. She's in sympathetic territory.

This is something she does every year; she's on her third year.

Anonymous said...

Stories like this make me so glad I married a logical person who recognizes that friendships with people who happen to be the gender you are sexually attracted to are only a danger to a marriage if the marriage is in danger.

Of course these friendships are not particularly comparable to the one you have with your spouse. There are different sorts of relationships out there.

If you're finding more emotional resonance and physical comfort in your friendship than you do in your marriage then this means you need to work on your marriage because it's a sign of a lack of intimacy with your spouse.

This might mean that you see less of this friend but it doesn't mean that you summarily cut them off as though they were willfully trying to destroy your relationship.

No one can destroy your relationship without you or your partner allowing them to.

Tony D said...

"Saying little, she shadows him in the foyer before and after church and stands extra close if he talks to girls."

Um, don't you mean...narthex?

JD Levinson said...

this is yet another unfortunate symptom of the Every-Man's-Battle-ization of Christian culture-- the idea that male sexuality is a lurking beast that must be tamed at every turn (whereas women are pure, chaste damsels awaiting rescue-- unless they're over 25 and single, then they're just harlots). for a culture that doesn't believe in evolution, they sure give a lot of credence to the overpowering influence of primordial urges.

stephy said...

Brilliant JD...yes I agree.

Aaran said...

My fiancée thinks I have a crush on you Steph

stephy said...

Did she say you can't read my blog anymore?

Anonymous said...

My friend and I were JUST talking about this. How many of our college friends got stupid when they got married. Always talking about their "hubbies" and "wifies" on Facebook & ignoring all of their single friends. I was specifically lamenting how many of my good guy friends disappeared.

Aside from what you've pointed out in their folly (both the women & men) I've found I was often a supplemental girlfriend. This is SO common in Christian circles. Supplemental and emotional dating.
Because God forbid we carry on like rational & thoughtful human beings. Instead, we kiss dating goodbye and with dating, the ability to use our frontal lobes.

The interesting thing is, they don't even realize they've done so. Lucky for me, I've identified the pattern & most likely offenders, as well as rebounders (gah!). But it doesn't mean it doesn't sting when someone you invested a great deal of time, patience, and platonic intimacy with disappears in a haze of honeymooning, rules, and religiosity...

Ryssa said...

A few months before one of my Christian friends got married, he posted a rant on facebook about how wrong and offensive it was that his ale friends would ask his fiance to hang out with them without asking my friend to be there too. When I suggested that if he trusts his fiance and his friends, then there shouldn't be a problem, I was shouted down by his other Facebook friends for criticizing their god-honoring relationship and everyone was praising them for being such a godly couple and discussing how jealousy was healthy in a relationship. Christian culture is a crazy world indeed.

TooSensitiveBoy said...


Eighty-three percent of SCCL readers have a crush on Stephy. Myself included. I'll bet your fiance recognizes your crush because she too crushes a lil' on Stephanie.

I am surprised her husband still allows her to blog when every post only garners more potential suitors

stephy said...

You're very nice and very silly. And I like the "allows" me to blog bit. When we got married I promised to obey him, but it turns out I was lying. Luckily he's good with that.

Tony D said...

I find the idea that one spouse can "allow" (or forbid, for that matter) the other to do something deeply offensive. I think if it's gotten to the point where you're using words like that you're in deep doo-doo, maritally speaking.

Good thing I'm the Wrong Kind of Christian (h/t to SWPL).

stephy said...

I find it kind of hilarious because it's too ridiculous.

Aaran said...

no, she just rolls her eyes when I talk about it, probably because I go on about it for too long.

Jen said...

This is one of my least favorite trends in Christian Culture. I agree that JD's comment is brilliant and right on.

ceezeebee said...

I'm actually about to win a lot of money because of this very phenomenon. I made a bet at a wedding two years ago that my (then future) husband and I would not be jealous of one another's opposite sex friends. And we're not. Because we're reasonable people. Easiest bet I ever won.

Still Breathing said...

Stephy, Just over 30 years ago a dewy eyed young woman told me that she wanted to promise to obey. I said I didn't want her making a promise I knew she couldn't keep and, after a few 'discussions', she reluctantly agreed with me. She is now older and wiser and admits that I was right - probably the only time in my marriage that she has admitted that in public!

Wynne said...

I suppose when the vows say "forsaking all others" that includes friends of the opposite sex. I underwent this kind of thing several years ago, and it still stings.

Gay Ryan said...

I believe your readers crush on you. I wouldn't mind waking up to your face every day. No sex though.

A Day Without Me said...

Currently making my way through every page of this blog, and I had to comment on this one since I can relate somewhat. One of my male friends from college got married, and now I am stuck being Facebook friends with his wife even though I am bored to tears with all the baby pictures and idiotic political drivel emanating from her FB page. My mother says, "Why not unfriend her?", so I must patiently explain that then I would not be allowed to be FB friends with my friend, a.k.a. her husband, either.

Anyway, I echo a much-earlier commenter who pointed out that the guys will get super-suspicious and jealous about girlfriends and wives having male friends.

Anonymous said...

Cross-Atlantic passer-by picking up this blog from a Google search. So witty, so much good spirit! I immediately crushed on Stephy which kind of undermines my intention to express agreement with the message. Hear my testimony: The problem wears away with age, a pleasant experience.

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Sarah said...

There must be a reason why the divorce rate for Christians, pastors and non Christians is the same. People think being a Christian protects you from the sins or weakness if the flesh but spiritual connection can lead other connections. You have to be married to understand the dynamics of marriage where you have your up and down periods, it's in those down times when it's easy to run to a person if the opposite sex to Gil the areas that your spouse isn't meeting. So, marriage shouldn't be taken lightly, if you want to hang out with people of the opposite sex, stay single, marriage is a commitment and takes work sometimes and the single people of the opposite aren't able to understand those dynamics and often have their own agendas that won't support your marriage. For non Christians, Simon Cowell and the mother if his child are a perfect example of how it can and often doesn't work.


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