It’s natural, and even healthy, to cultivate friendships even when you’re married. But is there a way that these friendships can cause harm to your relationship?
While playful jokes and banter with a friend mean nothing to some couples, it can be warning signs for some. How can you tell if it’s time to set some ground rules with your spouse in order to avoid jealousy and suspicion to creep into your marriage? The important thing is to talk it out, and be open with your partner if their behavior towards any friend makes you in any way uncomfortable.
In his experience, psychologist and professor Michael Karson has encountered many types of couples. While some were free-willed to the point that they acted like they were still single, some couples took a more “puritan” approach, restricting any form of contact or relationship with co-workers or friends of the opposite sex. According to Dr. Karson, neither of these approaches is healthy.
He suggests asking each other (and yourselves) the following questions before proceeding to define rules that would best suit you both.
1. Do you truly trust each other?
2. What behavior of your partner could be signaling future betrayal?
3. Is your partner deserving of your trust?
4. Is there certain behavior that will embarrass your partner in your social circle?
5. Are the reasons behind setting limits reasonable? Or are you or your partner overthinking it?
Once you’ve honestly addressed these, you can move on to setting limits. Just make sure they are healthy and won’t harm your relationship.
Playful flirtation can easily develop into emotional intimacy, if you’re not careful. (photo: pexels)
Again, it depends on the two of you. Do you define flirting as merely suggestive words or overt physical contact? Dr. Karson’s advice is to also be aware of the online relationships that could easily turn into flirtation and, in some cases, infidelity.
In his work with couples, he found a particular rule helpful: Couples can be free to interact and form friendships as long as it does not feel or seem sexual in any way.
It’s also important to be self-aware, and admit if you are the one who has a tendency to be flirtatious.
How can you tell? Here are 4 simple things to ask yourself, according to the HuffingtonPost.
Are you looking forward to playful flirtation with the same person?
Do you feel the need to keep flirtatious behavior (or even your friendship with this person) a secret?
Do you feel even the slightest bit of guilt after flirting?
Do you share some form of emotional intimacy with the person you are “flirting” with?
Friendly banter can be so fun that it leads us to be dependent on it, especially if we feel our spouse is emotionally unavailable.
To you, it can simply be wanting to charm a certain person or going out of your way to joke around with an attractive co-worker. But, keep in mind that the biggest relationship killers often start with the little things. And it’s in the little things where you should look to in order to avoid future conflict in an otherwise happy and healthy relationship.
READ: Things that you do that make you an unfaithful spouse without you knowing
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