Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Perfect storm

I've talked about this before, but this is one of those issues that you can come at from all sorts of angles. Men and women - can they really be just friends?

Let's just say a perfectly happy couple meets a single guy. They all have things in common, including kids about the same age and in the same neighborhood, so they hit it off right away. Over time, they develop a close friendship.

But what if the single guy starts to develop a stronger connection with the woman? I think if the marriage remains healthy, that's fine. I also think it's fine if the husband knows that the friendship is there, and all three understand the boundaries.

But any marriage can hit a rough spot at any time. So what if the marriage hits a rough patch at the exact same time the single-guy's friendship with the wife takes off on its own?

Don't get caught in the rain.
That's like the perfect storm of trouble.

I've said before - there are no rules when it comes to relationships. Every person is different, so every couple is different - and that means every relationship is, too. But just like anything else, there are fundamentals that always apply: Communication is key, trust is an absolute requirement - and a suffering relationship needs to be nurtured, not undermined.

It's one thing to complain to your girlfriends about an inconsiderate husband, or how you wish he was more romantic. They'll empathize, and let you sort through your feelings.

But complaining to a guy-friend? Without even realizing it, he may start to shadow your view of your husband with his own "take." That's especially true if he has his own feelings about love, marriage - or you.

I absolutely think men and woman can have healthy, platonic friendships. I even think that's possible when one (or both) of them is in a romantic relationship. I think the trick is to not only set boundaries, but pay attention to how the needs of your relationship may change as you go through ups and downs.

After all, we can handle most any storm. The trick is to be prepared, and know what you need to protect yourself.

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