I am a married man. I have a female colleague whom I work with on occasions for certain projects, and we get along very well. She is supportive of the work I do, and my feeling is reciprocal. Is it okay for me to have a casual or close friendship with my female colleague? Would eating a meal alone with her regularly, say once or twice a week, be perceived as suspicious? Is avoiding being friendly with her the safest way of steering clear from an undesirable relationship?
A former client of mine struck-up a friendship with a divorced woman and they started having chats over drinks, and then later on, late evening suppers. They shared common interests. My client was firm that theirs was a strictly platonic relationship and that he had no interest to leave his wife. I suggested that if theirs was only a friendship, then he should introduce his friend to his wife. He was taken aback. Somehow, he knew that his wife would find the friendship less than acceptable. Would your spouse have any strong thoughts or reaction to your friendship?
When considering the appropriateness for married individuals to share a close relationship with persons of the opposite gender, this question makes no distinction as to whether both are married or not, or even if they are happily or unhappily married. This is because when we are married, it does not mean that we will not find others attractive or be drawn emotionally or romantically to them. However, with marriage, we do not give in to these impulses. We do so because we want to protect the marriage and keep our feelings exclusive and therefore special to our spouses.
You might also want to consider what makes your friendship with this person so meaningful. Is it meeting a need that is absent in your marriage? To be clear, our spouses may not meet all of our needs. Some may not have the same recreational interests as us or be able to talk deeply on topics of discussion that we feel passionately about. This does not mean that there is a flaw in your marriage. But friendships with those who share common interests should not replace the close bond that should exist between marriage partners. Be watchful if you begin to fantasise about this friend or begin to do special things with her that you would not do with your spouse.
Finally, as believers, we should be mindful that our public behaviour, not just our private thoughts, are also open to scrutiny. This last point reminds us that our lives are not our own to live according to our own needs and wishes. We are stewards of the gifts of life and relationships.