You Make the Call: Spouses and Boy Friends

Not “boyfriend”: Boy. Friend.

In an Ensign article, Kenneth Matheson speaks about spiritual and emotional fidelity.

Emotional infidelity…occurs when emotions and thoughts are focused on someone other than a spouse….Emotional infidelity doesn’t usually happen suddenly; rather, it occurs gradually—often imperceptibly at first. This is one reason why those involved often feel innocent of any wrongdoing….Relationships with others of the opposite sex are not in and of themselves a problem or a fracture of fidelity. In fact, many of our meaningful relationships with neighbors, Church friends, co-workers, and others have a balanced and important place in our lives. However, there is a danger zone that people may cross into if they are not watchful.

This strikes me as perfectly true and wise. However, Matheson makes another comment, which I am not quite so sure about:

A marriage can be placed in a precarious situation when one spouse forms a relationship with someone outside the marriage and begins to choose the company of that person or frequently shares personal information with that person rather than with a spouse. Furthermore, the problem can occur with either husband or wife. “Jane” could just as easily be “John.”

I feel somewhat dubious about this, because it does not fit my own experience, nor the observed experience of many other people. (I should note I am talking about the mainstream American church; norms of judgment may operate very differently in wards within a different cultural context.) That is, I have many “Girl Friends”–friends that are female and to which I am not married. Some of them are online friends, some of them are professional associates, some of them are community friends, some are all three. With more than a few of them, I have spent a fair amount of time communicating–in some cases privately, in some cases over meals, in some cases at distant conferences–about shared interests, mutual goals, and sometimes just gossip. In this, I am not–so far as I have been able to determine amongst those members of the church in similar professional positions–at all unusual. And so far as I know, my wife has never been worried about the possible implications of these professional and personal friendships, and neither has anyone else. It is, on the contrary, assumed to be normal.

But put the shoe on the other foot, and the situation–at least in my observation–arguably changes. A female spouse–most particularly a non-working spouse; perhaps that’s the key difference here–with a “Boy Friend” (a male friend who is not her husband) operates under a certain amount of presumed suspicion. Where did she meet him? Facebook? E-mail? What do they share? Are they book lovers? Reminiscing over high school memories? What are they doing when they meet for lunch? Just chatting? Or something…more?

Why would anyone even find themselves thinking along such lines in the first place? Obviously there is infidelity, of many different sorts, and obviously such infidelity–assuming one values the marriage relationship–is to be guarded against. And yet, it is also a near-universally acknowledged (though almost never vocalized) truth about adult relationships that you can love someone dearly, prefer their company over most anyone else, and yet still not always think of them as one’s ideal conversation partner at every moment of every day. (I study political philosophy, and love talking about it; there is a limit to how much joy I can take from talking about it with my wife in comparison with someone else–perhaps a female someone else–whom I know. My wife reads young adult literature, and loves talking about it; she encounters similar limits in the joy she could have discussing it with me in comparison with some other men she knows.) Why the ease in assuming that the former case, while obviously capable of leading to temptation, is not fundamentally problematic, whereas in the latter case, a perception of potential problems and temptations seems to immediately arise?

Now, I can see a couple of ways in which this conversation could proceed. We could talk about how men and women are different, and how the forms of socialization which implicitly govern interactions men may have through work-related activities with women they are not married to are consequently different from those forms which attend to women similarly interacting with men they are not married to, and that therefore certain concerns are justified. Conversely, we could attack the prior sentence root and branch, deny that there is any substantive (as opposed to merely conventional) reason to see male-female friendships as any different from female-male friendships, point to numerous examples of such friendships which counter the dominant “things are different for women and/or their male friends” stereotypes, and leave it at that. Or we could bat it back and forth between both positions, scouting out all the possible caveats and exceptions in between. Any and all such discussions could be enlightening. For now though, I’m just looking for information. Do you think differently about men who have professional and/or personal friendships with women they are not married to (“Girl Friends”), than you do about women who have the same with men (“Boy Friends”)? If so, why? If you don’t–that is, if you take Matheson’s position–does that really fit with what you’ve observed, experienced, and felt? Because, when I reflect upon the friendships my wife and I both have with different people, it doesn’t seem to fit particularly well at all.

Comments

  1. Boy/girl. Friend can be an appropriate relationship. It is apparent to anyone, including the spouse, everything is on the up and up.

    Emotional affairs are of a different sort. A fair amount of touching happens. She leans in to straighten his tie, he brushes up against her leg. Care is taken to not let a spouse know how much time (email, texting, one on one etc…) is spent with this person.

    People in these relationships spend a lot of time complaining about their spouse. They confide in their “friend” in place of their spouse. These sorts of friendships are harmful to marriage relationships, even though sex may never occur, emotional affairs destroy marriages .

  2. ClaudiaHen says:

    I agree with #1. In my personal experience, men/women friendships are rarely balanced, meaning that one person wants it to be more, but keeps quiet about it because it’s obvious that the other person doesn’t want to go there. I admit I’m a bit jaded about this though, but I haven’t ever seen a male/female relationship get close without the element of romance on one side or the other.

    My personal measure is that I would never behave in a way or do anything that I wouldn’t feel 100% comfortable with if my spouse was standing right next to me.

    I’m also irrationally jealous. It took me four years of breaking down barriers and patience to gain emotional intimacy with my husband and I am not likely to be tolerant of another woman trying to share that. Of course, I can’t be all things to my husband, and I get that, but I’m the one who fills his emotional needs. Casual friendships and work relationships are fine, but heaven help him if he wants to hang out with another woman on a regular basis and leaves me out.

  3. Aaron R. says:

    “(I study political philosophy, and love talking about it; there is a limit to how much joy I can take from talking about it with my wife in comparison with someone else–perhaps a female someone else–whom I know. My wife reads young adult literature, and loves talking about it; she encounters similar limits in the joy she could have discussing it with me in comparison with some other men she knows.)”

    I recognized this same situation in my own relationship as well. My wife and I also have other friends with whom we explore these parts of our personality that don’t overlap. For my part, if I ever have a single person of the opposite sex with whom I share a particular interest, I try my best to incorporate that person into my relationship with my wife. What I mean is, I try and help us all become friends.

    JA Benson – I would imagine that the damage of this emotional infidelity is acted out via its secrecy. If all parties are aware and happy I see no reason why it should necessarily be destructive.

  4. Naismith says:

    I’m confused about how it all adds up…..

    For every male who has a female friend, isn’t there a woman who has a male friend?

  5. StillConfused says:

    I routinely have LDS men who want to be my “friend”. I never know what this means. So I just tell them that I don’t understand the purpose of that.

  6. #4

    Not necessarily. I am married. I have a number of very close female friends, all associated with my work. None of my female friends are married. My wife is aware of all of my female friends, knows the extent and nature of our friendships, and has never even hinted at any level of jealousy or concern. I have never cheated on my wife, and I have never had what I would consider to be an “emotional affair.” I have never been closer to any of my female friends than I am with my wife.

    My wife, on the other hand, has no close male friends, married or otherwise. We have discussed this and she told me she feels “uncomfortable” about having any close male friendships. I have to admit that I share her discomfort. I don’t really know why I share her discomfort. It does not seem entirely rational.

    I have had a number of female friends who got married during our friendship. Invariably, our friendship ended quite soon thereafter. It has always been a mutual thing.

    I wonder how common my experience is. In other words, do many married women choose not to have close male friends, while many married and unmarried women choose to be friends?

  7. “And so far as I know, my wife has never been worried about the possible implications of these professional and personal friendships, and neither has anyone else. It is, on the contrary, assumed to be normal.”

    I think this is normal to not have worried about it. But this doesn’t mean it can’t cause a problem. Example, the spouse of one of my good friends has a friend who she is very close with. She takes more trips with this friend than with her spouse, she tells this friend secrets she would never tell her spouse. While I don’t think anyone is concerned that there is a physical relationship, this emotion relationship has weakened the marital relationship. I view it kind of like the wedge left in the notch of the tree, that has grown over and imperceptibly, but substantially weakened its ability to weather the storm.

  8. Aaron,

    My wife and I also have other friends with whom we explore these parts of our personality that don’t overlap. For my part, if I ever have a single person of the opposite sex with whom I share a particular interest, I try my best to incorporate that person into my relationship with my wife. What I mean is, I try and help us all become friends.

    This is our experience as well. How well does it work? Hmmm…the track record is mixed. I have tried incorporate Melissa into projects and friendships–sometimes very close friendships–and she has done the same for me, and I think that is the right thing to do. But honesty requires that I admit that if Melissa stopped e-mailing and joking and visiting with every male person that I find only moderately worth my time, simply because of the potential harm that could theoretically come to our marriage through it, it would be very hurtful to her. Is it her fault that I don’t get her friend’s sense of humor? She doesn’t expect me to refuse to meet with female colleagues at conferences just because she’s not interested in talking about a fascinating panel discussion we were both part of the night before.

    Naismith,

    For every male who has a female friend, isn’t there a woman who has a male friend?

    Yes, but I’m framing the discussion in relation the accepted standards for marriage relationships which Matheson, for example, laid out in his Ensign article. Everyone agrees that there is no problem with my having a female friend, or Melissa having a male friend, in the context of married couples or neighbors interacting normally. But things change–or at least, in my view they appear to–when you’re talking about married people being friends with single people, or with a single member of another married couple. Either of us could be capable of emotional infidelity, but the fact that I privately meet with female friends and colleagues (“girl friends”) professionally all the time does not seem to challenge many preconceived notions, but if my wife were to privately meet with male friends or associates (“boy friends”) it would suggest greater concern. Does that make sense, or do you think my observations are wholly incorrect?

  9. Naismith, what JMaxx says in comment #6 is another way of stating the same observation.

  10. MikeInWeHo says:

    “My wife, on the other hand, has no close male friends, married or otherwise. We have discussed this and she told me she feels “uncomfortable” about having any close male friendships. I have to admit that I share her discomfort. I don’t really know why I share her discomfort. It does not seem entirely rational.”

    She needs some gay male friends. Seriously, we were kinda born for that kind of friendship.

  11. I think the difference really is about having a job. If you’re a SAHM, having a male friend work best if there’s some reason you interact other than being kindred souls. Because otherwise, all that compatibility with no substance can throw everything out of proportion. Being on the same project of some kind helps with proportion. I’ll guessing that Russell’s online friends/community friends/professional friends all have that element.

    Being in the same ward can provide that project-like background. I’ve had some great heart-to-heart conversations with guys in my ward I consider my friends. But we didn’t have them over some pre-arranged lunch. They happen serendipitiously, because you’re already friends. I wish I’d figured out before I was 35, that it’s actually quite safe and good and normal to have male friends in the ward.

  12. #10

    She does like that really flaming guy from Will and Grace.

  13. I think one of the keys is “in place of” or “instead of”. If there is anything you confide in a friend, whatever the gender, that you feel you can’t or won’t tell your spouse, there is a problem. It isn’t necessarily the friend, but it is at least your relationship with your spouse.

  14. JMaxx #6: I’m glad you mentioned friendships that come to a natural end, or almost entirely taper off, when the single person marries. I think there’s something about getting married that tends to reshuffle the social deck. Or there’s some kind of mentoring going on.

  15. I think the difference really is about having a job. If you’re a SAHM, having a male friend works best if there’s some reason you interact other than being kindred souls.

    I think your observation is correct, Johnna, but let me ask: what do you think can fit in the place of “job” in this sentence? Volunteer work? A group blog? Anything? I’m genuinely curious, which is one of the reasons I didn’t highlight the point the original post. Maybe it really is the case that our late-modern capitalist work environments are uniquely suited for cross-gender friendships, and that they can’t be replicated anywhere else. Because if they can, then why couldn’t a mutual engagement with the duties and pleasures of a neighborhood association or a book club to the same thing? (The fact there is a vague church policy which generally forbids unmarried people of different genders sharing callings suggests that the church doesn’t believe any such friendships outside the inevitable ones which form in specific work environment should be encouraged.)

  16. I think naivete plays a large role in this. When I first married, my wife had never lived outside of the U-bubble, had never had a career, and didn’t know that there is no such thing as an uninterested single (straight) male friend. (Oh you might disagree with this statement, but I pretty strongly believe I’d have a better chance finding a unicorn than a UISMF). At the time, I would have felt a little nervous if she started cavorting with a SMF that I didn’t know very well. Now she’s a little more exposed to the world, a little more jaded, a little less naive. I wouldn’t much care if she had a male friend, I think she’d know where to draw lines.
    Unfortunately, I think a large number of women, married or otherwise (not saying majority, I don’t know, but a large number) especially in our church, probably fall under the naive category. Just sayin’.

  17. Sidebottom says:

    I’d submit that emotional infidelity isn’t necessarily restricted to opposite-sex relationships. Close relationships with friends, siblings, and even parents can stray into emotional infidelity regardless of the genders of those involved. That’s not to say that marriage requires giving up any prior relationships or forbids close friendships. The spouse just needs to be sure that his/her other relationships do not come at the expense of emotional intimacy (or developing emotional intimacy) with their companion.

  18. 17 I totally agree, I have seen a number of relationships with parents, friends of the same sex, siblings, children, etc. take precedence over marriage, and its always damaging.
    I think relationships outside of marriage are vital to the success of the marriage, but I think they always need to come second to the spouse in terms of emotional intimacy.

  19. “At the time, I would have felt a little nervous if she started cavorting with a SMF that I didn’t know very well.”

    Cavorting? I think you should get more than a little nervous about cavorting. There’s just no excuse for cavorting whatsoever.

  20. I don’t know when Matheson wrote this passage. But no writer can ever use the words “danger zone” in social literature again unless they want the reader to drift into Kenny Logins, the Ice Man, and Tom Cruise each time. Just sayin’.

    I’m not sure there’s such a thing as a steady, emotionally-neutral, mutual “platonic friendship” between adult heterosexual males and females. Sure, each can have acquaintances, FB “friends”, colleagues, friends at work, and the like. But calling each other each day, texting, e-mailing, having lunch often, and sharing personal experiences reflect void, want, and loneliness stemming from any other relationship(s) they might have. The other relationships (or total lack thereof) in their lives are obviously unfulfilling in some way (emotionally, intellectually, sexually).

    Do I think differently about males in these relationships than I do females? No. Pain is no respecter of gender; we all feel it. We all want to eliminate it. Same with loneliness. We all have the same root problem, pain, but males and females approach it differently, I think, because of our differing primal roles and strengths and weaknesses. But both male/female are just trying to constantly eliminate and reduce pain and survive. That’s what equally motivates us.

    Voids and pain are not just filled by other people and relationships either. Escapes and pain-massaging can come in so many different forms: sports, literature (Twilight in particular lol), porn, alcohol, work, church callings, etc. For example, I worked with an LDS guy who, I am certain, “worked” (played internet at work) late all the time ) because he didn’t want to go home each night to a chaotic home and help her out. This is a particularly easy one for LDS guys, I think, because we are the “providers” right? Major pain there.

    If spouses were as open and honest with each other about the pain they are experiencing in their relationship and have the fortitude and security to address the pain together then I’m not sure they would be drawn to other sources to fill voids.

    Am I projecting yet?

  21. This is an issue that I have been thinking a lot about recently, because through school and work I have become close to many male friends that I like a great deal and spend more time with than I do my husband, because he is always at work elsewhere. It is hard for me not to experience enjoying things with other men as something to feel guilty over.

    On the other hand, I think that it is maybe unrealistic to have a model of emotion “fidelity” that is understood to exclude developing preferences for people in addition to one’s spouse. I’m a highly social person, and I need to meet other people to fulfill my emotional needs. But I don’t see my care for other people as detracting from the love I feel for my husband.

    Part of the problem that I experience as a Mormon is that as a church culture, we have practically no healthy model of non-romantic male-female relationships. I would be interested to know if people from cultures where there are more male-female friendships share these feelings of anxiety.

  22. “I would be interested to know if people from cultures where there are more male-female friendships share these feelings of anxiety.”

    I would be interested to know if cultures where there are more male-female friendships than in our society actually exist. I suspect that modern American and Northern European societies are the most open to male-female friendships that have ever existed.

  23. I have no issue with people being friends with those of the opposite gender outside of their marriage. Like you said… often times a spouse isn’t the ideal person to blah blah blah to about a favorite hobbie. I know I (for one) get tired of hearing about World of Warcraft, but my husband has a friend who is a girl that he LOVES to talk to those things about, and that is awesome.

    Here is the sticky point in the quote for me:
    “frequently shares personal information with that person rather than with a spouse”

    This indicates that the person is not comfortable sharing it with their spouse. I can understand if they know the spouse isn’t interested in it and therefore don’t talk to their spouse about it, it’s when it becomes something you have to hide from your spouse that I think the real problem starts.

  24. 22: I was referring to outside of Mormon culture–not outside of North America.

  25. Kevin Barney says:

    My wife has boy friends in the spheres of art and music. I’ll admit it took a little getting used to in the beginning, but that was a long time ago. I no longer give it a second thought. Nor does she care that I have girl friends in the spheres of my interests.

  26. I admit that I don’t understand the problem with male-female friendships. I remember a guy on my mission who would refuse to give a ride to a sister without his or her spouse present. He said that he knew someone who did this, and they ended up having an affair and both getting excommunicated. But, to me, that ignores a lot of other factors that go into play.

    Some of my very best friends are girls. My wife has never seen anything wrong with this. I also work in public education, which means the vast majority of my colleagues are women. (I also have several male friends – it isn’t as if I just hang out with women.) I have given them rides, gone to their homes to help them fix computer problems, and even gone shopping with them. I’ve never seen this as a problem, and neither does my wife.

    My wife, on the other hand, doesn’t have many male friends, but that is more because she is incredibly reserved anyway, and has a very tight circle of friends.

    JMaxx, I think that Natalie was speaking of those outside the Mormon culture, not the Western European culture.

    o

  27. #2 “In my personal experience, men/women friendships are rarely balanced, meaning that one person wants it to be more, but keeps quiet about it because it’s obvious that the other person doesn’t want to go there.”

    My experience as well, unfortunately. I’ve seen some friendships that I have to presume were otherwise, as far as I know. (In these cases, the spouses of the male-female friendship were heavily involved in the overall friendship. That matters — a lot.)

    “I admit I’m a bit jaded about this though, but I haven’t ever seen a male/female relationship get close without the element of romance on one side or the other.”

    I’m a bit jaded about this because I was the recipient of the unwelcome element of romance from the other side, and this from a fairly casual (married) work friend who I sometimes went to lunch with with (and talked mostly business) with my wife’s knowledge and blessing. Absolutely no degrees of inappropriate behavior on either side until a sudden and shockingly bold “feeler” question sent via email under semi-innocent pretenses.

    It was a real board to the back of the head. During the first 16 years of my marriage, I would have told you that platonic friendships were easy enough to maintain, as long as you stayed self-aware and sufficiently guarded in your actions and feelings. The question is, how do you know the OTHER friend is equally careful?

    I still trust myself in this regard as much as I ever did, but henceforth I don’t think I’ll ever be able to trust a female friend in quite the same context again. And I would advise any other married person to second-guess their assumptions about an opposite-gender friend’s feelings and intentions.

    Just because you are not having an emotional affair doesn’t mean the other party is in the same boat.

  28. “Absolutely no degrees of inappropriate behavior on either side until a sudden and shockingly bold “feeler” question sent via email under semi-innocent pretenses.”

    Of course this could have come from a friend of either gender. One of my best female friends (I served with her in Primary) turned out to be a lesbian.

    So I am not sure that the person’s gender is even relevant.

  29. Alex,

    Some of my very best friends are girls. My wife has never seen anything wrong with this. I also work in public education, which means the vast majority of my colleagues are women….My wife, on the other hand, doesn’t have many male friends, but that is more because she is incredibly reserved anyway, and has a very tight circle of friends.

    I hear this a lot. Are we running up against a simple fact of how men and women develop, both socially and sexually: that men are, more or less, expected to gregarious and public, and women are expected to be intimate and private? And hence, we evaluate married-man-with-female-friends relationships differently than married-woman-with-male-friends relationships? Or is it really just that Mormon culture tends to skew towards a certain sort of female being the model?

  30. “But things change–or at least, in my view they appear to–when you’re talking about married people being friends with single people, or with a single member of another married couple. Either of us could be capable of emotional infidelity, but the fact that I privately meet with female friends and colleagues (“girl friends”) professionally all the time does not seem to challenge many preconceived notions, but if my wife were to privately meet with male friends or associates (“boy friends”) it would suggest greater concern. Does that make sense, or do you think my observations are wholly incorrect?”

    I think Matheson is spot on. I don’t think there should be any difference in acceptable standards for men or women.

    A source of differences would be rooted in ugly, ugly sexism–that women are always sexual beings judged by their appearance, while men are judged by their brains and thus can have platonic friendships based on shared intellectual interests. And that it is worse for women because there is an ancient tradition of men “owning” their wives, whereas women have no such claim over their spouse.

    Yuk!! So yes, I can understand why some folks might think it is worse for the woman, but many of the reasons are so bogus that I don’t respect it. Goose and gander, people.

    I’m not gonna say that your observations are “wholly incorrect” because of course they are based on your observations, and we all see different parts of the vineyard. But I don’t think that women’s friendships SHOULD be viewed differently.

    But maybe that is just me not wanting to be judged unfairly because my “best girlfriend” happens to have a penis. We’ve known each other about 10 years, done all the things everyone has mentioned (introduced each other’s spouses, never complain about the marriage, keep it all in the open, etc. He has met most of my children, and has independent friendships with some of them). We both feel that the friendship has strengthened our marriages rather than detracting.

  31. ClaudiaHen says:

    From a recent news article:

    “In her book ‘Monogamy Myth,’ author and extramarital-affairs expert Peggy Vaughan said 60 percent of men and 40 percent of women will have an affair. ‘If even half the women having affairs (or 20 percent) are married to men not included in the 60 percent having affairs, then at least one partner will have an affair in approximately 80 percent of all marriages,’ Vaughan wrote.”

    Like I said, I don’t mind casual friendships, but it’s so easy to not see it coming. I’ve seen it over and over in the marriages in my life. I think the biggest mistake you can make is thinking you are somehow immune. I think the percentage of people who seek out affairs is fairly small; it seems to sneak up on people, otherwise good people too. I’m apt to blame it on biology–we are prone to meet our needs and if they aren’t being met, we generally look around to see who can meet them, particularly with emotional needs.

    I’m not advocating extreme measures, like never speaking to another person of the opposite sex, but I would never spend extensive time one on one under any pretenses with another man, particularly if I was at all attracted to him.

    I’m not sure how it goes with men’s friendships with women verses women’s friendships with men. I think it’s interesting that more men cheat, so if there is a bias toward it being more acceptable, it’s reflected in the numbers, but of course, correlation is not causation. Still, I find it interesting.

  32. “So I am not sure that the person’s gender is even relevant.”

    I disagree. In the highly unlikely event a gay male friend would have romantic feelings for me (and the even less likely event that he would express those feelings to me), there’s simply no instance in which I would be capable of reciprocating those feelings. I don’t have to worry about being tempted should a male friend develop an unsuspected crush, but the same is not necessarily true if the friend is female.

    Sorry, but there’s a very real difference. I don’t HAVE to be on guard around male friends. I do have to be on guard to a certain degree even around women to whom I am not attracted, for their sake (I’ve learned) as much as for my sake.

  33. #24 Nathalie,

    Sorry for the misunderstanding, I was being dense.

    However, I disagree that Mormon culture is less tolerant of married male-female relationships than American culture generally. I was discussing this topic at lunch with a close (male) friend who is Italian/Catholic, originally from New Jersey. His opinion was that Utah Mormons in particular are much more tolerant of married male-female relationships than the people he knew in urban New Jersey. It was one of the cultural differences that struck him almost immediately upon arrival to live in Utah. His opinion is that Mormons in general assume the best in each other and their spouse, as opposed to his culture where it is assumed that nearly everone cheats. Thus, less jealosy. He specifically mentioned a trip my wife took to New York last week to go see some plays with a girlfriend. He said “no one back east lets their wife off the leash like that. All the men assume the wife will screw around.”

    And you thought Mormons were sexist ;)

  34. Naismith says:

    I had written: “So I am not sure that the person’s gender is even relevant.”

    Lorian replied:
    “I disagree. In the highly unlikely event a gay male friend would have romantic feelings for me (and the even less likely event that he would express those feelings to me), there’s simply no instance in which I would be capable of reciprocating those feelings.”

    I see that, but I don’t see how the person’s gender is relevant to your point of, “The question is, how do you know the OTHER friend is equally careful?” That point is just as true for same-sex as opposite-sex friendships, at least in my experience. It doesn’t matter whether I am attracted to them, it matters what they think.

    “I don’t HAVE to be on guard around male friends. I do have to be on guard to a certain degree even around women to whom I am not attracted, for their sake (I’ve learned) as much as for my sake.”

    Well, lucky you. I’ve learned that I have to be on guard around female friends as well as male.

  35. MikeInWeHo says:

    ‘But maybe that is just me not wanting to be judged unfairly because my “best girlfriend” happens to have a penis.’

    These days, who knows for sure? (Oh yeah, Carlos is keeping tabs on things!)

  36. Naismith,

    Again, I disagree. If a male friend had a crush on me, it would be a very safe crush from his perspective. Because even if he had a moment of weakness, I don’t have to draw upon any reservoirs of self-control. There will be no moment where I suddenly see him with new eyes and get carried away in the moment. With a woman, that’s entirely possible.

    Again, I see a world of difference. With a hetero male-female relationship, one can be weak for a long time, and all it takes is one unguarded time when the second person is weak, and it can all come crashing down.

  37. Mikey, that video is interesting. The dude doesn’t look like Dorothy (though he does resemble a friend of hers). The adam’s apple, as ever, tends to sort of be a giveaway.

  38. MikeInWeHo says:

    The adam’s apple is always the giveaway.

  39. Husband and I recently discussed this in terms of setting “boundaries” — we’re still newlyweds in some areas.

    We decided on no boundaries. That is just doesn’t work for us. That if the element of trust and respect for each other wasn’t there — we’d have a bigger problem.

    I like the commenter who said he/she would never do anything he/she wouldn’t do in front of his/her spouse. I think that mantra holds true. I’ve gone out to lunch with guys professionally and while I think my husband would be bored of our conversation — he would feel fine sitting there.

    We also have the advantage that we moved out of state a week after we got married — so many of our friendships are new, and couples.

  40. anon this time says:

    Okay….this one is really a painful topic right now.

    Imagine the following:

    You are married for over 20 years to your best friend. You are happy. Every conceivable aspect of your life appears to be wonderful – there is a level of connectedness you notice few other couples seem to have. You feel incredibly lucky. And just plain old happy. Not that your life has been perfect, certainly no one’s is. But is has been REALLY good. And 3 kids and the house of your dreams and a good a stable and even excessively awesome income which includes many of the good things life has to offer. In addition, you are both very active in a ward you love and husband has served as a Bishop and you have served in many, many callings which, while at times taxing and demanding, are very rewarding. And really, in many ways, you look like you have it all. And in your own mind, in many ways, you feel that you actually DO have it all. And how could you have been so lucky?

    And then one day your husband announces, after a perfect Christmas, and many other things that would leave one believing everything is lovely and great, that he is no longer in love with you. In fact, he’s been faking his happiness for years. And he’s no longer sure how he feels about the church either. And he has feelings for a ‘friend’ that he fears he will never again have for you. And by the way, when he told you that he wasn’t bothered by the fact that you were overweight? That wasn’t true either. He really is.

    And suddenly you realize that all those times you thought you were being such a progressive wife for allowing him to have female friendships with women at work or school – that all seems like a ridiculously huge mistake now. Because even though he swears that his leaving, and wanting a divorce, and getting his own apartment, has really nothing to do with his ‘friend’ and his feelings for her, he does admit that his feelings for her caused the timing of this event that he claims to have contemplated for many years.

    He never gave off a smidgen of an inkling that he was anything but happy in the relationship. Stressed at work sometimes? Yes. Stressed with his intense church calling sometimes? Yes. But only grateful and happy that he married his best friend and they had beautiful wonderful children and they had such a good life.

    But suddenly…he is gone.

    So my old progressive attitude towards having friends of the opposite sex, single or married, (this particular friend is single) has suddenly changed quite dramatically.

  41. anon this time says:

    And let me add this as a word to the wise:

    Apparently husband and friend had a conversation months ago where he stated clearly and just so there would be no confusion, that he would NEVER cheat on his wife. And she agreed that of course, that was always her expectation, and that their friendship was just that, a friendship.

    And she was a “family friend” as well. So in a tertiary way, my friend and a friend of my children. And I think that “talk” they had was well meaning – he really did want to make sure she understood that this wasn’t going anywhere, even though they were quite close and there was a lot of daily contact, lunches, texting, emails, etc. They worked together and joked together and that’s all it was, they were good friends.

    Physically, I believe there never has been to this day an inappropriate relationship. He still sees himself as too honorable to do that. But emotionally – almost BECAUSE they had that conversation, they allowed themselves to become very bonded and very close because the possibility of physical relationship had already been taken off the table. So where was the harm?

    The harm came when she started to seem funnier, and smarter and cuter and easier to be with than me. Because in their relationship, there was no stress. Their relationship was a stress relief, emotional stuff was shared that should have been shared with me and suddenly, the primary and most relationship in his life became the one with her, not the one with me.

    Honestly? It would have been easier (And he admitted this as well) if he had a physical affair instead. This became something much more entrenched and much more damaging to what we had.

    I NEVER thought this would happen to me. Never.

  42. 40/41
    I can only imagine that you are going through a tremendous amount of pain that I cannot relate to, and hope never to be able to. I say this with respect, and hopefully due sensitivity.
    I imagine that this friendship was a catalyst for the change in your husband’s life, but it doesn’t sound like its the underlying reason. I may be wrong. And I wouldn’t dare suggest what the underlying reason is. I just don’t see your story as an object lesson about why friendships are bad.

  43. MikeInWeHo says:

    That’s a sad story, Anon. I hope you are getting the support and help you need to get through a terribly difficult time.

    It sounds like the problems were building up for years even though you weren’t conscious of them. His friendship with another woman may have precipitated the end, but a spark always ignites every emotional tinderbox sooner or later. If not her friendship, something else would have triggered it. Nonetheless, very sorry for your loss.

  44. I think the take-home message is that if you don’t want an affair to ruin your marriage, you should be at least as suspicious of your own friendships as you are of your spouse’s. Anon’s husband didn’t expect to cheat on her, but he also kept his dissatisfaction with the marriage to himself. He was the one in the best position to know the potential dangers of the friendship, but he failed to recognize the signs that it was veering into infidelity (or he was careless, depending on your point of view). There’s only so much you can do to protect a relationship when your partner lies to you about his or her feelings, never mind the friends.

    My heart goes out to you, anon. That is a very painful story.

  45. #15: yup, these provide the normalizing context of a job: volunteer work (which would include neighborhood association, political work, PTA work), interest groups like book club, group blogs, ham radio, rock climbing: all good. Meeting and hanging out in the presence of others and an activity adds balance and reality.

    #20: I’m married, middle-aged, and busy. I don’t even see my husband as much as I’d like, let alone friends or family. If I were calling *anyone* every day, texting, having lunch often, I’d consider myself out of balance.

    You didn’t mention chat, which can be like heroin, especially when you’re new to it, especially if your life is somewhat isolated like a SAHM’s can be. I think chat is an area that the inexperience and naivete of many mormon women makes difficult to negotiate.

    Another skill difficult for the inexperienced is knowing that if your (male) friend doesn’t have your same sense of balance, don’t make it into a drama. If you don’t want to have long email exchanges, frex, don’t tell him it’s a rule he has to keep. That’s absurd. Keep your own rules. Nothing is a friendship killer like a dramatic discussion of how dangerous your friendship is. Gag.

    In normal world, private email volleys don’t usually go beyond 3 exchanges (I suggest “serve, return, finish.”) Sometimes projects require a little more, but not often, usually instead another exchange on the next task. People with jobs learn how to email brief, friendly, and task handled. It’s my sisters who are sending the 300-word missives.

    Emailing every day–how many other people do you email every day? Have real friends both male and female, but have a life, notice balance.

    If something in your life is void, want, or frustration, I think that might come up in an established friendship, and that’s fine as long as it’s not the basis of the friendship. I’ve had great advice on parenting and other subjects I wouldn’t blog about, and real comfort in what my friends had to say, from friends both male and female. If you need a real confidante, hire one. It’s cheaper than divorce.

    I know this is coming across as lots of rules, but I really think of it more as common sense. One of these days I’ll have to write up my own post on male-female friendships so you can all throw poop at me.

  46. anon this time: I am so sorry. He blew it.

  47. This has been an amazingly interesting discussion. I have always felt there was a double standard when it came to male/female relationships vs female/male relationships. However, by the same account I commonly hear the “man bashing” and male hatred that spews forth from women who have been cheated on, but often want to ask the question “Weren’t they cheating with a woman? where is the woman hating?”
    Anon, you will get through this tough time. It is exceptionally difficult but not insurmountable. I was your male equivalent, a 20 yr marriage, 5 children, great job/income, serving as the Bishop in our ward when the walls came tumbling down due to a “friendship” my wife (at the time) was having. Now almost 10 years later life is so much better.
    The recurring theme seems to have been that if your non-marital relationships start to involve anything in which you would not include your spouse, then you have stepped over the line.

  48. I certainly have been completely comfortable when my wife has had male friends. However, one of these friendships has become deep-text and email often and they share deep feelings often. She was quite forlorn when he left after a recent visit. I have to say that it hurts, a lot, even when I don’t doubt my wife’s faithfulness.

  49. Latter-day Guy says:

    40, 41: What a sad, sad story. I am so sorry.

    In fact, he’s been faking his happiness for years.

    It was interesting to read this. While I have never had this experience in a marital relationship (or any kind of “couple” situation), I did have to reevaluate an important relationship in my life recently.

    On the one hand, I imagine that the abruptness and the unexpectedness of your husband’s announcement only added to how painful it must have been. However, being––in my case––on the other side, I understand the inclination not to say anything or do anything. In some situations the pressure to not rock the boat can be intense. Swallowing back little annoyances, not making a fuss, etc.: these are often considered not only good choices, but simply part of being a good person/Christian/Mormon.

    In my situation, there came a time when I realized that the little things on the surface were just expressions of something bigger and fundamental: something I couldn’t continue to ignore, and, having finally faced it, something I couldn’t accept. It came on very abruptly. That is not to say that I didn’t feel the situation getting worse (over months and years), but I didn’t know where the breaking point was precisely (or even that there was one), so it sneaked up on me. You can spend hours loading a freight elevator, knowing that the cumulative weight is tremendous, aware of all the creaks and groans––but when the cable snaps, it happens in an instant.

    Well, this was something of a threadjack, I’m sure. And I certainly do not mean to “explain” your situation, anon. It’s just that your comments about how sudden it was sparked my memory about the surprise of the abrupt emotional whiplash I felt in my own situation. I am truly sorry for what must be a terribly painful experience for you and yours.

  50. Anyone interested in the perspective of the cheater? Here we go… I have been involved in an emotional email affair for around 2 years now with a former mission pal. He is no longer active in the church–but I am. I actually had no idea that there were problems in my marriage, thought we the absolute perfect couple–married 20 yrs, no fighting, 4 great kids, Bishopric/Presidency callings well attended to, good incomes, etc., etc., etc…. In a way this facade of perfection (a cultural problem–IMO) I had created was the very thing that made me feel invincible. Of course I had a ton of male friends, but me—cross the line? Never!…

    I feel like such an idiot, and while I don’t know much, I just realize now that it is essential, ESSENTIAL to address marital issues like loneliness and disconnect on a regular basis. Although, that said, I felt like we were trying to do that. I don’t know. I appreciate my husband now more than ever, but resent some things now more than ever as well. Thankfully I never had any illusions of running off with the object of my obsessions. My family and covenants are too important to me. But matters of the heart are a tricky business. I gave myself a year get over this nonsense, but here we are double that time and while I am no longer in touch with “him”, I still feel the draw.

    This is a very difficult thing to write about. I guess it sounds trite to say be careful. And here’s the crazy thing: I still think men and woman can and should foster meaningful platonic friendships. oh, the irony. I think it was my arrogance in righteousness (along with a deep and primal want to feel desired) that led to my own trouble. One good thing that may have come from this is that I am so much less judgemental now and I finally recognize that we are ALL fallable. I don’t know if any of this is helpful at all to anyone, but if I have anything to offer it’s this–please be careful. Seriously.

    (anon, I am just so sorry for what you have been through.)

  51. This is fascinating. I had always been under the impression that it was the men you had to watch out for, not the women. I had always been socialized to be wary of a man who hung out with female friends and colleagues whereas a woman who has lunch with a male friend or colleague (or something equivalent) was harmless and the female was without guile because men have affairs but women don’t.

    It’s like the whole pornography thing. Men look at pornography all the time but women never have this problem. If a woman has an affair, it’s because she was seduced or tricked, whereas the male is always the predator.

    Apparently, I am very much in the minority. Huh.

  52. Aaron R. says:

    Russell, I know this many hours too late, but I quickly wanted to respond to your comment in #8. I don’t think I clearly articulated what I was trying to say. I wholly agree that trying to bring all parties to the friendship is not always possible, yet I think the effort is what is important. If, as I said, secrecy is the part of what causes the emotional damage then being completely open will at least to a certain extent reduce that damage. I don’t see this as a resolution but as making the best of a situation which is inevitable and healthy but which can also be scary and hurtful. I really appreciated this post, thank you.

  53. Some powerful, wise, and heartfelt stuff has come up on this thread since I last checked in. Thanks to everybody–and in particular, thanks to anon (#40-#41) for sharing a very painful and sobering experience, and for no name (#50) for doing the same. Since everybody is being so honest here, I might as well admit that this post was in part inspired by a friendship my wife has developed over the past year–a friendship that I completely support, but within which there are elements that make both her and I rethink, occasionally, what it is we’re both doing. So this whole discussion has been very valuable–thanks again to everyone.

    Johnna,

    I think chat is an area that the inexperience and naivete of many mormon women makes difficult to negotiate.

    Again, we run up against the reality (perception?) that many (most?) married Mormon women haven’t had much experience with handling a socially balanced life, and thus fall easily–if given the tools and opportunity–to unknowingly fall into too-great emotional intimacy with someone they’re not otherwise attracted to. Assuming that everyone here is committed to the idea that Mormon women as well as men ought to be able to broadly benefit from and contribute to social interactions with others, then how to we address this reality (perception?) of naivete? Reminding everyone to take stock of their own spiritual situation regularly is, of course, primary…but maybe an important secondary element is to get Mormon wives out of the house?

  54. Aaron,

    I wholly agree that trying to bring all parties to the friendship is not always possible, yet I think the effort is what is important. If, as I said, secrecy is the part of what causes the emotional damage then being completely open will at least to a certain extent reduce that damage. I don’t see this as a resolution but as making the best of a situation which is inevitable and healthy but which can also be scary and hurtful.

    Yes, I completely agree. To not even make the attempt to turn friendships into something mutually felt by both partners betrays a judgment about who are the sort of people that one’s spouse can be friends with…and that can lead to distrust and secrecy. So yes, very well said.

  55. I don’t like the assumption that stay at home mom’s aren’t outside the home enough to naturally develop interest based friendships. If your stay at home wife isn’t doing something outside the home that would have her interacting with a variety of people CHANGE something. it doesn’t have to be work. It could be volunteer something or a book groups or some class or somethign she’s interested in… If you are the stay at home wife and realize you need to make a change..do it. If your husband can’t (really) take care of the children, trade off with a friend. It just sounded like the article in the OP and some assumptions in comments imply that work is the only reasonable place to make friends

    It doesn’t have to be men they are friends with, that’s not the point.

    Definitely communication would be the key in the friendship issue though. If your spouse is in anyway not comfortable…the end. If you are talking with a friend more in detail about your interests…of course. If you are talking with a friend more in detail about your feelings and life goals and more personal things…I think you need to be careful there if it isn’t what you’ve already shared with your spouse. If you don’t feel comfortable sharing those kinds of things with your spouse, work on it until you do, or find a safer place to do so…

    anon…I’m so sorry. What an awful situation.

  56. I think the anon of 40-41 was pointing out that she WAS included in the friendship, and it didn’t change anything. It seems to me that there are two elements that cause trouble: first, not having total and complete open communication of feelings within the marriage, and the subsequent, gradual increase of importance of an extra-marital relationship and decrease of the marital relationship; second, not placing the welfare of the family and temple covenants above one’s own emotions once the trap is sprung.

    Perhaps that is partly why temple covenants are so important. They give us an anchor to cling to during emotional windstorms.

  57. If your spouse is in anyway not comfortable…the end.

    And I want to add that this is the right attitude to take, so long as your spouse is not controlling or abusive.

  58. Naismith says:

    “If your spouse is in anyway not comfortable…the end.”

    And I want to add that this is the right attitude to take, so long as your spouse is not controlling or abusive.

    It doesn’t even take abusiveness. For example, a lot of older men are uncomfortable for cultural reasons–their mom didn’t have male friends, they just find it very different.

    Discomfort is a reason for discussion and prayer by the married couple, that may indeed result in termination of the relationship. But mere discomfort on the part of the spouse is not reason to automatically abandon a meaningful friendship.

  59. This is probably as good a time as any to admit that I believe in avoiding even the appearance of evil–Greek translation be damned, Norbert!–so much that once, as an EQP, I let the RS walk home in the rain rather than have her be seen in my car.

    I’m okay not being polite, but don’t you dare erroneously accuse me of possibly having an affair with a woman drenched in rain!

  60. As a Myer-Briggs student I am fascinated and horrified by these painful responses. The experience of #41, no name, just happened in our stake a few years ago, two children, 30 years of marriage, an ex bishop, etc. But here is an over-simplified explanation:

    In Myers-Briggs terminology the -T- type person is a Thinker rather than a Feeler, someone who is more in touch with emotions. I have observed that the curse of the -T- type is that they seem blind to the emotional content of almost everything. When they do respond emotionally it is very likely inappropriate because they have little practice in emotional responses and perceptions. (-T- types have other talents and strengths.)

    Most men are -T- types. Most men are -ST- types, about 50%, in fact. -S- types are best at handling defined and delineated problems, not new and complex situations. Church leadership is very largely, well beyond the normal 50%, -ST- types.

    You through into the mix an old girlfriend or a new one who is hugely attentive to the above -ST- type and it is a recipe for trouble. It is a complex situation involving emotions. It is bound to come out badly.

    To me, the opposite, a Myers-Briggs -NF-, such a situation seems completely unfathomable. In my mind the hurt caused by such a rejection as No Name has recounted is unthinkable. I would compare it to hitting a person in the head with a base ball bat. You would not do that to a stranger let alone a person you have lived with and “loved” for 20 or 30 years.

    To a narcissistic -ST-, not a problem, no perception of this type of pain.

    (The greater question is why are Church leaders -ST- types?)

  61. Sorry “You throw …”

  62. Let’s imagine a woman and man, figuratively. When they are young and ‘enraptured by forces inside themselves’ they meet and bind themselves to one another. The young woman has a gift. Each year she does everything she can to make the gift attractive and places it expectantly under the tree. She waits with great expectation to her partner’s joy at opening the gift. But when her partner opens the gift he sees something he does not expect, or sees nothing at all. She is disappointed but is undeterred, because she has made a commitment and believes that if she will only present the gift properly it will be seen and loved. The man, as well, is baffled – this gift was not the gift he expected, nor is it the gift he was told he would receive if he would bind himself to a woman. She tries, perpetually. Perhaps one year the man has learned to make a better show upon opening the gift, but still his confusion shows through and perhaps in subtle ways he ignores or even mocks the gift. The gift is everything she is. As the years go by, the woman’s expectation is dimmed and though she continues to place her gift under the tree, she does so without any expectation of joy. Perhaps one year she places nothing in the package, and discovers that when her man opens it he is unable to tell the difference. Then one year she places nothing under the tree. The man notices and may make a comment, but when the next year arrives and there is once again no gift under the tree he feels relieved for the woman’s expectation has weighed on him and now, at least, he is not confronted by something he cannot understand. Then one year all is silent in the house. The man, concerned, sees that again there is no gift under the tree and hollers to the house, ‘I’m sorry, where is the gift?’, but there is no response because the house is empty, the woman has fled.

    If we now discover that at some point she has made a friend who, upon opening her gift, saw the gift and was filled with joy, do we weep for the woman, or no?

  63. Dear Anon #62 with the gift parable: I believe you just restated the lyrics of “According to You” which Orianthi is now singing on your radio.

  64. Russell: At the risk of smirching many of my sisters in the gospel, yes wives need to get out of the house and participate in adult society. Maybe it’s different for those who served missions and therefore interacted with a great variety of people, but I meet a lot of sisters who married young, after dating with open emotional receptivity to everyone they met, reinforced by a church message about loving and caring for everyone. Their choices in interacting with others now, especially men, seem to be total emotional accessibility or complete cut-off.

    “Too-great emotional intimacy with someone they’re not otherwise attracted to,” pfffft. The more interesting problem is managing emotional space to someone you are attracted to, who is in every way worthy of admiration. I don’t know about you, but I want friends who are cool, whose lives I admire. However, I might get a buzz anytime such a person talks to me, especially at first. It’s nice to have some options between avoiding him and naive bonding overshare.

  65. 62

    Gosh, I guess you’re right. Men ARE evil.

  66. 59 I’m sure Jesus would have forced her walk home in the rain as well. . .

    60 Can’t say I agree with you. I’m in no way an MB expert, but I do think of it as a very useful tool.
    The Fs I know in my life are EXACTLY the people who run out on perfectly functional marriages, while the Ts stick around because, why fix something that ain’t broke. They don’t tend to follow their hearts as much as they follow the most logical situations. Thinking specifically of my recently divorced in-laws, it was the F that left the T, not the other way around.

  67. I hear this a lot. Are we running up against a simple fact of how men and women develop, both socially and sexually: that men are, more or less, expected to gregarious and public, and women are expected to be intimate and private? And hence, we evaluate married-man-with-female-friends relationships differently than married-woman-with-male-friends relationships? Or is it really just that Mormon culture tends to skew towards a certain sort of female being the model?

    I don’t see this as being true. I think the reason I have more female friends is because I interact with them regularly. My wife is a graphic designer who works from the home. I also work from the home, as we have run our business from the home, so we spend a lot of time with one another. We also spend a lot of time with several mutual friends, many of whom got married about the same time we did. I think the difference between her circle of friends, particularly those who are more acquaintances for me, than friends, and my circle is just from the environments we find ourselves in. I don’t see it a result of socialisation at all. (After all, if women were socialised to be less social, then how on earth are so many of those who are my friends so social? It seems a strange dichotomy to set up.)

    Of course, I also know that the Mormon culture in the Midwest is considerably different from the Mormon culture of the Intermountain West. So maybe my experiences are just outliers.

  68. I am greatly concerned to see sentences that contain the phrase “I would never allow my spouse” or “I would allow my spouse” (or anything similar). My wife and I do not give each other permission to do things with others. I find it rather dangerous to be in a relationship where you have to do that. When my wife spends an evening with her best friend, she doesn’t ask me for permission. She just says, “Hey, [best friend] and I are getting together tonight.” Likewise when I go out with a group of the guys to each meat and watch a movie with explosions. Where does the marriage covenant say we need to ask each other for permission to, as President Hinckley said in a different context, spread our wings and fly?

  69. B.Russ, #66, That the F left the T proves nothing except is it horrible to be married to an emotionally cold and distant individual, blind to a whole and important side of life.

    The problem is how can someone so committed and apparently happy do such a destructive thing out of the blue. A good F type would have identified the problem and would have tried to work out a solution. It would have been obvious for a long time. Of course a narcissistic jerk is capable of anything be they F or T.

  70. 69
    an emotionally cold and distant individual, blind to a whole and important side of life

    Wow, I’m glad to know that you know my in-laws personally and feel confident in judging them.

    Your comment makes me wonder if you know anything at all about MB. Quoted directly from the MBTI website:


    Knowledge of MBTI® type allows you to see those differences as just those—different ways of seeing things. Instead of labeling a person and putting value judgments on his or her behavior, you can learn to see your partner’s behavior as reflecting personality type, not something designed to offend you. Many couples even learn to see the differences in a humorous light.

    In marital counseling, the use of type can create a neutral ground, a nonjudgmental language for discussing misunderstandings and irritations. Change in a relationship can begin when there is respect for the qualities of each partner. Even when a relationship is ending in divorce, understanding the influence of type can lead to a much more amicable process and better understanding of what happened.

    As a “student” of Myers-Briggs, I guess I would think you wouldn’t label a person or put value judgments on his or her behavior, but maybe you’re not a very good student.

  71. re: the parable

    Most would likely chastise the woman, berate and judge her for such selfishness. After all, We endure–We do not flee. I weep for the man who cannot see the gift, and I wish for the woman (and her friend) a peace that will never be.

  72. re: the parable

    As a man who was the one with the gift . . .Most would likely chastise the man, berate and judge him for being so blind (remember, men are always at fault and have no gifts). After all, Men endure also. I weep for the woman who felt she was the only one with a gift, and for the man I wish appreciation for his gift which was always ignored.

  73. B.Russ, sorry for not being clear. Myers-Briggs profiles are indicators of our best talents. MB should be used as a help. Just as if you are identified as a redhead, it simply means that you are sun sensitive. The characterization of one’s personality is simply that there are times and places where these are good gifts and times and places where they are not so good.

    T type people have a characteristic that is like colorblindness, which, if not carefully considered can get a person in trouble. Same for F type people who go so far as to base total response to their internal emotional state. These are characteristics that should be taken into account by their owners.

    The value of the MBTI is to understand our weaknesses and to value the strengths of others. In life we should be becoming fully rounded individuals, capable of working in all the quadrants of the Myers-Briggs universe. If we do not then we will fall into the pit on our blind side.

    For narcissism this is difficult and is not encompassed by the MBTI.

    I do not know your parents-in-law. I was making a general statement in response to your general statement that the F left the T. Do you think the F left the T because of the difference between F and T? You seemed to imply that and I responded to that implication. I am truly contrite.

    In my original post I had observed that No Name had had an experience almost 100 percent congruent with a woman I know well. It has been a mystery to me how this can happen as a bolt out of the blue. My post was an attempt to understand this radical behavior using a simple tool. If it was taken as judgmental I am very sorry. I meant it to be analytic.

    To all T types, be aware of the emotional side of life. To all F types, there is logic and it sometimes can be cruel, to narcissists, be they F or T, seek for another’s happiness.

  74. This topic has been a pet one of mine for years now. Before I got married almost all of my friends were guys. Then once I got married, it was almost as if, at least within the church, I wasn’t allowed to be friends with those guys unless I was also friends with the wife. I’m sorry, but sometimes I don’t like the wife. And what if MY husband doesn’t like the husband as a friend for himself?! Then it’s difficult to continue the friendship.

    Also, my husband has girl friends from before we got married that he is still friends with but that I like too. However, he is still better friends with them than I am and so I have no problem with him doing things with them on his own.

    My husband has a guy friend who I like as well. But I don’t really like his wife. But if he invites them over, guess who I’m stuck talking to?!

    I think that there is a double-standard but I’m not sure it’s only in the Mormon community though it does seem more prevalent at times in LDS culture. I remember an occasion when I was at a gathering of LDS married friends. I happened to be standing near the husbands when they were talking about some bands I was interested in. I started to join in on the conversation and it was as if I was an interloper. It wasn’t a uniquely “male” topic so I didn’t see the issue. I got the vibe though that I should extricate myself and join the wives’ conversation. Why is that?

    I thought about this when I went out for ice cream one night by myself. (I needed a moment to myself and my husband was home while the kids slept.) I happened to see an LDS married guy friend there and he joined me for a while before leaving to run errands. I’m friends with him AND his wife. When I got home and told my husband this, he said jokingly, “So you were on a date with Matt, huh?” I thought about this and told him that I had never felt the “taboo” of a male friendship with Matt, namely because he’s fifteen years older than me and also because both he and his wife encourage those friendships. It may have to do with the fact that they’re converts too and thus were raised with a broader definition of what’s acceptable.

    All I have to say, after those long-winded, pointless anecdotes, is that I miss having more guy friends but because of cultural pressure, I don’t see that changing.

  75. For the info part, two personal experiences:

    1. I am a bodybuilder and recently I had developed a close friendship with a married woman whom I met before as an acquaintance (both her and her husband), but that because of our shared interest in fitness had become a very good friend. Our friendship is just that, friendship and no inappropriate lines have ever been crossed. One day, her husband (an acquaintance) who, doesn’t work out at the gym, told me politely that he felt uneasy about my “flirtatious behavior” with his wife. My first reaction in my mind was “what an insecure paranoid loser.” But then I was so surprised by his politeness that I reconsidered my first thought and actually gained respect for the guy. He had a concern about a very delicate issue, and not only did he have the balls to approach the very source of the issue, he did it in a very civilized manner. I reassured him that my behavior was in no way intentionally flirtatious, and that I was simply friends with his wife and nothing more. I even apologized for having given that impression (which is rather rare for me). Today, I simply put myself in his shoes. Their marriage is a priority over friendships outside their marriage. I have decided that if he is uncomfortable about my friendship with his wife, I should respect that, see them as a unit, not as individuals and realize that as a unit, a part of them does not want me involved with them. That’s good enough for me.

    2. I came back to UT in 2006 to finish my engineering degree at BYU. I had been here prior to the September 11 attacks and I started reconnecting with old friendships, including a girl with whom I had a good friendship, who is now married. I met with her and her husband once; soon we were chatting on the internet on a regular basis (sans husband). One day she told me she needed to talk to me in person. We met and she offered me money in exchange of a sexual favor. My jaw and heart dropped. She told me she is not and never was interested in her husband and that she made a huge mistake marrying him in the first place. I told her we could not see nor talk with each other anymore. The husband is a very nice guy, and back then he was an active LSD member, with a regular calling. I was very scared back then to get involved in anything and never mentioned anything to him (or anyone else for that matter). I just pretended it never happened and went on with life; never heard from them again. I feel disturbed sometimes, especially about him, since I feel it was probably my duty to let him know what was going on. Then I rationalize it by saying, it is none of my business. She is obviously not very stable, so what she is capable of doing is unpredictable (deny it, or some sort of sick retaliation if I were to tell the husband).

    Now, this is what I am getting out of this post and the amazing experiences and opinions shared: true and honest communication between spouses will always be key.

    I find that in many ways, we all perpetuate a culture that blocks or makes it significantly more difficult to engage in honest communication between spouses. I cannot number the times I have witnessed people trying to be completely honest and being punished for it.

    We punish honesty. Honest people are often judged, diminished, belittled and subjected to a number of manipulative arguments to make sure they keep their mouths and their minds shut and behave the way “they are expected to.” We play a vicious communication game and the basic rule is “you better say what you have to say in the exact way I like to hear it, since my ego is more important than reality,” “Don’t speak your mind because that puts a strain in our relationship.”

    Many times, when I have tried to be honest in a relationship (whether romantic or any other kind) I have been pointed at and called a plethora of hurtful, manipulative and punishing names including: “insensitive,” “shallow,” “monster,” “immature,” etc, etc, etc.

    Husbands are not supposed to tell their wives anything about their appearance or behaviors, because that makes them shallow insensitive monsters and easily offended women will jump at them like hungry piranhas with an engorged sense of entitlement to shut them up for good. How dare those monsters say what is really going on in their hearts and in their minds, that just reflects what horrible insensitive vile monsters they are.

    Women have to swallow and keep to themselves the things they would like their husbands to work on (because supposedly that is the proper thing to do) and they rather fantasize and daydream about young actors (i.e. the Twilight mommy craze), leaders, or other role models in whom they see what they truly want (physically and personality wise). They are not supposed to have basic instincts and desires! That would mean they are immoral, shallow!

    People love self-righteousness; it’s the number one vice and drug of religious people, and as a Mormon community, boy are we addicted to it. Both men and women have, more often than not, similar needs and desires that are so basic and instinctive that they confuse them with “evil and selfish things,” thus perpetuating the big social sham and a communication restricted culture. Self-righteous people will make sure the laws of appearance are well enforced, lest any human under their watch may actually show their human side.

    It’s time to rethink communication, honesty, and the tedious yoke of political correctness with which theself-righteous enslave society. It’s time to end self-righteousness, and to be honest with ourselves.

    This thread is long, and there are some insights that I find particularly important (in the context of my opinion) so I want to put them one right after another because in my opinion, they reflect an amazing reality:

    I understand the inclination not to say anything or do anything. In some situations the pressure to not rock the boat can be intense. Swallowing back little annoyances, not making a fuss, etc.: these are often considered not only good choices, but simply part of being a good person/Christian/Mormon. (Latter-day Guy #49)

    It seems to me that there are two elements that cause trouble: first, not having total and complete open communication of feelings within the marriage…(SilverRain #56)

    …In fact, he’s been faking his happiness for years… And by the way, when he told you that he wasn’t bothered by the fact that you were overweight? That wasn’t true either. He really is…He never gave off a smidgen of an inkling that he was anything but happy in the relationship. (Anon #40)

    It sounds like the problems were building up for years even though you weren’t conscious of them. (MikeInWeHo #43)

    I feel like such an idiot, and while I don’t know much, I just realize now that it is essential, ESSENTIAL to address marital issues like loneliness and disconnect on a regular basis. (no name #50)

    If spouses were as open and honest with each other about the pain they are experiencing in their relationship and have the fortitude and security to address the pain together then I’m not sure they would be drawn to other sources to fill voids. (Eric S. #20)

  76. Alright GST. We need your call on here and then please shut this thing down.

  77. The husband is a very nice guy, and back then he was an active LSD member

    Trippy!

  78. Ouch… yeah, LDS, not LSD.

  79. I love that every time Manuel makes a comment, someone asks GST to “shut this thing down.”

  80. I want everybody to know that I am not a bodybuilder and that married women never offer me money for my Umm services

  81. Silver rain…YES. Sorry if that was unclear.

  82. bbell,
    L. O. L.

  83. You know, I’ve witnessed a couple stories like anon’s 40,41 and I’m not convinced people are correct in suggesting that her marriage wasn’t as good as she thought it was and that she was simply missing all the signs. Sounds like the guy simply had a mid-life crisis to me.

    It’s human nature to seek for the greener grass, and then you throw in popular media with all its sexual tension and “searching for my soulmate” messages and people simply fall to temptation.

    Sure, if anon got fat that couldn’t have helped her cause, but frankly, I think it’s likely that even if she hadn’t, it may not have made a difference.

  84. wow, Martin, way to come to anon’s rescue.

  85. It depends on whether the boy friend is a Quaker or not, because thee is adulterers.

  86. Applause from Steve Evans! A rare thing indeed.

    I had a relative that did essentially the same thing as anon’s husband. With the benefit of hindsight, he admitted there was nothing really wrong with his marriage — he simply blew it. I really felt for his wife. Nothing like having your “perfect marriage” fall apart and have everybody wondering what you did wrong.

  87. Kristine says:

    “Sure, if anon got fat that couldn’t have helped her cause, but frankly, I think it’s likely that even if she hadn’t, it may not have made a difference.”

    This would not be quite so disgusting if it were possible to even imagine a man similarly insulted for “letting himself go” if the genders of the subjects were reversed.

  88. …unless, that is, she was fat.

  89. The present is the template we impose on the past.

    It would not surprise me at all if someone such as as anon #40,41’s husband would genuinely feel, once he started falling in love with someone else, that he had been continually unhappy for some time with her; and that his memory was false.

    Most marriages will have enough unhappy spots that if you don’t remember most of the happy spots–and sometimes you won’t– you can plot a pretty straight line of unhappiness.

  90. “And by the way, when he told you that he wasn’t bothered by the fact that you were overweight? That wasn’t true either. He really is.”

    Every story like 40,41 that I’ve known anything about, the woman has always said something like this. I was not insulting her. I’m saying the argument has little merit, and what merit it has is incidental, not fundamental.

  91. (psst…Martin…prolly better just let it go.)

  92. Wise words, AG.

  93. Kristine says:

    Martin, what’s insulting and disgusting is the fact that any of us can, for even a moment, entertain the idea that a woman getting “fat” or “old” or, in short, having a human body that behaves as aging human bodies are supposed to, might be justification for a husband’s desertion.

    You didn’t assert the idea in a particularly insulting way–it’s just a terrible idea.

  94. Kristine says:

    I hate to say it, but I think Adam’s comment at #89 is quite insightful.

  95. KHH,

    I don’t think he’s saying ‘justification,’ I think he’s saying ‘reason’ or ’cause.’ Which, unfortunately, is probably true.

    I mildly regret that my being insightful is hateful to you. But be of good cheer! It doesn’t happen often.

  96. Kristine says:

    :)

  97. :(

    One good emoticon deserves another.

  98. Kristine says:

    I’m sure that “reason” or “cause” rather than justification is what was meant, but the distaste for the normal female physique is a conditioned response, and one that it’s important to undermine wherever possible. (Adam, you’ll recognize this argument from C.S. Lewis, although he uses flappers as the example of what men can be conditioned to like). If enough people started to believe (consciously) that it’s important to value women’s bodies as God intended them to be, the (largely subconscious) aversion to those bodies might eventually disappear (or at least be attenuated). That would a) improve many marriages, and b) spare a lot of women lifetimes of enmity with food and their bodies.

  99. Eric Russell says:

    “the distaste for the normal female physique is a conditioned response”

    I’m saving this quote for the next SSM debate.

  100. Kristine says:

    Eric, I really hope that’s just a (bad) joke.

  101. 87
    The funny thing is, it seems that what you would argue for is an appreciation for the natural state of the female body(standard of beauty being a normal body) to create this equality. And yet it seems that they are becoming more equally (although I’ll concede, still a ways from actually being equally) scrutinized, its just that men’s bodies are becoming increasingly scrutinized, as opposed to women’s bodies being less scrutinized. Give it time, we men will have just as unhealthy of a body image as you women, I promise. We will all be miserable together, and equally!

  102. #62,

    Was the gift a vow to never leave obnoxious parables in the comments at BCC? I bet he would have truly cherished that gift.

  103. Kristine says:

    B. Russ–you might be right. Calf implants for all…

    Sigh.

  104. Kristine: but the distaste for the normal female physique is a conditioned response

    This statement sounds true to me.

    But it seems to me that at no time in our evolutionary past was becoming fat/obese the norm for either sex. With the foods we fill ourselves with in recent decades fatness/obesity is definitely widespread. I guess I’m saying that while a distaste for a “normal physique” probably is a conditioned response, a distaste for an obese physique may be quite natural to our species.

    Of course of that remotely justifies free willed people making cruel and selfish choices though. I just wanted to respond to Kristine’s interesting assertion.

  105. I’m still deciding if the author of #62 is Richard Paul Evans or Stephenie Meyer. It’s a toss up for sure. Either way, I cannot wait to see the Lifetime movie.

  106. #104 should read: “Of course NONE of that remotely justifies free willed people making cruel and selfish choices”

  107. Kristine,

    The challenge is to define “normal.”

    I don’t know Anon, nor her age, nor her actual physical condition. But she uses the term “overweight.” I don’t think it is proper to say being “overweight” is “normal.”

    Don’t get me wrong, all sorts of images and definitions of “normal” nowadays are extremely wrong. But just as a teenage girl may think that “normal” is to be only skin and bones because that’s what she sees in magazines and TV, I also think it is wrong to say aging bodies need to be considered “normal” when overweight, because that is what is happening now collectively.

    I don’t think Anon’s husband has an excuse for what he did. But I know many women who are also “disgusted” by overweight men, and who indulge with fantasies with the help of media of men with healthier proportions than “overweight.” So, I am a bit at odds with your rant and your attempt to add sexism to the issue. Martins comment was specific to the case provided. Don’t be so sure men aren’t objectified by their physical appearance.

  108. Attention lonely hot moms of the Bloggernacle: I am available for opposite-sex platonic friendship, complete with non-sexual backrubs. Anyone interested should now come upstairs to see my etchings. I’m sure my old lady will be cool with it.

    Manuel, you told that gigolo story a few weeks ago on another thread, and I called “bullshit” on it then. I still don’t believe it.

  109. Kristine says:

    Geoff/Manuel–agreed. We don’t know the particulars of this case. Nonetheless, it has been argued here at BCC in recent weeks that it’s perfectly acceptable for women to have post-partum tummy tucks and boob jobs if they want to–to the extent that women can be convinced that doing violence to themselves (i.e. being CUT OPEN) is a reasonable way to “get their bodies back”, I’m going to continue to argue that we have an unreasonable standard for female bodies, one that does not include reasonable variations for mesomorphs and endomorphs or take into account the normal widening of hips after childbirth and the effects of aging. I don’t know many men who entertain the idea that they should consider surgery to deal with their love handles or implants to firm up muscles that sag a bit with age. As many as 75% of women between the ages of 25 and 45 have engaged in eating disordered behaviors (http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/04/080422202514.htm), and surveys regularly suggest that around 2/3 of American women are trying to lose weight at any given time. You’ll have a hard time convincing me that there’s not a strong component of sexism in our collective definition of attractive vs. “overweight.”

    /end massive threadjack–sorry, Russell

  110. Naismith says:

    I just wanted to add that my male friend had a significant positive influence on my life in part because he was the one who realized that my work environment was hostile and that I was a target of bullying. He is an expert in human resource issues, and picked up on this right away. My husband loves me, but he’d never encountered that kind of thing and (like me) did not believe it at first, and had no idea how to handle it. It took that objective point of view and highly skilled ears to realize the truth.

    His input was critically important because once I started reading about workplace bullying, I learned how damaging it is, to the coworkers as well as the target. A huge percentage of people are so traumatized that they can never hold another paid job. It took me months to confirm his diagnosis and realize what was happening, and to mentally get to a place of being bullyproof and accept that I had to leave the job.

    My husband was initially uncomfortable with my friendship with another man, and the article the OP brought up was a great catalyst for our conversations about it, and my husband made a positive decision that he was okay with it.

    But now I wonder where I would be without my friend’s coaching.

    I have felt that his friendship has been a blessing, and a way that the Lord protected and guided me through this difficult time.

  111. Stephanie says:

    Anon 40/41. Thank you for sharing your story. I think you are exactly right. Same with Lorin 27.

  112. MikeInWeHo says:

    Don’t let gst get you down, Manuel. He can’t possibly understand what it’s like.

  113. Naiasmith #110: thanks for another illustration of why friendships with guys (as well as gals) is important. I’ve had more than one friendship I could really characterize as a Godsend.

    I hope Misty #74 reads your story, and doesn’t knuckle under the pressure to separate the sexes. As you get older your friends will get better at mixing at parties, but in the meantime push.

    And your line to your husband about who you ran into at the ice-creams shop: “As if spending time with anyone but you would feel like a date.” Someday the guy at the ice cream store will be your same age, or younger, and it will still be okay because you will be totally appropriate.

    re: anon 40/41 Why the heck would any guy need to be daily emailing and texting his co-worker? His behavior was odd and inappropriate, and then he blew it.

    Lorin 27: The other person getting overly emotionally involved with me is not my problem. When your friend crosses the line, be disappointed. Nothing cools groundless ardor like disdain.

  114. gst,

    I am sorry if my story bothers you. You don’t have to believe it, and with all due respect, what you believe or don’t believe or think is bs is absolutely irrelevant to what is true. More than not believing it, I suspect you simply don’t like it.

    It happened for sure, and it happened to me, and you may not like me, and you can discredit me all you want and you can deem my experiences bullshit, or whatever. I am no stranger to this kind of hostility. My father (who actually matters to me) has done the same; therefore, I couldn’t care less what you (who don’t matter to me at all) can possibly think and rant about me or even try to publicly slander me calling me a liar.

    On my part, I am grateful for the people that had the guts to share theirs. It takes a lot of character and courage to share experiences, especially like those shared by anon40-41 and no name50, they are extremely valuable, and whether I like them or not, I am grateful. I hope they don’t have to deal with people like you and have to be discredited and their personal experiences deemed shit, like you did mine.

    Kristine,

    I wasn’t part of that conversation. I agree with you that body image perceptions/expectations are sexist and that the standards (I suppose you are talking about media and public opinion) are unrealistic. I’m just coming from the extreme opposite, where health and fitness are also attacked, where nobody can work out regularly because then they are cataloged as vain people. And where a seemingly and increasingly lazy, overweight and unhealthy society seems to try to impose with manipulative language that we have to accept as normal something that is not, something that is unhealthy and something that is killing people and costing everyone billions.

    Therefore, I cannot give into any argument that being “overweight” is OK and that people have to like it and accept it; and that the rest of us who actually do our part in making the effort to live healthy and maintain ideal (per health standards not media standards) weight are nothing but a bunch of vain bullies. But I agree with you that the other extreme is also very damaging.

  115. It’s not shut down, it’s not shut down! It’s ALWAYS shut down by the time I get around to reading a great BCC discussion!

    I wanted to tell you #75 Manuel that I’m in love with you. Ha ha. Okay, well, I love your comment and wholeheartedly agree.

    I’m posting this now and will work on my own comment, hoping the thread won’t be shut down before I can finish.

  116. Speaking as a doctor, and certainly not someone who would ever be mistaken for being a “gym rat” – obesity is bankrupting us and killing us.

    There are always going to be ectomorphs and endomorphs. There is always variation. At the same time, with essentially the same genetics, as a country we are becoming alarmingly obese over the past few decades.

    The increased cost to our medical system of obesity (ie. high blood pressure, heart disease, arthritis, diabetes, etc.) is around $150 BILLION annually. In perspective, Obama’s health care plan is around $100 billion annually. We could have paid for it just through eating habits alone.

    If you make it to age 70-80 at a normal weight, your chance of needing a knee replacement is less than 20%. If you are overweight, it is more than 80%.

    Obesity causes tremendous morbidity.

    So, I don’t really care whether “skinny” or “larger” is more beautiful. I actually don’t really like extremely bony to be honest, but that’s neither here nor there and is actually irrelevant. And I don’t care whether you are an overweight man or woman. The medical facts are facts. Obesity is diminishing the quality of our lives medically, and is contributing a fairly reasonable percentage to the already high medical costs in the US.

    So, I don’t agree that being obese is “OK’. It’s not a societal image thing. It’s not a personal preference. It’s on a medical basis.

  117. Some things that disturbed me:

    1. References to “allowing” a spouse to do or be anything.
    2. Caring more about the appearance of evil than fulfilling the commandment to love (and protect?).

    Re: 1– Do I even need to say anything?
    Re: 2– A dear friend made this same comment in Sunday School a few months ago and I’m still upset. The context was a leader quoting an ex-Stake President as saying that he left a sister to walk home in -30 degree Celsius weather carrying grocery bags because it was more important for him to avoid the appearance of evil. I asked my friend in front of me if he would have made the decision if it was me. He said yes. I was greatly hurt that he wouldn’t love me enough to take care of me, given possible dangers of me walking home alone in the evening in cold weather. The gentleman beside me piped up and said that he knew a couple who got divorced and it all started with a car ride. A car ride?! That’s absurd. It started with conversation– conversation that could take place in any setting, even in the hall at church! I can say many things quietly enough in a public setting that no one but the person I’m talking to would know.

    Really, it starts in your heart and mind. And really, if you are the kind of person who has so little self-control that you can’t be trusted in a 10 minute car ride, then by all means, make the safer choice. But I suspect that most of us are not porn/intimacy/sex addicts to such a degree that we can’t hold it together enough to take care of each other in uncommon, spontaneous situations such as the one described by the other commenter and myself.

    So, to cling stubbornly to the letter of a law and to rules about avoiding the appearance of evil is to babyproof yourself and your life instead of becoming practised at being wise, erecting boundaries, and knowing thyself.

    And does anyone really believe that there’s a point of no return? And if there is, is it in a car ride? Is it in one conversation? Is it even in one sex act?

    I don’t think so at all. There’s always choice, at every step. Even once a marriage has been destroyed, it can be rebuilt. Sad and maybe pathetic if we let it get that far, but still– it can be repaired if we choose.

    I’m so sick of hearing people cling to strict rules not only in their own lives but also imposing them on others because they can’t recognise that in most commandments and words of wisdom there is a fine balance. “Avoid the appearance of evil.” What does that mean? ALWAYS? In ALL things? Imagine if that was a commandment we actually felt we had to keep perfectly? It would be paralysing. I care very little what people think of me and what they think I’m guilty of, but even I see the wisdom in this commandment. There is a time and place for this commandment. But it’s not an always commandment and to fear that people would judge you and assume that you’re cheating with the RS president just because they saw her in your car on a rainy day or night and that they won’t consider any other possible reason for the situation and that they won’t figure out over time that nothing is going on or that your explanation won’t ever be believed, suggest more about you, I think, than the people whose judgment you fear. (Did that make sense? Kinda a long sentence.) It would NEVER occur to me that people might actually believe that I’m having an affair with some guy they saw me in a car with or anywhere with. And if they did– so what?! It’s what my husband knows that matters.

    Spouses need to be upfront about their disappointments throughout their marriage. They also need to give each other a safe haven to be able to confess when they’ve developed feelings for someone else, without being seen as anything other than human.

    If my husband came to me and said that he had developed a strong connection with a female cop or lawyer he was working with (and he’s forced to work with them on a regular basis and to have long conversations) and thought he might even be in love with her, I would be shocked and sad but mostly I’d be thinking, “Crap. This is going to be a long ride out of here.” And I would understand and forgive him and we’d go about trying to fix the problem.

    I’ve had feelings for other people. Most notably my best female friend. My husband and I talk about it and deal with it and it’s brought us closer and we have our eyes wide open knowing that no matter how much we love each other, there’s always the possibility that we could love someone else too, quite quickly and easily. And it’s not the end of the world. It’s not the end of our feelings for each other. It’s not ego-destroying. It’s human. It’s frequently the result of less-than-ideal upbringings. (Hello!) It just means that adjustments need making. And it means that I learn more about myself and I grow more than I ever would have if I had just put myself in a playpen, telling myself that I couldn’t be trusted.

    I don’t think that my marriage is perfect if we’ve managed to avoid any tough situations. I think our marriage is perfect if we deal with tough situations with grace and love and a desire to honour each other and God. I think it’s more realistic and faithful to allow for the possibility that we might develop feelings for other people at some point and to give permission in our marriage to discuss it without an eruption of violence or accusations or demonising, than to expect and pretend that that would never, can never, happen to us and put up loads of fences to insure that it doesn’t, fences that say “I don’t trust you or myself to be able to handle that”.

    If more spouses made agreements to be safe havens, to be forgiving, then fewer secrets would need keeping because the fear would be gone. And then we could come to each other as soon as problems are felt, before they get bigger, thinking we could deal with them on our own without upsetting the other person. We make microadjustments instead of macroadjustments like divorce or marriage counselling.

    I could say a ton more, probably, and probably more needs saying to clarify what I’ve already written but I just ran out of words. I’m sure someone is bound to think it’s all crap I’ve written anyway. ;-)

    I hope this makes sense. I haven’t edited because I’m afraid the thread will be shut down soon! :-)

    (I love this blog!)

  118. Wow–both Adam and Kristine have joined in since I last checked out my post. Quite a coup. Thanks for the wonderful continuing conversation, everyone.

    Johnna (#64),

    At the risk of smirching many of my sisters in the gospel, yes wives need to get out of the house and participate in adult society. Maybe it’s different for those who served missions and therefore interacted with a great variety of people, but I meet a lot of sisters who married young, after dating with open emotional receptivity to everyone they met, reinforced by a church message about loving and caring for everyone. Their choices in interacting with others now, especially men, seem to be total emotional accessibility or complete cut-off.

    I think is a fair away of expressing the perception which many people on the thread, in different way, are commenting on: that there is, in American Mormon culture at least, many Mormon women who appear to operate with a fairly narrow range of emotional options in regards to friendships, perhaps in part because of their experiences in the church. Taking President Hinckley’s comments about encouraging women to take expand their horizons (wisely cited by Alex in #68) seriously seems important here.

    Adam (#89),

    It would not surprise me at all if someone such as as anon #40,41′s husband would genuinely feel, once he started falling in love with someone else, that he had been continually unhappy for some time with her; and that his memory was false. Most marriages will have enough unhappy spots that if you don’t remember most of the happy spots–and sometimes you won’t– you can plot a pretty straight line of unhappiness.

    Very wisely said. We are always writing and rewriting our own stories about ourselves; even deeply felt emotional connections with another person can be subject to such rewriting. Which, I suppose, points to an additional element of the advice many people have had on this thread about maintain open contact with one’s spouse about all friendships: do it frequently, so as to not allow the space of things unsaid or merely passed over because they seem, at the moment, to be incidental, to provide room for a rewriting of a story of justification. This is, now that I think about, part of the reason why I put up this post in the first place: because I wanted an occasion to talk with Melissa about our mutual (and also our different) different-gender friendships.

    Kristine (#109),

    /end massive threadjack–sorry, Russell

    No need to apologize; any comment designed to attack the bizarre, misogynistic, and frankly unnatural addition and/or pressure that some American women feel to cut up their own bodies is just fine by me.

  119. Natasha, I LOVED your rant! What you said is passionate, wise, and true. And as regards the “appearance of evil,” here’s the way I think about it: in a fallen world, there is no way to NOT be a part of the appearance of evil in anything we do. I looked at that same apocryphal story about letting someone walk home in the ride rather than providing them with a ride which might open the door to temptation in an old post of mine, and the way I saw it, there was every reason to think that the refusal to provide a ride–or to refuse to be a friend to someone who needs it, just because they are single and of the opposite sex–was just as likely to have evil results as the ride could have. So what’s the answer? Balance–just as you say.

  120. Russell: Thanks. I agree: There’s always some appearance of evil taking place and not even from every perspective. The idea that I’m supposed to try to read people’s minds and act accordingly is a ridiculous burden.

    I wrote a post before about how to have fidelity without compulsion (unrighteous dominion), obligation or ownership. Um, not a lot of comments on that one.

    I believe that if we do things out of fear, it will rarely turn out well, and certainly not ideal. If we do things out of love, it will always work out. And it’s a constant self-checking procedure and an evaluation of small things– single emails, single comments, etc.

    Let me know if you’d like to read it. Email address on blog. :-)

  121. Can I emphasise that I really loved what was said about how we punish honesty? I don’t think this is ALWAYS the case. But it is often the case, especially on small scale issues and relationships. (For large scale situations, like sleeping with bazillions of women though you’re a public figure, honesty is the only thing that ever saves anyone; the public DOES take it well.)

  122. Perhaps this quote from Rilke is not entirely out of place:

    “”The point of marriage is not to create a quick commonality by tearing down all boundaries; on the contrary, a good marriage is one in which each partner appoints the other to be the guardian of his solitude, and thus they show each other the greatest possible trust. A merging of two people is an impossibility, and where it seems to exist, it is a hemming-in, a mutual consent that robs one party or both parties of their fullest freedom and development. But once the realization is accepted that even between the closest people infinite distances exist, a marvelous living side-by-side can grow up for them, if they succeed in loving the expanse between them, which gives them the possibility of always seeing each other as a whole.”

  123. “I am sorry if my story bothers you. You don’t have to believe it, and with all due respect, what you believe or don’t believe or think is bs is absolutely irrelevant to what is true. More than not believing it, I suspect you simply don’t like it.”

    Quite the contrary, I assure you: I LOVE your story.

  124. It’s been counseled that a way to honor and protect your marriage relationship is to make sure that your friends (of either gender) are friends of your marriage (and by extension, your family), not just of yourself individually. This is not to imply that you may only be friends with others as a couple, but rather that your marriage relationship and appropriate boundaries in regards to it are acknowledged and respected by both you and your friends.

    To #40–The same thing happened to me, and I feel for you. I’m not exaggerating when I say I didn’t know I could experience such emotional pain and live–for several months I could barely sleep or eat and the world turned gray for me. Your spouse sounds like a W.A.S.–a Walk-Away Spouse. Often the cause is a mid-life crisis. The W.A.S.s generally say and do the same things, as if they’re mindlessly following the same script (“I love you, but I’m not in love with you,” which turns to “I never loved you,” frequently accompanied by “We married too young, too fast, etc.”). They follow a very similar pattern of behavior. If you research this at all, you will be surprised, sadly, that you are far from alone in this situation. And in some strange way you may be comforted as you are reminded that it’s not your fault and as you come to a better understanding of why your spouse did the things he did.

    As LDS members, I believe that the callous breakup of our families is even more devastating because of our eternal perspective on families and the temple covenants we’ve made. If you have any interest in “riding out the storm” and doing what you can to save your family, there are some great thoughts out there by people like Michele Weiner Davis who wrote a book called “The Divorce Remedy.” The Peacegiver by James Ferrell is another book which truly gave me peace–it taught me much about forgiveness and how the Atonement can help one heal from being sinned against. My prayers are with you and all families facing being broken up.

  125. Latter-day Guy says:

    “…a leader quoting an ex-Stake President as saying that he left a sister to walk home in -30 degree Celsius weather carrying grocery bags because it was more important for him to avoid the appearance of evil.”

    I have found that I must keep in mind the warning about kicking against the pricks––because there is certainly an abundance of them, some of them in positions of leadership.

    More generally, I hate that “appearance of evil” claptrap that gets carted out with nauseating frequency, in spite of the fact that the usual reading one hears in Church is based on a completely fallacious rendering of Thessalonians 5:22. One could argue the position from the statements about not causing one’s brother to stumble in Romans and Corinthians, which is all well and good as far as it goes––however, it is far too simple to cloak egregious of the weightier matters of the law in a sense of one’s own piety. It’s quite devilishly clever: we avoid caring for our brother or sister, and we do it in the name of caring for our brothers and sisters. It is much easier to feel charitable to those you’ll never meet (theoretical feelings of warmth toward humanity require far less effort than engaging in practical service) than to love and serve those you see face to face.

  126. Naismith says:

    Therefore, I cannot give into any argument that being “overweight” is OK and that people have to like it and accept it; and that the rest of us who actually do our part in making the effort to live healthy and maintain ideal…

    The thing is, a lot of us “do our part” and are still overweight. I bicycle 14 miles round trip to work, and am at the gym six days a week. I am still overweight. I am both fit and fat (actually, I am a good candidate for reconstructive surgery because of being lean in other places, but I’m not gonna go there at this point). It isn’t unusual for women, who have to deal with hormonal issues which men totally escape.

    And the weight problem is mostly because of the effect of five pregnancies, which my husband didn’t have to physically carry. So for him to look down on me after my body was used for children that belong to both of us would be outrageous.

    My husband eats ice cream while I nibble on fruit–it is very unfair how the weight thing works.

    In public health, we do say obesity is normal because it is common. Smoking was normal in the 1950s, when over half of USAmerican men smoked.

  127. I am relatively new to this blog but at the risk of stepping over some lines, not others, can I just say that I really wish I knew Natasha better! That was an exceptionally intelligent, coherent, well-thought post. Amazingly, I am happily married to my best friend but can compliment a woman without it being seen as a come-on. Great post Natasha, . . . and others too (just so no one gets all huffy and offended.

  128. Being overweight =/= being full-figured. The former is medically unhealthy (and obesity is even more so). The latter is normal, healthy, and needs to stop being equated with the first.

    Natasha, I absolutely agree with your points! I would be quite happy to see more people recognise the dangers of this notion of “allowing” a spouse to do things. It horrifies me that such a concept even exists.

  129. Kristine says:

    What Alex said–I wasn’t defending obesity, only arguing that “getting fat” may not actually mean becoming obese, and that it is not grounds for divorce.

  130. “Avoid the appearance of evil”

    You keep using that phrase. I don’t think it means what you think it means.

  131. 2 Cor 13:7
    “Now I pray to God that ye do no evil; not that we should appear approved, but that ye should do that which is honest . . . . “

  132. Kristine says:

    SilverRain is correct (130). An NT scholar can correct me, but I believe a more accurate (and more common) translation is something like “avoid evil at every appearance,” or “avoid evil whenever it appears.” So, yeah, hokey behavior based on bad scriptural translation.

  133. MikeInWeHo says:

    2 Cor 13:7 (NIV)
    Now we pray to God that you will not do anything wrong. Not that people will see that we have stood the test but that you will do what is right even though we may seem to have failed.

    (Sorry, but you guys and your KJV…yikes….)

    That verse does seem to assert just the opposite of the ‘avoid the appearance of evil’ idea.

  134. Naismith says:

    I was thinking that one of the great role models of opposite-gender folks who work together, share a strong bond, are good friends, but are NOT sexually attracted is from Joss Whedon’s FIREFLY tv show (catch it on Netflix streaming), the Mal and Zoe characters.

    Zoe’s husband was sometimes jealous, but it was clear that Zoe was not interested in Mal as anything but a compadre.

  135. Well, if it can be done successfully on a science fiction TV show, I say go for it!

  136. Left Field says:

    Even in the KJV, the correct reading can more plausibly be read from the text than the incorrect reading. And the footnote in the LDS edition ought to settle it.

  137. Re: #135 Made me snortlaugh.

    Re: #127 Between you and Kathryn this morning, I think I’m going to cry. Wow. Um, thanks!

    Re: #130 I think you mean to say that it doesn’t mean what most Mormons think it means and what even stake presidencies interpret it to mean.

    In that same Sunday School lesson with the ridiculousness about the woman walking home in winter, the Stake presidency counsellor also mentioned a time he was at a party and a man made some reference to a celebrity being attractive… while his wife was nearby! The judgmental cast on this counsellor’s face is etched in my mind. He went on to say how disrespectful it is to comment on other people being attractive, in front of your spouse, or even in their absence. Something like that. I don’t remember exactly how he put it but I believe he did say something along the lines of it being unfaithful and he didn’t say anything about context, tone of voice, nothing. I was thinking, Who showed this man my blog??

    I wanted to raise my hand and say that not every woman is threatened by the idea that her husband can find someone else attractive and that to comment on it is not much different than commenting on a beautiful painting. My husband didn’t marry me because I’m purty. It was so silly. I can honestly say that no percentage of me is jealous if my husband comments on another woman being beautiful. So then, isn’t our interaction and aren’t our standards between my husband and I?

  138. I often read the vignette about a SP/ Bishop/EQP/HPGL driving by a RSP standing in the rain/snow/heat and not stopping to give her a ride b/c he’s alone and she’s alone but, like Manuel’s fantastic prostitute story above, I’m calling BS on that story as well. I think it ‘s a Mormon urban legend. It’s repeated way too often with too many local variations: rain or snow; heat or cold; interchangeable priesthood leaders for it to be anything but a made up story meant to lampoon insecure Church leaders. In my limited experience confined to the East Coast and South, I am not aware of a single SP/Bishop/EQP/HPGL who would behave like the dolts in the oft repeated story: intentionally ignoring a RSP standing or walking in a rain/snowstorm or extreme temps b/c of an appearance problem.

  139. re: Appearance of Evil. If Jesus had avoided the “appearance” of evil, he would have never healed on Sunday, never overturned the money-changers’ tables, never challenged the Judaic hierarchy, and probably wouldn’t have been crucified. If Joseph Smith had avoided the “appearance” of evil, well, our story would read VERY differently.

    re: Obesity & Fitness: It has been stated already, but to put into other words Physical Appearance =/= Physical Health. The problem with some of your comments Manuel (although I do agree with a lot of your premises) is that you use PA interchangibly with PH, you need to be careful with those. My wife, for instance, has a relatively high BMI, and yet she competes in triathlons, works out most days, and could kick most people’s (including many men’s) asses.

    Re: 137 (Re: 130) He was quoting Princess Bride. Thought you should know.

  140. rbc

    “In my limited experience confined to the East Coast and South…”

    Please come visit us in UT, or anyplace in the Rocky Mountain Mormon corridor with a high population of Mormons and a distinctive Mormon culture. You will find exceptionally nice people, but you will also find that some of these stories that sound like urban legends to you (and even more outrageous ones) do actually happen.

    It is much more comfortable to think that all is well in Zion, and to continue to thrive in a bubble where our rosy preconceived notions of our religion remain undisturbed and unchallenged.

    Those stories may sound extreme, embellished and stereotypical, because they are usually used to pin point peculiar aspects of the culture where there is room for improvement and are subjected to a critical stance. So, most of the time, they are not juxtaposed with many other positive stories and great uplifting experiences that also happen here.

    We just need to not let those negative stories used to exemplify things that we need to improve on, paint the whole picture for us. It is expected that people will have the criteria to consider that, but it is also easy to see that when being critical, we all can cast a very dark shadow over what we are trying to describe.

  141. In my earlier comment Re: 137 (Re: 130), if I’m not mistaken, SilverRain is a female, should be She, not He. Sorry SilverRain.

  142. Oh, and why is it always the RSP? Aren’t there other female ward members wandering around in inclement weather sans-a-man who are also ignored by their priesthood leaders? Where in the world are all these wandering RSPs? More BS.

    RE: 140: not to threadjack but where did you get the crazy idea that Utah and the Rocky Mountain West are Zion? That’s as far fetched as your story about being paid to have sex with a ward member. (I do agree with GST, I really enjoyed reading the story just have a hard time believing it. No offense intended.)

  143. B.Russ,

    “The problem with some of your comments Manuel (although I do agree with a lot of your premises) is that you use PA interchangibly with PH, you need to be careful with those. My wife, for instance, has a relatively high BMI, and yet she competes in triathlons, works out most days, and could kick most people’s (including many men’s) asses.”

    You are correct. I don’t necessarily intend to use the terms interchangeably, but I do have a strong tendency to believe that being physically fit/healthy does significantly increase (in a great majority of cases) people’s physical beauty, emotional stability and overall wellness. And yes, my comments are of course based on that very premise. I included the whole context of my ideology in the other BCC recent post “The Perils of Beauty.” I do understand that is my personal point of view, and that other people define those terms differently.

    And you are also very correct about Body Mass Index. I have posted several essays backed with scientific documentation on fitness forums arguing that BMI is old, unscientific, random, outdated and misleading. So kudos to your wife!

    I love the comments that dismiss the “appearance of evil” paradigm. I think there is mostly a concensus on that one.

    And I also support those who respect marriages as a unit. Meaning, being friends with one of them does require being friends with both of them, even when we are of course bound to have more things in common with only one of them, thus the friendship will be closer with one of them. The communication that happens between spouses has priority though, and verbak intimacies with friends should not be upheld in a way that they surpass those whithin the bounds of marriage.

  144. rbc,

    Oh trust me I would never equate the Rocky Mountain West with Zion. That was a second paragraph and I was just making an inference of how we, as a religious community (and including myself), tend to resist stories or anything that challenge or disturbe the preconceived notions we have about our religion or the group that we belong to. It’s only human.

    One of my favorite quotes ever is the following:

    “Few people are capable of expressing with equanimity opinions which differ from the prejudices of their social environment. Most people are even incapable of forming such opinions.” -Albert Einstein

  145. Re: B.Russ– LOL. Ah, The Princess Bride. Right. Sounds familiar now. Love it.

    Re: rbc: Well, the stake president in my little story apparently said that this was a real situation with him and that he did drive by. *shrug*

    As a convert of only so many years, I haven’t heard things over and over and I don’t have the same perspective as people who have been steeped in church culture and church history. That’s why I come to blogs/people like this: perspective. I’ve recently been forced to mature in my faith quite a lot and my eyes are opening wider every week.

  146. Somehow, I made it through these comments. I wanted to comment on about 20 of them, but there are always too many on BCC (and FMH as well–same problem, lol).

    I would, however, recommend for anyone looking for ideas in how to avoid/prevent “emotional infidelity” to check out “Not ‘Just Friend'” by Shirley Glass. While a lot of it is about recovering from infidelity, there is some good stuff on prevention as well. One thing that she did mention was that in affairs that are physical and emotional, the space/time between “just friends” and the first kiss is a LOT longer than from “first kiss” to “all the way.”

    Anyway, here are some interesting tips/etc. she offers:

    Seven Facts about Infidelity
    1. A happy marriage is not a vaccine against infidelity.
    2.The one having the affair may not be giving enough rather than not getting enough.
    3. It is normal to be attracted to another person, but fantasizing about what it would be like to be with that other person is a danger sign.
    4. Flirting is crossing the line because it is an invitation that indicates receptivity.
    5. Infidelity is no only about love or sex—it’s about maintaining appropriate boundaries with others and being open and honest in your committed relationship.
    6. You do not have to have sexual intercourse to be unfaithful.
    7. Emotional affairs are characterized by secrecy, emotional intimacy, and sexual chemistry. Emotional affairs can be more threatening than brief sexual flings.

    What You Need to Know about Love
    • People confuse the intensity of being “in love” during an affair with the secure, comfortable feeling of reality-based “loving” that occurs in long-term relationships.
    • The feeling of being “in love” is linked to idealization, passion, and infatuation.
    • True love, which you grow into, is characterized by acceptance, understanding, and compassion. That is why so few people end up marrying their affair partner, and those who do have an extremely high probability of divorce.

    Seven Tips for Preventing Infidelity
    1. Maintain appropriate walls and windows. Keep the windows open at home. Put up privacy walls with others who could threaten your marriage.
    2. Recognize that work can be a danger zone. Don’t lunch or take private coffee breaks with the same person all the time. When you travel with a coworker, meet in public rooms, not in a room with a bed.
    3. Avoid emotional intimacy with attractive alternatives to your committed relationship. Resist the desire to rescue an unhappy soul who pours his or her heart out to you.
    4.Protect your marriage by discussing relationship issues at home. If you do need to talk to someone else about your marriage, be sure that person is a friend of the marriage. If the friend disparages marriage, respond with something positive about your own relationship.
    5. Keep old flames from reigniting. If a former lover is coming to the class reunion, invite your partner to come along. If you value your marriage, think twice about having lunch with an old flame.
    6. Don’t go over the line when you’re online with Internet friends. Discuss your online friendships with your partner and show him or her your email if he or she is interested. Invite your partner to join in your correspondence so your Internet friend won’t get any wrong ideas. Don’t exchange sexual fantasies online.
    7. Make sure your social network is supportive of your marriage. Surround yourself with friends who are happily married and who don’t believe in fooling around.”

  147. Yikes that was long. Sorry Russell. :)

  148. Also, for the metaphorically challenged like myself, “walls and windows” are not to be taken literally, haha.

  149. Re: #148– LOL.

  150. Re: #146– “Don’t share sexual fantasies online.” Oh, crap. I guess I need to edit my next few days’ to-do list. Huh.

  151. 150 – Yeah, you need to stop that. Better check that Bukkit List on your blog to make sure it’s not on there.

  152. “I wasn’t defending obesity, only arguing that “getting fat” may not actually mean becoming obese, and that it is not grounds for divorce.”

    You know, Kristine, as a lawyer I should advise you that this statement is not always true. It totally depends on the specific provisions of your pre-nup. For example, all of my clients have do have an obesity clause which gives them an uncontestable divorce if their spouses’ BMIs reach a certain level. It’s a variation on the Massey Pre-nup:

  153. I do have a strong tendency to believe that being physically fit/healthy does significantly increase (in a great majority of cases) people’s physical beauty, emotional stability and overall wellness. And yes, my comments are of course based on that very premise. I included the whole context of my ideology in the other BCC recent post “The Perils of Beauty.” I do understand that is my personal point of view, and that other people define those terms differently.

    Thats kind of the problem though, that I see. If we focus on physical fitness, and stress physical fitness to the rising generation, then physical beauty will come naturally. If we focus on physical beauty, then we are a) missing the mark and in so doing encouraging people to do ANYTHING to look more beautiful which is often most easily achieved by b) plastic surgery, wreckless diets, steroids, botox, etc., etc.
    Or in other words, you encourage the very thing (unhealthy living) that you mean to discourage, just by focusing on the effect side of the equation instead of the cause side.
    Again, not disagreeing with you, just trying to encourage a different approach.

  154. B.Russ,

    Oh, I am sorry if I ever gave the impression that people should focus on physical beauty in a separate context from physical health. All this time, I have been arguing against obesity and against ideas that make people believe obesity is the norm, normal, OK, or the inevitable destiny of aging bodies.

    I have certainly NEVER suggested achieving physical beauty, emotional stability and overall wellness by any other means than by increasing physical health. And I would especially never imply that beauty should be an ultimate goal and that it should be achieved by whatever means, including negligent and irresponsible practices.

    Perhaps you are reading too much into my comments?

    Besides, just to bring back this threadjack to the original subject, the point everyone agreed on is that the lack of health or beauty is not an excuse or valid grounds to leave a spouse.

    The other point addressed was that in the heartbreaking experience narrated, the husband never communicated to his wife any of his concerns. He hid them all and then one day he was gone. I don’t believe this “midlife crisis” happened suddenly, as someone suggested. I believe there have to be a long line of things that were increasingly bothering him, and that he failed to communicate that eventually lead him to his drastic decision. While communication may not have “corrected” 100% his concerns, at least there would have been efforts on both parts to balance and compromise the problems. Instead, the wife remained clueless of the things she could have worked on, she never had a chance even to try to change anything since the communication never even got to her.

    The “friend” was an obvious catalyst for the husband’s decision. In the end, I think it’s his failure. If he continues to suppress his feelings about his spouse, religion, etc; chances are things will come his way that seem like “solutions” to the problems he has failed to address and confront. And he’ll jump again after the new “solutions.”

    Therefore, the fact that the wife had a weight problem, was a problem. It was a real problem for him. The failure came when the husband failed to communicate and address it. Instead, he made an effort to cover up the problem by lying and saying it was not a problem. This is where my comment comes in. I think we (and I included myself) as a culture, perpetuate these attitudes by punishing people who want to be honest and speak their minds.

    Therefore, within marriage, communication is key. Even if that communication includes things we don’t like to hear, like “I think you have a weight problem.” Friends of spouses will inevitably come and go. I believe they can be a threat when the communication within the marriage is thwarted, and the odds that things can work out smoothly like some experiences shared are greatly increased when open and honest communication between spouses exists.

  155. anon from #40/41 says:

    I have not read every single comment since mine but I do appreciate the support some have offered.

    The whole “fat” thing is a weird issue. What is “fat” to one man, may not be to another. Or…I don’t know. This has actually confused me a lot about how attractive or unattractive I really am or how much of a role this played in the demise of the relationship. He insists it is part of it.

    But when my Bishop heard about all of this he told me “Frankly, I don’t know what he’s talking about, in my opinion, and maybe this is inappropriate to say, you may be slightly overweight, but you’re a knock out” I think it may be that my spouse is just using this as another in a list of excuses to retroactively tear down what we have had.

    I just truly honestly don’t know if it’s as some have suggested – that it was easier to pretend and get a long and be “happy” even when he may have felt very differently at times. Or if it is just a typical mid life crisis and now he has to justify his behavior.

    When he first left he said “this is not really about you….it’s about me”. Now it’s “I’ve been unhappy with you for a long time’. Occasionally he says “you’ve been my best friend all my life…you still are…my issues are really with the church and you just get caught up in them…” and now it’s “we married too young…I didn’t know what I really wanted…I’ve always imagined what a different life would have been like and this is my last chance to find out”.

    Which leaves me really perplexed about what I could have possibly done differently to prevent any of this. But one thing seems clear to me – the “friendship” with the woman from work DID spur him along this path. He’s always had female friends and I’ve never had a problem with it. But now he admits that many times, these friends have seemed like an attractive alternative to me. He recently admitted some other women he was friends with years ago, he had feelings for as well, but never admitted as much to me. And this is part of what made him realize I can never truly make him happy.

    I think it’s a case of the “the grass is always greener”. Relationships with ‘friends’ don’t involve any really stress of a real relationship. There’s no boring kids choir events to attend, or someone who needs to pick up from football practice while someone else gets a kid to piano, there are no laundry and no dishes and home repairs that need to be attended to. There are no bills and no conversations which require compromise on how to raise children, save or invest money or whether or not to buy a new car. The ‘friend’ relationships are much like early dating – all is fun and purely carefree.

    I think eventually he’ll realize this and he’ll see what a grand mistake he has made. But by then, it will be far too late.

  156. 155 – If the story is as you portray it, and I have no reason to doubt, there is probably very little you could have done. Good people sometimes turn bad, Satan’s whisper is a soothing and persuasive one sometimes.

    This is why I hope to go bald by the time I’m 40, so I don’t have any disillusions about being able to do “better”.

  157. disillusions = delusions . . .

  158. Well, the day my spouse (if I have one again) makes enough money for our entire family to live comfortably so I don’t have to work, and does his share of the household management, chores and child-rearing, is the day I spend the minimum of three hours a day it would take for me to be beautifully trim again.

    And for the record, bald men are cute. :D I also happen to LIKE a bit of “extra” in a man. It means he likes my cooking.

  159. I’ve been in education almost all my life, and most of my closest associates have been female. However, I haven’t spent inordinate amounts of time with any one woman (in person or online), my wife knows about each and every one one of them, and I don’t fantasize about any of them.

    Most importantly, I work consciously at continuing to court my wife and acting as if I still was trying to convince her to marry me. We go on dates; I hold her hand when we are next to each other; I start dancing in the kitchen when a really good slow song starts playing on the radio; I call or text her at least once each day just to tell her I love her; I surprise her with a flower or a poem or a card every once in a while; I tell her she’s beautiful and that I love her lots of times each day. I work at seeing her the same way I did when I was star-struck and amazed that she liked me – at not letting the familiarity rob me of the amazement that she stays with me.

    In a very real way, I still am trying to convince her to marry me – and it’s important, imo, not to forget that staying together is as much a choice over which she has control as the original choice she made to marry me in the first place.

    Therefore, to tie this all together, I work actively to build our relationship, but I also am careful not to create any relationship with anyone or anything that might possibly challenge our relationship in any way – and that includes my callings and the Church itself. If I have a conflict, and if there is any way to resolve that conflict in favor of time with my wife, I do it – and that is true especially if the conflict involves time with a female friend.

    That’s a no-brainer to me.

  160. Ray, that sounds exhausting.

  161. He’s too tired to cheat. And his wife only craves time alone.

  162. Ray, do you have a brother? ;)

  163. Good grief Alex and Sunny. Die alone.

  164. MikeInWeHo says:

    re: 160, 161
    Dang, what cynicism. I thought Ray’s comment was very touching, and that his wife is a lucky woman.

  165. Ray, you said what I hope my husband would say.
    Thank you for saying it.

  166. Re 164:

    Me too, Mike. But that didn’t stop me from involuntarily yelling, “Get a room!” while reading.

  167. MikeInWeHo says:

    Or did Ray surreptitiously slip some emotional p-rn for women into this post?

  168. Ha. These comments, especially 166 reminds me of this: http://www.theonion.com/articles/nation-sickened-by-sight-of-happy-young-couple,2053/

    I took Alex and Sunny to be teasing.

    My husband is similar to Ray. It’s not exhausting if you want to do it. And the more you do it, the more you tend to want to. Pleasing people is addictive.

  169. Still laughing at “Die alone”.

    Boy, I’m easily amused…. What have I been drinking?

  170. Man alive! I feel like I just murdered the emotionally present keynote at a lonely wives convention.

  171. Ray KNOWS what women like.

  172. He has a testimony of it. *sniff*

  173. It’s not exhausting if you want to do it. And the more you do it, the more you tend to want to. Pleasing people is addictive.

    Ha . . . Hahaha. . . . Hahahahahahaha. . . .

  174. LOL. Stop that! You know what I meant.

  175. Adam Greenwood says:

    “to the extent that women can be convinced that doing violence to themselves (i.e. being CUT OPEN) is a reasonable way to “get their bodies back”, I’m going to continue to argue that we have an unreasonable standard for female bodies,”

    Mostly agreed, but you’re mixing up things that can be separated. The fact that people are willing to take stupid and repulsive risks to gain status by meeting our standards of beauty does not mean that our standards of beauty are off. It could just mean that the whole human relation to status is off.

    You’ll find that there are areas of life in which men do dumb stuff to impress women.

  176. anon from 40/41/155 says:

    Ray said: “Most importantly, I work consciously at continuing to court my wife and acting as if I still was trying to convince her to marry me. We go on dates; I hold her hand when we are next to each other; I start dancing in the kitchen when a really good slow song starts playing on the radio; I call or text her at least once each day just to tell her I love her; I surprise her with a flower or a poem or a card every once in a while; I tell her she’s beautiful and that I love her lots of times each day. I work at seeing her the same way I did when I was star-struck and amazed that she liked me – at not letting the familiarity rob me of the amazement that she stays with me.”

    This is sweet. But this was also the experience of my marriage.

    I’m sure YOU are totally sincere in all that you do for your wife. But my husband did all of these things for me. We dated every weekend without fail – and it wasn’t just dinner and a movie, we attended gallery openings, symphony, dinner with friends, concerts, or just a stroll through downtown hand in hand, getting some ice cream before heading home. We danced. We had a somewhat mind blowing “physical” connection. He bought me flowers fairly regularly. We worked on projects around the house together. We vacationed frequently, with and without the children. We laughed. We love the same kinds of humor and agree politically on almost everything. We had intelligent discussions and philosophical debates about things that interested us.

    What did I do for him? Well, I made our home as much of a haven from his stressful work life as I could. I popped by the office with lunch for him and made time out of my day to visit him at lunch. I surprised him with little gifts on occasion. I bought him things but would not have done for himself, like glider lessons and season baseball tickets. I made it a goal to never nag, and I never have been demanding or a nagger to any degree. I signed him up for painting lessons when he expressed interest and helped him get his work into galleries and shows when he really didn’t have the time to apply himself. Whenever I saw a way that I could save him some time, or work on something that would assist him and his schedule, I did so.

    I truly thought things were perfect.

    It sounds so stupid. I mean, I think if someone else were telling me this I would say “there’s something missing here, there’s something that you aren’t telling us”. NONE of my friends or fellow ward members (especially those who had him as a Bishop) can figure out what on earth is going on.

    I like to think he has a brain tumor.

    It’s a bit of a thread-jack I know, so I am sorry. But once again, I go back to my innocent acceptance of his female friends (he was always that type – he had more female friends in high school than male, and both of my sons are the same way) – as something of a mistake. Maybe it would not have mattered. But in retrospect, I really wish I would have had a different attitude about that – and I wish we would have made different rules regarding such things. I just trusted that what we had was so special that nothing could ever ruin it. I still dream sometimes that I am going to wake up and none of this will actually be happening.

  177. Adam Greenwood says:

    That said, I think our standards of beauty are probably off. Some things–like a preference for clearer skin, symmetry, wider hips, narrower chins, less pronounced eyebrow ridges, and so forth, are probably inherent. Others, like specific bust hip ratios and sizes or a preference for women with very flat abdomens are not.

    But deciding that something is specific to our time and place doesn’t mean that we can just will it way.

  178. Adam Greenwood says:

    On the appearance of evil thing–

    specific stories aside, appearances connect with underlying realities more than we’d like to think, and avoiding the appearances strengthen the underlying social norms.

    Rejecting at least the principle of avoiding the appearance of evil is a form of selfishness.

  179. Adam Greenwood says:

    “I like to think he has a brain tumor.”

    I’m sure it makes me a bad person, but you got me to laugh out loud.

    And maybe he does. Who knows?

  180. Anon, if all you say is true, you deserve a ton of credit for working very hard to have a great marriage. It’s your husband’s loss for not appreciating what he had. Now, I’m wondering if I could get you to have a little talk with my wife…

  181. Stephanie says:

    Anon 176, again, I appreciate you sharing your story and perspective. I totally agree that a relationship with inappropriate boundaries can change everything.

  182. Well, Anon. I think something was and is wrong with your husband. I don’t think it’s as simple as this friendship. There are marriages that are less happy than what you described that survive and thrive, even after affairs both emotional and sexual. There’s no one thing that can be pointed to besides choice.

  183. Adam Greenwood: Elaborate. Convince me. I’m not buying it.

  184. Stephanie says:

    There’s no one thing that can be pointed to besides choice.

    The choice to eat lunch alone together the first time? The second time? The fourth time? The ninth time? At what point does it go from being okay to being too much? Of course it’s a choice – each step is a choice. The problem is that as innocent choices are made, feelings are developed, and at some point, some people don’t know the difference between the feelings they have created and reality. Does that mean that there is something wrong the the person? Or just that they weren’t careful enough in setting up their boundaries?

    I sense naivete in your comments, Natasha. It drives me crazy to no end to read Anon’s comments and then have her be told repeatedly that “It couldn’t possibly be just this relationship. It must be something wrong with him”. Yeah, the something wrong with him sounds like it is that he didn’t set clear boundaries in his relationship.

  185. Well, I agree, Stephanie. He didn’t have proper boundaries. The premise of the discussion was, I believe, a question of whether or not it’s okay to have opposite sex friendships AT ALL.

  186. Stephanie says:

    I thought the premise of this discussion was whether or not women face more scrutiny than men in developing friendships with members of the opposite sex, given that A marriage can be placed in a precarious situation when one spouse forms a relationship with someone outside the marriage and begins to choose the company of that person or frequently shares personal information with that person rather than with a spouse.

  187. I think the take-away from anon 40/41 is no amount of dates at the symphony, vacations away, or mind-blowing physical connection will make it appropriate that your husband is having lots of daily contact, lunches, texting, and emails with a female friend, and even conversations where he has to clarify that he’s not planning on cheating. His so-called friendship was not conducted within appropriate boundaries. AdamF’s list is useful. ” Don’t lunch or take private coffee breaks with the same person all the time.”

    I don’t see anything in anon40/41’s husband’s inappropriate behavior to indicates I can not have appropriate normal friendships with guys who are not my husband, or that my husband can’t have appropriate normal friendships with other women.

  188. Stephanie says:

    To answer the question posed in the OP:

    Do you think differently about men who have professional and/or personal friendships with women they are not married to (“Girl Friends”), than you do about women who have the same with men (“Boy Friends”)? If so, why? If you don’t–that is, if you take Matheson’s position–does that really fit with what you’ve observed, experienced, and felt? Because, when I reflect upon the friendships my wife and I both have with different people, it doesn’t seem to fit particularly well at all.

    I take Matheson’s position. When I was in business school and working (while married), I developed good friendships with some of my male colleagues. I’ve also developed friendships through church callings while as a SAHM. But, other than that, I usually don’t meet too many men to befriend. That’s okay – I don’t have much time for women friends either. DH has female work friends (one of which crosses the line, IMO, especially now that they are both no longer working at the same place and she emails him every day) and church friends. Outside of that, I think it would be weird for either of us to seek out friends of the opposite sex, so I do believe we hold each other to the same standards.

  189. Stephanie says:

    Yes, Johnna, exactly. I’d love to hear anon’s opinion of your assessment.

  190. And to answer your question, we can’t put a number on the lunches, the conversations, etc, obviously. We can’t put specific rules and guidelines down because every relationship is different. We can’t very well make a chart detailing what the appropriate amount of contact is for people who are close in age, people who are pretty, people who have three significant things in common with us, people who have 20 little things in common with us, people who are 20 years older, and on and on. But then, just because we can’t set unique limits in advance for each individual situation, I don’t think that means we need to create a sweeping rule that we’ll never have any opposite sex friendship, full stop.

    Where’s the stopping point? When you realise you have feelings for someone that compete with the feelings you have for your spouse. Your comment insinuates that by then it’s too late. My comment is that we all have the power to stop at that point. We all have the ability to turn around, go back home, and work on our marriages. Is that harder than avoiding the situation in the first place? Hell, yes. But who’s to judge how hard it is for someone to have no opposite sex friendships? I have no dad, no brothers, very little family at all, actually. My male friends mean a great deal to me and I don’t have feelings for them that compete with the feelings I have for my husband. So, why should I sacrifice my friends to prevent a situation I really don’t see developing when I have in place boundaries and a commitment that if the unforeseeable happens, that I will tell my husband, I will distance myself from the friend, and I will get over it? It’s no different from my commitment to stay in my marriage if my husband is paralysed or if we have money problems. Extra-marital relationships don’t have magical powers to pull us away. We choose.

    My point was that many people have done that and Anon’s husband didn’t. Not because of the friendship but because of him. If it was extra-marital friendships that were the problem, then they’d be the problem for everyone. They’re not the real problem. They just make things more difficult.

    Anon suggested that they should have made a rule for each other to not have extra-marital friendships. Well, rules are broken all the time. Also, people do develop feelings without meaning to, as you have suggested, and they can develop without formal friendships in place. Instead, they could have talked about what they would do in the event of this type of situation. And maybe they did and maybe that would prevent nothing, but that just supports my point that ultimately, it’s down to the individual’s choice to bail for whatever reason.

    If we’re going to talk about prevention I think the the most important prevention should be reading about and discussing infidelity early on in marriages so that the signs can be recognised and discussing and making promises about how it will be handled if and when one spouse develops in-love feelings for someone else. Maybe anon’s husband was taken by surprise and he didn’t know that everything he was saying and doing fit a pattern. If you’re aware of the pattern in advance, it’s harder to think that your unhappiness is honest and long-standing.

    And if that doesn’t work, it’s possible that nothing would have worked. Some people are just chronic dreamers who always see the grass being greener on the other side.

    And by the way, I don’t know if it’s possible to be naïve and speak from experience simultaneously.

  191. Stephanie, I was referring to the discussion of Anon and her suggestion that they should have made a rule against opposite-sex friendships, not the original post’s discussion.

  192. Stephanie says:

    But then, just because we can’t set unique limits in advance for each individual situation, I don’t think that means we need to create a sweeping rule that we’ll never have any opposite sex friendship, full stop.

    Who is arguing this? I think the issue is about boundaries. Setting up boundaries for friendships with members of the opposite sex: I am welcome to become friends with any person in my office, but I won’t repeatedly eat lunch alone with the same person of the opposite sex. I won’t send emails or texts to coworkers that aren’t related to work when I am at home. Simple boundaries that apply to all friendships out of courtesy for your spouse.

    I get that marriages can survive emotional (and physical affairs), but the affairs still do damage and hurt. DH’s friendship with the coworker at work that I mentioned previously has really hurt me and made me want to emotionally detach from him. He cares for her as only a friend, but I do not believe the feelings are the same from her (particularly after reading her emails in which she fawns over him, tells him how much she misses him, counts the days since she last saw him, etc.) And, honestly, I predicted this based on two things: 1. They both arrived at work an hour before anyone else, so they were alone together for at least one hour per day for the last five years. 2. They ate lunch together every day.

    You can bet that these two things are boundaries that I would like to be respected in the future.

    Where’s the stopping point? When you realise you have feelings for someone that compete with the feelings you have for your spouse.

    How about before then? I would prefer DH not do things that can lead to creating feelings for someone else. The feelings alone hurt bad. Yes, you have power to stop when it gets that far, but why be so complacent about letting it get that far?

    As long as I am spilling my guts online, I’ll let you know something else. In September when this article came out in the Ensign, DH said, “That article was helpful to me to think about in my friendships at work”. When I brought it up last month because I was becoming increasingly uncomfortable with his friendship with this one woman, he said, “That article doesn’t apply here because we don’t talk to each other outside of work”. Hmmm.

    So in response to this:

    If we’re going to talk about prevention I think the the most important prevention should be reading about and discussing infidelity early on in marriages so that the signs can be recognised and discussing and making promises about how it will be handled if and when one spouse develops in-love feelings for someone else.

    I don’t think that spouses are always thinking with a clear head by that point. You might be intellectually aware of the pattern but be able to rationalize with emotion.

  193. Stephanie says:

    Okay, Natasha 191, I hear what you are saying. But, I think that anon is speaking from a position of pain and I suspect what she means is that they should have set up clear rules for boundaries in friendships with members of the opposite sex. But, she is welcome to clarify. I don’t want to speak for her.

  194. Right. Well, I was under the impression she advised avoiding them altogether and I was addressing that.

    As to your point about about avoiding pain rather than dealing with it when it comes, I agree, of course. Set up boundaries and do what you can.

    I can see how you would view my stance as complacent. It’s a fair charge. It would take some time for me to explain why I don’t think it is merely that. And I’m not sure anyone is interested. I’m not. :-) I want to go watch Grey’s Anatomy.

  195. The conversation may have moved beyond the stories of men refusing to give women rides in their cars, but I just thought I would throw out that a member in one of my ward’s on my mission frequently bragged about refusing to give any woman a ride unless his wife was there. He was the one who insisted that a friend of his did so, and it led to an affair and a divorce. (He was not, to my recollection, in any position of leadership – just a member of the High Priests group.)

    For what it’s worth, his wife frequently argued that this was a stupid notion, and that he didn’t really know what he was talking about. The two would argue about it during dinner appointments with us.

    Ah, good ol’ Victorville, California.

  196. A few thoughts occurred to me. When my seminary teacher taught us the story of David and Bathsheba, he emphasized the difference between David seeing Bathsheba, and David looking at her.

    It seems to me that the line that should not be crossed is right there, between looking and simply seeing. The world places so much emphasis on feelings, particularly sexual feelings. We’re led to believe that how we feel is justification for how we act. The gospel teaches differently, that the natural man is an enemy to God, that we are more than the summation of our animal instincts.

    We shouldn’t lock ourselves away from people, just because we’re afraid of what we might feel. (And trust me, I know what I’m talking about.) But we should downgrade the importance of feelings, realize that we are in control of what we do and dwell on, even though we might not always be in control of that first surge of emotions.

    Fidelity is not never feeling outside of marriage. Fidelity is changing our actions, controlling our thoughts the moment we realize we are feeling more than we ought. It is remaining true to the promises we have made despite what we might think or feel in the moment.

    If we don’t, if we decide that because we are feeling a particular way we should abandon a lifetime of behavior, abandon covenants and obligations, we risk losing all we have gained over the course of our lives.

    I was the one who chose to divorce my husband, but it was not because I “fell out of love” or wanted to play the field. I stuck with him through miserable years because I wanted to remain true to what I had promised. It was not until the Lord taught me that my children’s safety was in jeopardy, as well as my own, and that my husband, also, would be benefited were I to enforce his decision to leave, that I was able to take that step, devastating though it was.

    The answer is not in thinking vs. feeling, it is in using our feelings as we would use any other sense: as an input for information, but not necessarily as the final decision-maker.

    We are mortal beings, true, but we are also eternal beings. In the end, we are more than the sum of our senses, more than our feelings. When we forget that, we lose grasp of our eternity.

  197. SilverRain,

    But we should downgrade the importance of feelings, realize that we are in control of what we do and dwell on, even though we might not always be in control of that first surge of emotions. Fidelity is not never feeling outside of marriage. Fidelity is changing our actions, controlling our thoughts the moment we realize we are feeling more than we ought.

    This is very well said; I completely agree with it, though I wonder if I’m responding to it in a direction different than what you intended. As I see it, one of the issues that I’ve dealt with as I’ve struggled to discipline my own feelings in regards to a different matter is that it is sometimes actually counterproductive to make your thoughts, your temptations and struggles, so important that you feel they must be resolved, fully, one way or another. Controlling our “thoughts, words and deeds,” in the language of the scriptures, sometimes should mean just not treating our feelings as such a big deal; there are more important things to a marriage relationship than whether or not someone’s friendships or whatever perfectly align with some set of expectations at any one moment. Making that alignment important obliges you to think about it, to dwell upon it and struggle with it, and that dwelling and struggling may well only make it loom larger than it would have done otherwise–perhaps so large that the debate over the value of one’s feelings crowds out other covenants. So, in that sense, “downgrad[ing] the importance of feelings” so as to not make them seem so significant (“but do I really still love my spouse or not?”) is a bit of wise perspective, I think.

  198. I want to go watch Grey’s Anatomy.

    Judgment Fail.

  199. 197 – Victor Frankl talks about that idea quite a bit in Man’s Search for Meaning in the end when he’s talking about Logotherapy.
    Along the lines that if you dwell on something being a problem – sexual impotance, sleeplessness, general anxieties, that thinking about them constantly will turn them into a neurosis. Its probably easier to avoid them if you don’t make such a big deal out of them.
    Of course his answer was to try the opposite – for instance with sleeplessness to lay in bed and try to stay awake as long as possible, and in this you would find the humor with your problem and often you could overcome it with work. Probably wouldn’t work in this emotional infidelity situation (try to force emotional connections with said friend in order to decrease them).
    But I definitely agree with your conclusion to actively try to avoid thinking of a person you have feelings for, is still thinking about them, and may have the opposite effect desired.

  200. Stephanie says:

    SilverRain 196 – excellent points.

  201. Naismith says:

    “Well, if it can be done successfully on a science fiction TV show, I say go for it!”

    Seriously, though, a lot of people need to see how these things work (because they haven’t seen it in action), and fiction can be a non-threatening medium. This is why the Centers for Disease Control has for years placed story lines in popular TV shows, either positive role models or cautionary tales. That ER episode about a toddler dying of measles, etc.

    I agree that Anon 40/41’s husband sounds like a bad case of Cognitive Dissonance reduction–he is trying to spin the past differently in order to justify his decision.

    However, I can’t quite agree with this:

    Relationships with ‘friends’ don’t involve any really stress of a real relationship. There’s no boring kids choir events to attend, or someone who needs to pick up from football practice while someone else gets a kid to piano… The ‘friend’ relationships are much like early dating – all is fun and purely carefree.

    That hasn’t been my experience. Part of the difference is that when I say friend, I really mean it. I treat male friends pretty much like female friends. There are no quotes.

    And some of my friendships have NOT been all fun. A (female, as it happened) friend was depressed for more than a year, and I came to dread our weekly visits, but would not abandon her. I tried to be consistent and clear how much I valued her. In time, she was much better, but dropped me, I think in part because my presence reminds her of that dark time and she is embarrassed. Oh well.

    There are lots of time when my best male friends calls me on something about which I am being inconsistent, or tells me something I don’t want to hear, or asks for a favor that takes time. It has not been all fun.

  202. Stephanie says:

    Relationships with ‘friends’ don’t involve any really stress of a real relationship. There’s no boring kids choir events to attend, or someone who needs to pick up from football practice while someone else gets a kid to piano… The ‘friend’ relationships are much like early dating – all is fun and purely carefree.

    I agree with this 100%. Here’s an example. DH sees his coworker at 6 in the morning when she is fresh and made up and didn’t have to get her two kids ready for school because her husband does it. They spend 9 hours together working – no other stresses besides that. DH sees me at 6 in the evening when I have spent 12 hours taking care of/fighting with our 5 kids and am harried and stressed from trying to get dinner on the table so he can eat a bite before running out the door to his church meetings. Oh, sure, I should have my make-up perfect and nice clothes and greet him with a kiss and not let on about any of my stresses so that he will find me equally as “fascinating” as his coworker, but then there’s also reality.

    What if he saw me at 6 in the morning and we spent 9 hours together every day without children (like we did when we were dating and first married)? I suspect I would be a lot more playful and teasing and more like the fun girl he married. Yes, I know it is my responsibility to try to “stay” that girl, but at the same time, it is his responsibility to recognize the dynamics of the two situations and realize that this friendship doesn’t represent reality.

    (BTW – DH doesn’t compare me to his coworker. That’s just my insecurity speaking.)

  203. Stephanie says:

    Also, my eyes are wide open about this stuff. My dad left my mom for their LDS marriage counselor. He married her a few days after my parents’ divorce was finalized. I was 13 and old enough to know exactly what was going on. To this day he swears that he didn’t cheat on my mom. For many years, I thought he was just a liar, but now I think he’s probably telling the truth that he didn’t physically cheat on my mom. But there was definitely emotional infidelity. I was old enough to see the changes happening in my dad and in their marriage. It was like a tutorial on how emotional infidelity happens and destroys a marriage. I guess I just find this topic really serious and get irritated when the dangers are downplayed.

  204. I don’t get it Steph. Your husband works for 9 hours starting at 6 am? So that’s 6am to 3 pm? What does he do from 3 pm to 6pm when he comes home for dinner? And then he has church meetings every night after dinner? There’s something wrong with this picture.

  205. Stephanie says:

    He doesn’t work until 3. She does.

  206. “My dad left my mom for their LDS marriage counselor.”

    I’m not sure, but it seems to me this is not how marriage counseling is supposed to go. I think they were doing it wrong.

  207. Oh, ok, so he just works with his coworker for 9 hours, but he work for 12? But what about the church meetings? No one should have church meetings every night.

  208. Stephanie says:

    You think? It’s a pretty clear-cut case of inappropriate boundaries.

  209. For the (stake president) who claims that it’s wrong to give a ride to any woman to whom he’s not related:

    1. It says a lot about his character that he assumes any man with an unrelated woman in his vehicle is headed for a cheap and tawdry No-Tel Mo-Tel where the rooms are rented by the hour and the sheets get a fresh layer of disinfectant once a week.

    2. If he sees my wife or daughter walking at the side of the road in the rain and drives on past, I’ll have to assume it’s because he’s such a pretentious schmuck that he fears he might get water stains on the fine-grain leather of his Lexus seats with the additional electric warmers.

    3. When it’s his wife, would he prefer that a local same-sex member not give her a ride for fear of starting some sensational Prop-8 type gossip in the stake? Should I make a similar assumption if he gives a lift to a high councilman or bishop?

    It seems we are so intent on being fine, upstanding Mormons that we forget to be nice people.

  210. Stephanie says:

    No, he doesn’t have church meetings every night. I was using the most extreme example to try to make my point.

    DH isn’t cheating on me. He just has a friendship with one coworker that is too close for me. We’ve talked about it a lot. (A LOT) He hasn’t done anything “wrong”, but he agrees that the friendship is escalating. She is clearly flirting and fawning over him. He is a bit naive in these matters. Their company shut down a few weeks ago, and she’s been emailing him every day (sometimes twice a day). He’s surprised by this. I’m not. His eyes are not as wide open as mine are. So, we’ve got a bit of a rough patch while he navigates how to de-escalate it. I would love to jump on his email and tell her off. But, no, this is his friendship. He needs to work it out. It’s a little uncomfortable for both of us in the meantime.

  211. DH sees his coworker at 6 in the morning when she is fresh and made up and didn’t have to get her two kids ready for school because her husband does it.

    I’m not sure my male friends even look at what I am wearing. Actually, I am sure some do not. My appearance has little to do with our friendship.

    They spend 9 hours together working – no other stresses besides that.

    Either your husband has an easy job or you may be glossing over how little stress there is in the workplace. Yes, it is nice to be able to go to the bathroom alone, without the pitter-patter of little feet following me in….but there are huge stresses, and like any job, having colleagues can help.

    As a mom, having other moms to talk with about feeding solids, potty training, teaching chores–omigosh, they were such a great help. And I’m glad to have colleagues to chat with nowadays.

    Oh, sure, I should have my make-up perfect and nice clothes and greet him with a kiss and not let on about any of my stresses so that he will find me equally as “fascinating” as his coworker, but then there’s also reality.

    Seriously, Stephanie? You sound like you are competing with her for his affections, and they may be totally different sorts of relationships.

    I’m glad that the spouses of my male friends are not this paranoid. If they were, I would certainly cut off contact. I do not want to be a home wrecker! I want a different piece of him, not the one she has.

    My closest male friend has NEVER complained about his wife, not in the decade I have known him. When he does mention her, it is 70% glowing praise about this or that amazing thing she does. I know his wife is the love of his life.

    She is glad that I understand some of his crazy interests (string theory in physics) that don’t interest her. She didn’t want to see the movie that a group of us went to at one of the last conferences where we were together, so she was happy that he went with us instead of getting her to go.

    Indeed, I wouldn’t be close friends with anyone who wasn’t in a happy relationship. I have no interest in those mutual complaining sorts of codependencies.

    Yes, I know it is my responsibility to try to “stay” that girl, but at the same time, it is his responsibility to recognize the dynamics of the two situations and realize that this friendship doesn’t represent reality.

    Okay, this is where you lost me. Yes, his friendship may indeed represent reality, just a different reality than your marriage. I am offended that efforts to build relationships with people over years is dismissed as “unrealistic.”

    I am not trying to have a romantic relationship with them. Yes, it is not like a marriage. I have never tried to compete with anyone’s wife. So calling it “unrealistic” seems like a very black-and-white, all-or-nothing approach to human relationships.

    It’s a friendship. It’s very real. We’ve been through up times and down times to keep that relationship alive. We’ve both sacrificed and stretched to get here.

    My friendships with men have strengthened my marriage in so many ways. I supported my husband in getting his advanced degree and pursuing the career of his dreams because of being friends with men who hated their jobs. One of my husband’s requests was that since one male friend and I read books together a lot, that I would share some of those books with my him, so he knew what we were discussing. So I often read to my husband while he is doing dishes, etc. His father’s day present this year is something that a male friend recommended.

    I take this topic just as seriously as anyone, and I resent the implication that I do not.

    Oh, and in the light of Manuel’s comments I should explain that when I say “favors” I mean stuff like serving on advisory committees, reviewing grant proposals, writing peer-recommendation letters, etc.

  212. Also, Stephanie and Anon, I do not take your pain lightly and I am not saying that there is no risk at all. You certainly know better what is going on in your particular situation.

    I am just not sure it generalizes to principles that apply in all cases. I do think it is possible for a healthy friendship to exist across genders. And I am not sure that turning one’s back on the blessings of a friendship is either required nor always best for all involved.

  213. Stephanie says:

    Naismith, your friendship with your coworker is not the same friendship as DH has with his. I was not comparing the two, and I don’t think you should either. You are projecting your appropriate friendship onto a friendship that has crossed the line into inappropriate. DH even acknowledges that.

    I’m sorry that my comment sounded like I was directing it toward you and your life. I was not. I was just stating why I do agree with anon’s statement. You said you disagree and stated why. I said I agree and stated why. But, I wasn’t trying to argue with your point. I was making a separate point.

  214. Stephanie says:

    Naismith, we cross-posted. I agree. I’ve never argued that married people shouldn’t have friends of the opposite sex. I am arguing a lot for establishing clear boundaries for those friendships that everyone is comfortable with. I thought the Ensign article was so spot-on in this regard.

  215. Stephanie says:

    An interesting idea came out of a similar discussion (started by me) on FMH. That of work spouses.

    The funny thing is that DH brought it up to me when we were discussing his friendship. He took the quiz (6 out of 7). Now that I understand where he is coming from (he didn’t know how to articulate the relationship), I get it. I can see how they can be very close and his feelings be platonic. He and I are not sure about her feelings, but we both agree that there is no room in our marriage for a “work spouse”, and we agree on boundaries for the future. Phew!

  216. I think we LDS people tend to go a bit overboard in everything. All or nothing type thinking. I had a former stake president teach an Thursday morning mostly all older adult class. The topic of marriage came up and he said what we all know by our age–in the Millennium there will be lots of
    switching of spouses even though they’ve been sealed in the temple. The fact is that choosing someone for eternity when
    you are only 20 years old –it isn’t always going to be a good match. He counseled quite a few good members who would come to him and say their spouse was a wonderful
    person but they’re just mismatched and would make a
    different choice one day if they could. They wanted to know
    whether the Lord would make their temple marriage last
    eternally anyway. His answer was that the Lord wants
    people who can make and keep a committment here. And these
    people told him that they didn’t think there was a reason
    for divorcing their spouse here–they just didn’t want to be
    sealed to that person eternally. He said the Lord wouldn’t
    make them stay together forever.
    Having said that, in a lifetime we meet ALOT of members of the opposite sex–and we aren’t attracted to all of them.
    How many have you met that you’d really want to marry?
    Many people never meet anyone in this life to marry.
    Most people are not interested in most of the opposite sex that way. There aren’t any men I’m so gaga over that it would be too tempting for me to give them a ride to a gas station if they had a flat tire! That’s the case with most of us. There has to be something special–you can’t make that happen with anyone and everyone. Gordon Hinckley and Marjorie
    were meant for each other. We’ve all known marriages like theirs. If you’re married here
    and not well matched and you meet someone that you would have chosen had he come along before you married–of course
    you’re going to feel something. Acknowledge it and know you’ve got a name to look up at a future proper time. Many people won’t even meet someone special to them in this life and here you have. And if you want to have another chance at forming an equally-yolked eternal marriage one day, keep your temple covenants now and
    wait until the time is right and you will be blessed.
    There are Abrahamic tests here. And we can pass them
    honorably. It’s horrible to have a spouse leave you–especially when you’ve done everything so correctly.
    No one deserves that. But if it happens, know that you’ve
    got another chance to find someone who will treasure you
    the way you thought your former spouse would. And if
    you’re true to your covenants, it will happen. God sees the end from the beginning–He already sees you with your eternal mate.

  217. Stephanie says:

    If you’re married here
    and not well matched and you meet someone that you would have chosen had he come along before you married–of course
    you’re going to feel something. Acknowledge it and know you’ve got a name to look up at a future proper time.

    Seriously?

  218. MikeInWeHo says:

    re: 216
    Not fair! You all get an eternity of celestial wife-swapping and I can’t even have a boyfriend and stay in the Church??

  219. Latter-day Guy says:

    meg, I don’t doubt that your SP may have taught that, but, to quote Frences de la Tour, “that is the most colossal balls.”

  220. Latter-day Guy says:

    Frences = Frances

  221. LdG is right. And meg, if you were married to me and just keeping your covenants so you could meet someone else in the eternities I would kick you to the curb in a heartbeat. If you think that’s a way to make a good marriage you better think again.

  222. Mike, just be glad you don’t have people like meg lurking in your dating pool. You are blessed, my friend.

  223. Kristine says:

    MCQ–be nice.

  224. MCQ,
    I agree with you.

    I also agree with Kristine.

  225. Thomas Parkin says:

    I think many many married people feel what meg has expressed. I’ve been that person. People make all kinds of compromises in life, and if done in an open way, hers may be totally valid. I have my doubts that her stand can usually be made last in the long run, though. The heart and soul will demand their own. ~

  226. Cynthia L. says:

    He counseled quite a few good members who would come to him and say their spouse was a wonderful person but they’re just mismatched and would make a different choice one day if they could.

    I’m curious what MCQ, LdG and others would say to a couple in this situation?

  227. Latter-day Guy says:

    “You buttered your bread, now sleep in it.”

    Seriously, I am not a marriage counselor, or in a position to give ecclesiastical advice. While I acknowledge that such a situation must be very tough, I’m not sure how it’s helpful to posit some kind of post-mortal spousal swap-a-thon. I also don’t think it’s true. But, hey, I could be wrong––bring on the millennial marital roulette!

  228. MikeInWeHo says:

    If I find myself straight in the millennium, I’m definitely going after Tracy M. Sorry meg, please keep me off your celestial standby list!

  229. Cynthia,
    To me the problem is not at all the idea that there will be a “post-mortal spousal swap-a-thon.” Whether there is such a thing or not, it’s problematic to introduce such an idea as a coping mechanism for a struggling couple during mortality because it gives them the perverse incentive of not trying to become anything more than the troubled, out-of-love couple they are now.

    I would prefer a spouse who loves me and wants to be with me for eternity. If I can’t have that, I would prefer a spouse who wants to want to be with me for eternity and is going to try her best to make that happen. If I can’t have that, I would prefer a spouse with the decency to seek greener pastures sooner than later, so that we’re not both cheated.

    I absolutely do not want a spouse who a) does not want to be with me for eternity and b) has abandoned all hope of changing her mind.

  230. Scott, you took the words right out of my mouth. I agree 100%

    Cynthia, I would tell them to go home and get to work on their marriage. You thought you were in love one, why was that? Cultivate that feeling again. If you honestly can’t do that then get divorced. That’s much more honest than just lingering along through mortal life in hopes of meeting your eternal hottie. Plus, that just won’t work. If your heart isn’t in your marriage, you can’t make your body stay there either. It’s just pernicious crap to believe what meg is preaching.

  231. Mommie Dearest says:

    I hope I’m not opening up a #10 can-o-worms, but is there any doctrinal basis for #216 at all?Is that based on any actual revelation, or is it just speculatory arm of flesh logic run amok?

  232. Mommie Dearest says:

    Er–I just gave 229 a more careful reading and got my answer. Carry on.

  233. Call it a date, Mike.

  234. Cynthia L. says:

    To be clear, I don’t endorse meg’s idea. I just thought it would be helpful to hear perspectives on what would be a good plan, rather than just saying that hers sucks.

    I can conceive of it possibly for some set of people being possibly useful to take a breather on the idea of being with the person forever and ever and ever. That might be just enough feeling of dread lifting that there would be space to get to work on that marriage and then eventually come back around to the idea of being married for eternity. I don’t know, seems conceivably possible.

    But the idea of making a list of specific people in this life to whom you would rather be married, even if you’ve vowed not to act on it, seems like playing with fire, and lighter fluid, in a drought-stricken forest.

  235. Whatever, SB2. You know you have a list like 10 deep…

  236. Cynthia L. says:

    Do movie stars count?

  237. living in zion says:

    Years ago a guy in my husband’s elders class put Meg’s #216 idea out there. He was extremely unhappily married to a most unpleasant woman. We all knew how whacked she was, and we also understood him to be just as imbalanced. In a sad, twisty way they were equally yoked in nuttiness.
    Anywho, this guy explained that he was surviving his marriage (which produced 6 weird kids) by knowing that in the next life all the righteous men like himself, would get to line up and pick a new woman. His sincere belief was met with stunned silence then an irruption of laughter as the men pondered swapping their wives for his.

    22 years later my husband and I still joke about swapping for a newer, better model, etc. in the next life. It was funny then and it still makes me laugh to think of that poor man’s coping skill being the idea that if he just endured to the end with crazy woman, he would be rewarded with Barbie in the next. Right up there with the suicide bombers believing that they would be rewarded with 72 virgins in the next life.

  238. living in zion says:

    MikeinWeHo-

    If I am a lesbian in the next life, I’m going for Tracy M! Have you seen her latest post on “Danelion Mamma”? She shows her AMAZING project repairing an antique quilt. It is truly stunning and worthy of Grand Prize at the State Fair. She is one gifted, imaginative person. I bow to her abilities to make magic out of nothing.

  239. equally yolked, ftw.

  240. MikeInWeHo says:

    I’m going to start a web site to help Mormons pre-arrange their afterlife romances. It will be called eTernity.

  241. MikeInWeHo says:

    Or maybe Celection.com
    Yeah, that’s even better.

  242. eTernity. HAHAHAHA!

  243. Kevin Barney says:

    You know those lists people have where they get a free pass for specific people? Usually movie stars; someone’s wife can have sex with Brad Pitt, Johnny Depp, or Matt Damon, or whoever. Maybe we could extend that concept to the afterlife…

  244. Chad Too says:

    Dibs on Tina Fey!

  245. Remember that episode of 30 Rock where Tina Fey grew a moustache in like 18 hours?

  246. aloof observer says:

    Consider the following statement from Brigham Young:

    I think it has been taught by some that as we lay down our bodies they will so rise in the resurrection with all the impediments and imperfections that they have here; and that if a wife does not love her husband in this estate, she cannot love him in the next. This is not so. Those who attain to the blessings of the first or celestial resurrection will be pure and holy, and perfect in body. Every man and woman that reaches to this unspeakable attainment will be as beautiful as the angels that surround the throne of God. If you can, by faithfulness in this life attain the right to come up in the morning of the resurrection, you need entertain no fears that the wife will be dissatisfied with her husband or the husband with the wife, for those of the first resurrection will be free from sin and from the consequences and power of sin.

    I guess we just need patience!

  247. After giving Meg’s comment some thought, I don’t think it’s so altogether ridiculous. I wasn’t sure what she meant by Millennial spouse swapping. I think what she meant was that people will essentially get divorced and remarried, which isn’t any different from this life, so that’s not crazy. Swapping for trysies is funny. If we just get to swap for fun then I have dibs on Jude Law and Katherine Heigl… at the same time.

    In all seriousness, I’m not so sure that if we make it to the Celestial Kingdom that we’ll even want to trade in our spouses. But maybe we will. I know of one couple (via mutual friends) where the husband is very brilliant, philosophical, imaginative, funny. He writes a blog full of ginormous blog posts that she never reads. They don’t talk and she doesn’t share his interest in thinking and discussing things, etc. I can only assume that he will continue growing and learning at his own rate and she will at her own rate and because they are so unevenly matched now, they will always be out of sync. Right? No? It’s possible.

    I don’t think that it will be impossible to back out of an eternal marriage once we get to the CK. We always have a choice. What I think is probably more likely is that we will choose between our spouses and being alone, not between our spouses and a back-up list. But maybe not!

    I know it’s different from women who are sealed to one husband and then married for life to another with whom they were married longer and loved more, but is it that different? Those women will get a choice, I’ve always been told. In fact, after they die, they are able to be sealed to all their husbands, for that specific reason: choice.

    I agree with what Scott said completely but I don’t think that would exactly be the psychological outcome for every person who takes on Meg’s Stake President’s idea– that they’ll just completely give up. I think what Scott proposed is likely for many people. But it’s also possible that it could actually free up a person’s burdens such that they feel they can work on things. If they’re no longer operating out of fear, that leaves room for operating out of love. Fear and love tend to be opposites and replace each other. The idea that every person would have the same reaction– giving up– to the same idea is not very logical given how people respond differently to all kinds of ideas. Feeling like you have to make your marriage work or else can stir up feelings of rebellion. Feeling hope that, no matter what, you will be happy one day might make a person feel like they have more choice. And then they might realise that the perfect outcome would be to make their current families their forever families.

    And if we will be so spiritual, so loving, so wise and evolved, once we get to the CK that we could really be married to anyone and be happy (which is another very likely possibility, I think) then maybe it won’t matter what mental strategies we employ here if it keeps our marriages together. (Although, in the instance that Meg mentioned, these were couples who said they didn’t want to be divorced. But I’m thinking more about crazy man and his crazy wife with their weird 6 kids).

  248. partner shuffling, gag. More reason for me not to believe in eternal marriage, as if polygamy hadn’t already been enough.

    My marriage became immensely better the day I began thinking of it as something that is happening now. I don’t find all that eternity talk romantic at all.

    Even that generic Christian soft-focus “of course I’ll see my friends and family in heaven” looks better.

  249. I believe the Church teaches that if you both make the CK Kingdom, your spouse will do??? But what if you find out your spouse is a billion years older than you?

  250. wow that’s a funny concept…eternal partner swap.

    My concept of love doesn’t jive with that. Love isn’t a place you fall or something the other person makes you feel..it is a way of being…kindness, patient, tender, selfless

    attraction is a place you fall…but what you do from there is up to you. I do think attraction is important in marriage.

    I do think some people are easier to love, and at times we are all easier or more difficult to love.

    I just can’t imagine that you would learn to love forever by planning to leave(in the eternities), or by leaving…(please know that is abuse aside)

    that said…”equally yoked in nuttiness” is just an awesome phrase.

  251. I’m sure there are many here who know much better than I, but the way sealing was explained to me was that no one is actually sealed to another person anyway — we are all sealed to the covenant. It is the sealing to the covenant that binds us all together. So it doesn’t seem that far fetched that if those who are sealed (it doesn’t matter to whom) want to break up and “marry” someone else, it would work. It’s the sealing ordinance that is important – not the person you’re sealed to.

    Am I totally off base here? This was what I was taught. Does someone actually know the doctrine behind this?

  252. Emmanuel Swedenborg (whom Joseph Smith said had “a view of the world to come”) who taught that there was marriage in heaven also taught that many people were wrongly matched and that those people who were would find and join their true soul mates in heaven.

  253. Stephanie says:

    What Scott B said in 229.

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