Friends play an extremely important role in our lives, and this remains true after we’re married as well. We need to cultivate good, true, loyal, and honest friendships that not only bring out the best in us but also bring out the very best in our marriage.
On the other hand, we need to stay away from toxic friendships that have the potential to harm our marriage.
We often become like the people we hang out with the most.
We’re certainly going to have friends from various walks of life–and this is a good thing–but we can’t allow ANY of them to harm our marriage. Check out “The 5 Friends that Every Woman Needs” for more on this.
So, how can we recognize a “good” friend from a “bad” one? We have to understand the kind of friendship behaviors that negatively impact our marriage.
Here are the 5 friends that are bad for your marriage:
1. The friend who talks badly about HIS/HER spouse
When I was growing up, my mom would sometimes point out that I sounded like some of my friends. She’d say things like, “You are never his whiny. You’ve been around ______ too much.”. I thought she was just nagging me at first, but then I would catch myself in the act. It’s crazy how we will often take on similar behaviors to the company we keep.
If our friend consistently cuts down her husband, then over time we will naturally start to see our own spouse in an unfavorable light. In an effort to validate her or make her feel better, we end up hurting our marriage with the negative words we say and the thoughts we allow to take root in our mind.
When it comes to our marriage, we must surround ourselves with people who WANT to have a good marriage. During more vulnerable times, we might find ourselves complaining about our spouse to one of our friends. It’s bound to happen a time or two. But, this CANNOT become the norm. It’s toxic to our friendship AND our marriage.
2. The friend who talks badly about YOUR spouse
This may seem like a no-brainer, but I’ve talked to too many couples who have so-called “best friends” who constantly bash their spouses. This simply CAN’T happen.
The most common excuse I hear when this issue is addressed is, “He/She knew me before I married my husband, and he/she is overprotective of me.”. That may be true, but it doesn’t make bashing your spouse okay. When we allow our friends to say whatever nasty thing they want to say about our spouse, we’re placing our friendship ahead of our marriage. This is not only unhealthy, but it is wrong. After God, our spouse deserves our allegiance and loyalty. Our friends must come after our family.
We need to let our friends know that it’s NOT OKAY to call our spouse names or complain about what he/she does or does not do for us. It perpetuates a negative cycle in our minds and hearts and creates an unhealthy co-dependent friendship that will harm our marriage.
3. The friend who is always trying to put you against your family
A true friend will encourage us to be close to our spouse and children–not the other way around. Any friend that demands more of your time and says things like, “She has you whipped”, or “He takes too much of your time”, or “She’s too controlling of you time”, or “You should be able to do whatever you want to do without calling home”, is not a good influence on us and is certainly not considering our devotion to our family.
Our friends should never expect us to choose them over our family or try to stir up a fight because they’re wanting more of our time. The bottom line is that we definitely need to spend time with our friends, but that time can never be at the expense of our own family. If we are spending too many nights out with our girlfriends, our marriage will suffer. Too many nights out with the boys will lead to a lonely marriage. It’s all about balance, but our marriage must always come first. For more on this, please read “When a Husband and Wife Don’t See Eye to Eye”.
4. The friend who hates marriage in general
Like I said earlier, we SHOULD have friends from varying backgrounds and life experiences. This is a beautiful thing. But, this means that all of us will most certainly have different opinions about various things. We shouldn’t end a friendship simply because we don’t agree with everything he/she says, but we can’t be close friends with someone who won’t respect our beliefs or tries to belittle our values.
We might have some friends who are divorced and currently have a very negative attitude towards marriage in general. I’m not saying that we shouldn’t support them during this heartbreaking time. We absolutely should. We just need to make sure that our conversations aren’t anti-marriage.
I had a friend who started hanging out with two divorced women who would always tell her that being single was so much better than being married. They would go out to restaurants and clubs at least one night a week together. My friend was the only married woman in the group. Eventually, she started arguing with her husband over little things and telling him that he wasn’t a good husband. After some time, she threatened divorce, and eventually she moved out of their home and into an apartment with those single women. Her husband was shocked at how fast all of this happened. The sad thing about this situation is that the couple divorced three years ago, and my friend is just now realizing where she went wrong in both her friendships and her marriage. She so desperately wants to get back together with her husband, but he is now with someone else.
Friends, I don’t want this to happen to any of us. God wants all of us to have strong marriages and beautiful friendships. Relationships make life so rich when they are healthy and in balance. Let’s be sure to seek out and maintain loyal friendships that are mutually encouraging and uplifting and bring out the best in our marriages and families.
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