“Do you want a milkshake or a cup of coffee?”
“You know me. What do you think I want?”
“Cookies and cream milkshake for her, and a vanilla milkshake for me.”
Sounds like an exchange that would happen between a husband and wife, right? Well, it wasn’t. It was an exchange I had with my ex-boyfriend S. when I saw him a couple of months ago. I was in town visiting my parents without Trae and had a chance to catch up with him. Trae not only knew and approved of me grabbing milkshakes with S., but he also told me to tell S. hi for him and sorry he missed seeing him.
I dated S. for about two years, and honestly the relationship ended because we were both too young and immature for a serious relationship. We had different life goals and weren’t able to compromise. Compromising, along with similar goals, is key in a marriage. While our break or relationship wasn’t the easiest, our friendship has always been a supportive one.
Trae was the first boyfriend I had who was okay with me being close friends with an ex-boyfriend. And honestly, I think it is okay for men and women to be friends, as long the friendship doesn’t hurt or hinder the relationship between husband and wife. Trae saw the value of the friendship, and since he saw the value of the friendship, he never asked me to stop talking to S.
For me, it is nice to have a male’s perspective on issues, and there is a comfort in talking to someone who has known me for close to fifteen years. (I almost went into a retirement home when he said his nephew was turning ten!) Yet that comfort is completely different than the comfort I get from my husband. The comfort from the friendship comes from seeing ourselves change from those insecure college kids to independent adults. Those fifteen years have seen job changes, relationships come and go, and a cancer battle. (S. is kicking cancer’s butt!)
When I met Trae, I still had growth to do, but many of my battles to figure out who I was had already happened. With Trae, I have new growth: trying to figure out who I am as a wife and partner. During that growth, it has been nice to have a friend to remind me of how far I have come in my life. Yet, during these conversations I have with S., he never disrespects or puts Trae down.
This friendship can and will be sustained because S. respects Trae. And part of that respect is acknowledging Trae and the role Trae plays in my life. To show respect, S. will talk to Trae on the phone too and does not mention things like “Well when Carrie and I dated, blah blah.” S. is smart and leaves the past in the past. Sure, S. and I go down memory lane, but rarely do we talk about when we dated. Honestly two years of dating out of fifteen years of knowing each other is a small fraction of time. S. understands and respects the relationship between husband and wife
Another reason the friendship will last is because I am upfront and honest with Trae. I never hide my text messages or phone calls that I have with S. Just the other day, Trae came home from playing hockey and I was talking to S. about his latest cancer update. I heard Trae come in and told S. I had to run. Trae heard S.’s voice and yelled, “Keep talking. I am going to jump in shower. Hi S.!” When Trae got out of the shower, I told him what S. and I gabbed about as well as the latest cancer update. If I was trying to hide or down play the phone conversations, then Trae would get suspicious and he would have every reason to be suspicious. Honesty is one of the biggest reasons that Trae is fine with my friendship with S.
And if I ever felt the need to hide information about S. from Trae, then I would really need to rethink the friendship. If I ever felt that the friendship could or would cause damage to my relationship with Trae, then the friendship would end. A big part of marriage is putting your marriage first. It doesn’t matter if the friendship is between a male and female or two females, friendships that hinder your marriage should not be maintained. Check back Thursday for a more in-depth post on why some mixed gender friendships can be toxic to your marriage.