Is there room for platonic friendships in marriage?

Cheating couples

Developing close friendship with an opposite gender if you are married is a tricky situation.

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What you need to know:

  • Developing close friendship with an opposite gender if you are married is a tricky situation.
  • There is always a high chance that one of you will harbour hopes of something deeper.

After listening to a tale or two of woe from couples, I am wondering whether to adopt the mantra, trust no one and suspect everyone. I have mostly trusted Hubby to observe his boundaries when it comes to dealing with people from my species, and he does the same when it comes to my dealings with the sons of Adam. Marriage is about trust and maturity, and it is impossible to prefect an adult. But Kevin’s story, which sounds like a mini thriller of relationships has left me confused about the boundaries between trust and indulgence.

Kevin had no qualms with his wife Anna, retaining her friendship with her childhood friend Gerald. In fact, with time, Gerald became close friends with Kevin, so much so that he asked Kevin to be his best man at his wedding. Anna and Gerald’s wife, Marion became their close family friends.

You know where this is heading and yes, it got there. Behind their respective spouse’s backs, Gerald and Ann had a whole other parallel romantic relationship.

“They were married, in every sense, even had a child in between our other children.”

Kevin says that he considered Gerald a brother and did not suspect anything. Indeed, soap operas borrow their content from real life and not the other way round.

How did Kevin and Marion find out?

Deceitful relationship

The two couples did a classic couple retreat late last year. One evening, Anna was missing for quite a lengthy time and Kevin got concerned when her phone remained unanswered. He took a stroll by the beach and as it turned out, Anna and Gerald had also done the same. Only they were taking more than a stroll when he walked in on them.

“It is said that a normal human reaction in such circumstances is to fight or flee. I froze.”

Mega drama and premium tears later, Kevin and Marion learnt that Anna and Gerald had been at this beach cottage before and were simply reliving their previous romantic time. Trust is lost and five children are heartbroken and confused.

Kevin walked out and has not seen his three children since. Marion took up a job offer out of the country and left with her two children.

You hear a story like this and short of being paranoid, you start to wonder whether you have been naïve all your life or is it that some people have an extra mean gene.

Why didn’t Anna and Gerald marry long before entangling Kevin in their deceitful relationship? How exhausting it must be to hide for so many years!

Tricky situation

When something seems so mind boggling, I like to imagine that there must be some element of mental illness involved. Like a kleptomaniac whose mental disorder cannot allow them to resist the thrill they experience from stealing, even when it causes them immense shame and damages relationships. Might there be a case like that, and could it be the one inflicting the likes of Anna and Gerald?

Some months ago, I wrote about how it takes a certain level of maturity to sustain a healthy marriage relationship, and how not to get into a fit of jealous accusations if your spouse has a friend of the opposite sex.

I have now learned that not every suspicious spouse is suffering a case of morbid jealousy. Both men and women experience a blood boiling moment when they find their spouse paying attention to another person of the opposite gender. While an ex is one of those that should be held at arm’s bay, for obvious reasons, developing close friendship with an opposite gender if you are married is a tricky situation. There is always a high chance that one of you will harbour hopes of something deeper.

I have had male friends who want to meet up for coffee and we have met. Most of them are genuinely interested in discussing things like a book they are working on and want editorial guidance. A few suicidal elements just want to ‘hang out’ and I remind them that I am married and careful on how I engage with the opposite gender.

“I am married too!” one told me.

It becomes exhausting to retain this kind of male friendship when you are a married woman, and I want to imagine it is the same for a married man. There is a thin line between trust and indulgence. You allow the ‘friend’ an inch and they might just take a mile.

Karimi is a wife who believes in marriage. [email protected]