Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Thoughts on the Being Friends...with Married Women

So, on Tuesday and Thursday mornings I have this odd time at work. I am pushed out of my office to make way for a doctor that works those specific mornings. She needs to have a private office, and we also happen to need someone to check in patients those days. So...boom! It works with minimum hassle except I don't have the software I need to do most of my job.

Often times between patients, I have this lull of about 45 minutes or so, which of course gives me time to ruminate on things. Because of a conversation last night I was pondering the old question, “Can men and women just be friends?” The obvious answer is nes. I mean yo. I think you know exactly what I mean. Sure, we can be friends with the opposite sex. And sure, sometimes we can even be really good friends with the opposite sex. But, after last night’s conversation, I realized what we are really asking is, “Can two people be friends if there is attraction between them?” This means can two gay dudes just be friends, a straight dude and a lesbian, a lesbian and a straight woman. You get the picture. The question is when you open the doors of deeper affection, can pure friendship still exist?
And I would say, yes, with certain parameters. And that is where this particular post is headed. You see, I have three couples in my life where I am better friends with the wife than I am with the husband. However, I have grown up in church long enough, and have just observed couples long enough to realize that just isn’t the best thing. So, I have had to adapt my relationships with each couple. So, what follows is how I changed my approach to these three couples in order to bless and affirm their union, while all three of us know that I happen to know the wife better.

John and Sheridan
I’ll start with the newest of the three couples: John and Sheridan. First, these two are just amazing. They are probably the most potent punch of leadership, education, beauty and compassion walking the earth. I met them somewhere between 2006 and 2010. I think we saw and acknowledged each other from afar for about a year. Met in some random class, I believe “Job and Human Suffering” with Dr. Butler. (P.S. have any of you gotten a graded copy of a single paper from that class yet? I still haven’t and we’re honing in on 2014!) Then, we experienced Job’s suffering in Systematic Theology 3 together…coincidentally, the only class in my entire education career that defeated me and made me cry. Like literal tears. Ask me about it sometime. Fun story.
So, here’s the story with John and Sheridan. I came to know them pretty much together. Sheridan and I just simply had more time together through classes. John, I believe took a break for a little while, and also, had different classes. Sheridan and I just ended up in class after class together, usually randomly sitting next to each other something like 3 quarters in a row. So, this was simply a matter of time. However, I found out the two of them were moving to Atlanta and thought, “Cool. Let me help you move.” And my gut said, “Talk to John.” So, that is where I started. And what was plain and simple to me was this: my wanting to love on this couple needed to be done in a way that said, “John…I know Sheridan is your wife. I am serving you as well as her and that bun in the oven. So, man…you and I don’t know each other all that well, but I extend my hand to you. Cool?”

Scott and Ashley
Desi and Cody

And that was basically it. In this particular relationship, anytime I want to share something with Sheridan the email or the text is sent to both. I think it would be fine to just text either of them, but I would rather be so above board that there is no reason to question anything. It is simply honoring John, and by proxy honoring Sheridan and now their little boy.
The other two couples I went to college with the wife. In one case I have come to know the husband reasonably well, but not so much in the other. Cody and Desi Caraway started dating the summer I moved to SoCal and got married shortly after. I came back and did music for the wedding even. Scott and Ashley Phillips started dating in SoCal before I got there, and got married shortly after. I did music in their wedding. (Seems to be a running theme!)
Quick side notes on these couples: Desi and Cody are stalwarts. They stand strong in the midst of adversity. They love each other and their baby girl so well. They really are just a good strong people. Scott and Ashley are just…amazing. I really can’t think of an adjective better. They are talented. They have vision. They make things happen that seem impossible.
So, here is the deal. Scott and Cody both know that I am better friends in their wives. Living in Southern California afforded me the chance to get to know Scott. Scott and Ashley’s awesome crew of friends made that even easier since they invited me into many different gatherings. Scott is also one of the most secure individuals I know. He and Ashley really helped me navigate these waters early on. Scott was quite grace-filled. Just like with John and Sheridan, I always initiated with both Scott and Ashley…well, maybe not at the very first. When I moved to SoCal, I hit a big slump and Ashley was my only friend. So we had a couple of outings with just us. And I thank both Scott and Ashley for letting that happen. Scott knew and understood things. I think once we even had a conversation about how it worked with me being such good friends with Ashley. But the point of the whole thing was just honesty with Scott and developing a relationship with him. That was the key in this case. I needed Scott to know, “Hey man…I am for you. I want to support you in this relationship too. K? Cool.”
Which leads to Cody and Desi. I don’t know Cody that well, but from what little I do know, I trust he is a lot like Scott. He is confident, and trusts Desi. However, he and I just never had time to build what Scott and I did. And in this case, I had to learn to radically adapt. Desi and I still send a random text maybe every month or so, maybe two months…but it nearly always includes other friends. The way I have learned to respect Cody and support him is to act in a way that is completely above reproach. Leah or Scott or Mark or Josh have the same text I sent Desi. And so far, I think that works. And if it doesn’t Cody…just tell me!
I know this may seem like dribble and kind of useless processing, but what I realized is that it is a way for me to live out love. I love all six of these kids. They are amazing. But, just because I am better friends with the ladies, does not mean that I have a right to continue on as things were. It means that though my life is the same, the way I go about relationship changes. It is how I support them together. And though it seems like I overkill, I look at divorce rates and say, “Not really.” So many things happen in the course of any relationship, romantic or not. In cases where things can be misunderstood, we have to be supporters of the relationship that at the end of the day matters most. Of course, as Christians we would say God first, but a close second is the spouse. And that is what I want to be about…helping strengthen those I love in order to thrive. 

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