I'm glad my husband has close female friends - this is why

Photo: Shutterstock
Photo: Shutterstock 

When I started dating my now husband he introduced me to two of his closest friends – both women.

I remember at the time feeling immensely happy that these two women were in his life.

They are two of the kindest and devoted friends anyone could have and they always have his back.

One of the women even stood beside him as he married me, as his Best Woman.

I'm comfortable with his female friendships, and he has never expressed concern, or jealously, about the male friends in my life.

But a recent article I read outlined the "rules" partners should put in place for friendships of the opposite sex and it got me thinking. Is it ok for long term partners to have friends of the opposite sex?

Dating and relationships coach Debbie Rivers said many happy couples have friends of the opposite sex.

"We are no longer in the dark ages, but the key is for the couple to have open and honest communication about friendships," Ms Rivers said.

"Communication is definitely the key to a long, lasting successful relationship."

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She said as people get married later in life, many bring long-term opposite-sex friendships into their marriage relationship.

"While the friendships were great during singlehood, in marriage, these relationships may prove problematic," she said.

"Have an open and honest conversation about your friendships and have boundaries in place about what is and isn't acceptable, then it is not left to chance or misunderstandings.

"For some people, it is a big deal and for others it isn't."

What doesn't work is when one person in the relationship lies about their friendships.

"I have coached singles and couples in this area and issues have come up when one partner has not been happy about a long standing friendship," she said.

"The other partner has then hidden the friendship and the lying causes big problems.

"Anything that is, or has, to be a secret will always be a problem."

She said there were a number of reasons someone might feel threatened including being cheated on in the past, insecurity and a previous sexual history between the friends.

"The situation's different if there has been a romantic history between the friends, especially if sex was involved," she said.

"In these cases it may be better if you err on the side of caution and it is way too easy for this friendship to cause friction and insecurity.

"In these cases, talking about the situation and ensuring your partner is genuinely comfortable with the friendship is essential."

Relationship counselor Shane Warren said communication was key.

"Trust and open communications are the bedrock to a healthy relationship - if we can not talk openly about what we think and feel, knowing it will not weaken, but rather strengthen our trust in one another, then we really need to take some time to review the relationship we are in," Mr Warren said.

"This is why friendship is so important as it is the external reflection our friends make of us and our relationship that help us identify the good and bad parts of our relationship."

He said both friends and your partner play a big role in shaping you as a person.

"It is about honouring both dynamics - remember we would not be the person who our partners fell in love with without our friends and the role they have had in shaping us to be the person we are," Mr Warren said.

"Just like we would not evolve into the person we are becoming without the influences of our partner.

"So, it is important that we accept the roles each party plays in our lives and we just need to be brave and accept that we all grow and change as life progresses so we will never stay the same for either party."