MsDora, Certified Christian Counselor, has spent four decades empowering young and adult women to pursue positive, productive womanhood.
Respect for Marriage Is Important
Not every single woman who tampers with someone else's marriage will become the man's soul mate (as did the woman in the 2009 affair with the married governor from South Carolina).
Not every every single woman will engage in sexual activity with another woman's husband.
However, if a single woman cheats a couple of their time together or in any way makes herself a substitute wife, she hinders the sanctity and the purpose of the marriage. Marriage vows make room for one wife for every husband, and no outsider is permitted to share the role of either spouse in the relationship.
A Single Woman's Disrespect
Take the example of single Susie. Another woman's husband has chosen her to be his best friend because he trusts her more than he can trust anyone else. They share their deepest feelings mutually on the level at which many wives (including his) wish they could share with their husbands. Theirs is strictly an emotional intimacy, which they have enjoyed since they studied together back in college.
However, after marriage, the man's relationship with his wife becomes his primary relationship, and Susie should expect the wife to replace her as her friend's number one soul mate. By ignoring the presence of the wife, she is actually ignoring the marriage, and the man is allowing it to happen.
Susie and her friend call or text every day, sometimes twice or more, because they care about each other. Because the man does not deny his friendship with Susie, and because he does not hide the fact that he cherishes their friendship, he credits himself with being honest. He is one of those people who feel that a confession makes everything right, since they do the wrong out in the open. Susie talks with the wife too, but only when necessary.
The wife is not the aggressive type of woman who would put her foot down on this best-friend scenario. She is easy-going, cherishes peace, and hates disagreement, especially with her husband who tells her occasionally that he loves her. Susie does not think that she is doing anything wrong, but in fact, she is ignoring that important principle called respect.
Look at four different levels of respect that Susie violates.
1. Respect for Marriage
Marriage is the framework within which, the couple develops spiritual, physical and emotional intimacy. Susie’s best friend is obligated to work with his wife toward the highest level of intimacy as much as they are capable.
If Susie genuinely cares for her friend, she would also care that he develops a happy, solid marriage. She can facilitate that by preventing the man from leaning on her for the emotional comfort which he should receive from his wife. It is appropriate for her to say, “That’s a matter for you and your wife.”
She might have the opportunity to teach him (if he didn’t know before) that in our culture, marriage is between two people, not three.
2. Respect for the Wife
Susie doesn’t know how many times the wife has been disappointed or deprived because of her husband’s meetings with his best friend, or because of phone calls, or text messages which come at inappropriate times.
Susie doesn’t know and she doesn’t care that the wife has been forced to lower her expectations concerning her husband's attention. Neither does she know that her friend accuses his wife of being jealous whenever she asks for reassurance that he still loves her.
Susie cannot take full blame for the stress developing in the woman’s life, but she certainly provides support for the husband who is causing it.
Cheating is not limited to sexual interaction. Time spent satisfying the emotional needs of another woman, is cheating the wife of time to satisfy her emotional needs. It is selfish and disrespectful for Susie to treat another woman with such disregard.
3. Respect for Herself
With Susie showing so much disrespect to her friend's wife, what personal disadvantages does she suffer? She may not think so, but she disrespects herself by voluntarily playing second fiddle in the kind of relationship where it is forbidden. She's is proving that she does not measure up to what her friend wants in a wife.
Moreover, if she releases herself from the undesirable, uncomplimentary role of support for someone else’s marriage, she frees herself to become someone's wife. Bet she could achieve more fulfilling intimacy with someone who values her enough not only to call her his best friend, but to make her his wife. That would be an upgrade on her self-respect.
4. Respect for Womanhood
A woman judges other women by the woman she knows best—herself. Susie assumes that she does a better job than the wife of satisfying the man emotionally.
- Is she admitting by her behavior that she needs help from another woman to satisfy a man?
- Is she preparing to have female friends fill some of the needs of her future husband should she get married?
- Why does not the single woman think first of the married woman (every woman's a sister) before concentrating on making her husband happy?
Women Need Support From One Another
In a UCLA study on female friendships, researchers found that the hormone oxytocin encourages women to gather and bond together rather than adopt the usual fight or flight response to stress in our every day lives. It should be easier for women to bond than create stress for each other. Not only does the hormone help us enjoy each other’s company; it reduces our risk of disease.
We can enrich our own lives by loving and supporting our sisters: teaching them, showing concern for them, scolding them if necessary, but never by substituting for them. Each has her place.
A woman’s place is never within another woman’s marriage.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
Questions & Answers
Question: My husband is a people pleaser and does not know how to set boundaries, which leads to disrespect in our marriage. I am at my wit's end about it. We have been married 32 years and this has been a challenge in our marriage. I'm beginning to question if he truly wants to be in this marriage. What can I do?
Answer: I admire your patience. Chances are there were some positive aspects of the marriage that kept you loyal all this time. You've also been investing yourself in the relationship for these many years. There's much to hold onto.
Make sure that your husband knows that: (1) you want the marriage; (2) you have decided not to tolerate his disrespect any longer; (3) you are longing for him to make your marriage his priority relationship; (4) you are willing to cooperate with him in making adjustments which will satisfy both of you; and (5) what you really want is for both of you to be happy together. If you know a professional whom you both trust and respect, you might want to consult with him or her.
Meanwhile, please read my article entitled "Consider These Before You End the Marriage" and continue to be loving and kind as you work with him to make adjustments in his undesirable behavior. If you are a believer, don't neglect prayer.
Question: How do you ‘teach’ a single young woman to quit flirting with a married man that was her high school teacher? She is now 20 years old.
Answer: Your quote-unquote 'teach' suggests that you would rather use another word. I'm slightly amused as I wonder what word you would choose as an alternative.
Flirting usually signals sexual attraction. If we can convince the young woman that her behavior is inappropriate (since the man is married), a waste of time (since she can use her time and effort in attracting someone who is available), and self-destructive (since she is demonstrating poor choice and lack of self-control), we may succeed in getting her to focus on what is best for her now and in the future. Besides there is the Golden Rule: respecting the man's marriage the way she would want another woman to respect hers if she ever becomes a wife.
Tell her to save her charm until she finds a man who brings out her value not her viciousness; to whom she can become a priority, not just another option. It's all about what she thinks she deserves.
© 2011 Dora Weithers