Opposite sex friendships in marriage

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Is it appropriate to have a friendship with someone of the opposite sex if you’re married? If so, what boundaries should be in place to prevent infidelity?

Dr. Greg and Erin Smalley say that we should absolutely have boundaries in marriage when it comes to friendships with the opposite sex.

On a base level, Erin reminds us that we must keep our priorities straight in marriage, first and foremost.

“The message that you want to send to your spouse in your marriage is that you matter and that you’re important and that I’m not willing to sacrifice my marriage for anything.”

Dr. Greg says that if we think we have to cut out all interaction with the opposite sex then we’re missing the point. Interaction with the opposite sex is not wrong, but it has to be in the right context.

“Again, we’re not saying to cut off all contact with the opposite sex, that’s not reality and we’re not encouraging that.”

“One of the things that Erin and I get to do that I’ve loved so much is we get to build shared social networks, because we have a lot of couple friends. When Erin has her friends over, that’s an opportunity for me to relate appropriately to the opposite sex, to be blessed by Erin’s friends.”

Greg says it’s important to differentiate between having a friend of the opposite sex and having a close relationship where you are playful and share intimate details about life.

“That’s what we’re saying you should never have. There is no reason that a married man should ever have that kind of relationship, you could never convince me.”

It’s important that whatever interaction does take place, happens in the open with no secrecy.

“I have plenty of female friends at work and Erin’s friends, but it’s all open. Erin has blessed these, there’s nothing we can’t talk about. If I’m simply bantering with one of my employees I will always do that in a group text and include my wife. We can all have fun because it’s appropriate and in a group.”


Dr. Greg Smalley serves as executive director of Marriage and Family Formation at Focus on the Family.  In this role, he develops and oversees initiatives that prepare individuals for marriage, strengthen and nurture existing marriages and help couples in marital crises. He also serves as a media spokesperson on these matters.

Erin Smalley earned a bachelor degree in nursing at Grand Canyon University in Phoenix, Arizona. Erin enjoys speaking at women’s conferences, encouraging women to live in Christ’s freedom.

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Opposite sex friendship in marriage


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