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How Much Relationship Advice Should A Husband Give?

Discussion in 'Marriage and Relationships' started by spunkycat08, Nov 6, 2013.

  1. This thread is about one of my husband's female friends. All 3 of us are in our late thirties/early fourties.

    My husband was told by him mom when he was younger that he was a good listener. He became a Christian in 1991. He feels that his calling is to help others, male and female, with their problems. One person whom he helped a couple of months ago was a friend he met through one of his ex girlfriends several years ago. He met her at the church his ex went to. From what he told me the only contact he had with her was either by phone or through facebook. At the moment it is facebook. All three of us live in the same city in Texas, but she lives about an hour away from us.

    About 2 months ago she called our home phone number and left a message asking him to call her. She sounded frustrated. He called her, but he got her voice mail. He was finally able to reach her, and when he did, she let him know that she and her fiance, whom she met in Wisconsin while on vacation over a year ago, broke up. The conversation was short because he was at work at the time. Then she called him at our home number again while both of us were at home. Both of us were in the same area when she called. He let her know that he was married, and then she continued to talk about the breakup of her relationship with her fiance. My husband does not know if her relationship was long distance or if her boyfriend moved to the same city she lives in before proposing to her. He gave her some encouraging words. After the phone call ended, he let me know that she told him that she was happy about his recent marriage to me and that she would not do anything to cause problems in our marriage.

    The following evening she called again, but since my husband was busy, he chose not to answer the phone. We have caller id and an answering machine. He recognized her phone number. She did not leave a message. Over the course of about 3 weeks, she continued to call and not leave messages. She called about 6 times after the first time she called and did not leave a message. She did stop calling at one point.

    My questions are....

    How much relationship advice should a husband give to a single female friend?
    To what extent should a husband give relationship advice to a single female friend?
    When should the wife step in if needed?
  2. Wow! Great questions! Though i do not have the answers to them, i look forward to reading what others say.
  3. The answer to your questions is simply moderation and never councilling alone if opposite sex.

    It is great that he is a good listener, but he is not a qualified councillor. A vulnerable woman, receiving excessive councilling at a spiritual level by a solo well meaning married man = disaster.

    At my church, 'personal / extensive' councilling is done by same sex or with others always present.

    The problem lies in the fact that she is getting spiritual councilling from him. Christianity touches the depth of our heart. The spiritual depths sunk to create an abnormal attraction for oppposite sexes when alone.

    The good news is that your husband has been councilling on the phone. However these calls after her divorce are now excessive. He needs to stop and she needs proper councilling.

    Good luck, praying for you!
    .:Shine:. likes this.
  4. #4 Roads, Nov 7, 2013
    Last edited: Nov 7, 2013
    I can't say I can tell you a definite answer to those exact questions, but here are some things to consider.

    I think when you say "A vulnerable woman, receiving excessive counseling at a spiritual level by a solo well meaning married man = disaster," you are being practical with your concerns. Even if everyone is "well-meaning," we still need healthy boundaries to protect our relationships. Even if we remove the "at a spiritual level" part, there are certain ethical standards to any counseling practice. If he is going to pursue a "calling to help others" through counseling, at the very least, he should talk to a practicing counselor to understand what sort of boundaries he should set up with the people he is helping. Secondly, whatever boundaries he puts in place should be boundaries that you are also comfortable with, so you should be discussing together what those boundaries should be. Since he's a really good listener, he should have no problem hearing your concerns on this matter, which I think are perfectly reasonable. Recognizing the need for healthy boundaries is not admitting an intention for wrongdoing, it simply reflects a reasonable need to protect what is valuable to us. The people we love need to feel safe.

    My wife is a practicing social worker. In her job, she counsels women only, but outside of work, I think people can just tell she's an empathetic person, and lots of people approach her with their problems. If a male wants to talk to her about something that looks like it's going to be a continuous problem, she gets uncomfortable with that really quickly, and she'll refer them to me, by saying something like, "Oh my husband knows about that, maybe you guys can go out for coffee sometime" or something like that, and that is perfectly fine with me. So in response to your question "When should the wife step in if needed," is there any reason why the wife can't be included from the start? If he's just giving a one-off piece of advice to a friend, I don't think there's a lot of risk in that, but if he's helping to coach someone through a breakup... maybe his "calling to help people" is a ministry that you can do together, if that's the sort of thing you are willing to do.

    But even if you are, I agree with King J's advice that if this woman feels like she needs coaching through a break up, the ideal situation is that she would be getting help from a local, experienced Christian counselor that she can actually sit with. Trained counselors do not "give advice," they have various strategies to help people organize and understand their feelings, to help them think reasonably about their situation and make informed choices for themselves. Just having a go at counseling has a lot of potential to cause damage in a lot of ways.
  5. As a husband who always seems to be the one people come to for a listening ear (a calling to that end, as well), here's my $0.02.

    Moderation is the key when dealing with someone of the opposite sex. Clear boundaries must also be established. For a long time it seemed like 90% of the people I was talking to and trying to help were female friends that I worked with. However, the talking was done at work before or after a shift, or on break, or something like that. They never...I want to say that again...never called or contacted me in any way while I was at home.

    Why? Because that is my family's time, and more importantly my wife's time. No one else's.

    My wife was also made aware of everything that was talked about (which it seems your husband is doing).

    However, if these boundaries cannot be set and followed (which it seems they're not - your husband apparently hasn't set them and she obviously is intruding on your home time), then these conversations really need to be nonexistent.

    Here's why.

    When we begin airing our personal issues to a friend, there can be a tendency to latch on to them. This can very quickly escalate to a caring friend lending an ear, to an emotionally vulnerable person giving that friend their heart - whether they want it or not.

    My point being that regardless of your husband's intentions, this can quickly turn into a case of this woman becoming infatuated with him, and I don't have to tell you the problems that can cause.

    Based on what you have said, I would advise you to speak with your husband and ask him to stop communicating with this woman altogether.

    I believe he has good intentions, but last time I checked there was a road to Heaven that' s paved with good intentions.
  6. I get your concern!

    Your husband seems to have his heart in the right place, and seems to be taking his distance by not answering the phone. She seems to be going too far. I'd advise you to speak to him too, and voice your concerns in a warm and friendly manner. If she falls for him, this may become a real problem. (Likely he'd find it a problem too!).
    You could -perhaps in the future- offer to talk to her instead if you notice she's putting a large claim on him. This is to protect everyone involved. And, of course, pray.

    How much is too much? It all really depends on the situation and the individuals. Some people are more capable to maintain friendships with the other sex without it becoming about romantic interest. (Or plain lust, in some cases). This can be hard to gauge. (I've had several men trying to 'hang out' with me with wrong interests, to whom it never occurred that I actually do 'hang out' with the guys sometimes!) It can be hard to maintain these boundaries if you're a caring person, but it's necessary to learn to do this.
    I have had male friends ever since I started having friends, and in the times when I had no male friends I missed it. Likewise, I could not do without my female friends. I give -and receive- advice about all kinds of things from the guys, and it's different than from the girls. Hearing the other sex perspective on relationship issues is very valuable. But, there are some things that should only be discussed with the same sex, because there are differences between male and female! And there are some borders that should never ever be crossed. Always honour the spouse. If inappropriate feelings pop up, always back off in these situations.

    I seem to be the one people like to confide in, men and women. As a doctor, this can be very useful in helping them. Even as a medical student I've had people confide in me when the med student wouldn't be the one you'd confide in. Sometimes this leads to the wrong conversation in the wrong place. There's a difference between honestly feeling safe to confide in someone and doing it with somewhat less clear motives: I have had occasions where (mainly psychiatric) patients said things just to try and shock me, and I have had male patients doing as I suggest simply because of the way I look. (And female patients refusing and being rude for exactly the same reason).
    .:Shine:. likes this.
  7. I would like to thank everyone for their replies.

    I showed my husband this link as well as the replies.

    Both of us prayed to God about opposite sex friendships as well as his helping opposite sex friends with their problems.

    Two things I do not like are any opposite sex friend's lack of appropriate behavior around any spouse as well as no boundaries. This goes for both spouses in the marriage.

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