When is Friendship Wrong?
For married couples to know when one has gotten too close to a member of the opposite sex
by Joe Beam

Do you ever feel that you may be getting too close to someone other than your spouse? Are you worried that your spouse is getting too close to someone other than you? Either way, you can know by the end of this article.

After working with thousands of marriages, I developed the Relationship CAGE questionnaire that indicates whether one has become too close to a person other than his or her spouse. . It's a variation of the often used CAGE questionnaire.

The questionnaire is simple. In the blank, place the name of the person other than your spouse with whom you have a relationship.

1. Have you ever felt you should Cut back on the amount of time you spend with, or the things you talk about with, or the relationship that you are developing with _____________?
2. Have you ever felt Annoyed by what anyone has said about the amount of time you spend with, or the things you talk about with, or the level of friendship you have with ___________?
3. Have you ever felt bad or Guilty about the amount of time you spend with, the things you talk about with, or the things you do with _____________?
4. Has ____________ ever been your Elevator that you talk with or spend time with either to make you feel better when you are depressed, sad, lonely, or stressed, or to share your joy with when you are happy, excited, or enthused?

In the original CAGE, two or more "yes" answers meant that the person had a 75 percent likelihood of having crossed the line with a substance such as alcohol. A decade of experience leads me to believe that the same applies to friendships. Two "yes" answers indicate a 75% likelihood that the relationship has crossed proper boundaries.

Think about it this way. Suppose a married woman, Sally, is friends with John. What advice would you give Sally if she worried that she should cut back on the time she spends with John? What if she wondered whether she should be so open in her conversations with John? Wouldn't you tell her that either of those two things should make her very careful in that friendship? The same would be true if she feels annoyed by what others say about her friendship with John, or if she feels even the slightest degree of guilt about that friendship. Wouldn't you worry if she reached the point where John became her emotional elevator she seeks out either to bring her up when she is down, or to share her joy with when she is up? Any one of those things-feeling she should cut back, feeling annoyed, feeling guilt, or feeling a need to talk with John when emotions abound-would be enough for you, her friend, to know that her friendship with John isn't just a friendship any longer.. Years of experience teach me that if any two of those exist, the chances are at least three out of four that the relationship is already improper. It's no longer just a possibility that it will harm her marriage. It already happened. She has boarded a train with one destination, and it isn't a good one.
Are you willing to answer the questions while thinking of the person your spouse worries about? If you answer yes to two or more questions, you must face the extremely strong possibility that you have crossed the boundaries and that this person is a barrier to true love with your spouse. You must end the relationship. It's the right thing to do.

If you are worried that your mate has crossed boundaries, complete the questionnaire differently. You may not be able to answer questions one and three for your spouse. However, from observation-or input from those around your mate-you likely can answer questions two and four. If what you say about the friendship annoys your mate, or if he or she contacts the other person when emotional, you already have two "yes" answers. You have a 75% chance of being right about your spouse already having crossed boundaries. Immediately seek counsel from your minister or another professional as to what to do next. If you find, without a doubt, that your spouse is involved improperly, go to www.familydynamics.net and download the article named Intervention for a step-by-step instructions on how to save your marriage.

© Joe Beam. All rights reserved.
Host of Give and Take: When True Love Meets Real Life

For information about the CAGE questionnaire, see http://www.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/cage.htm.
According to web site of The 24th Judicial District Court, 6515 Roosevelt, Allen Park MI 48101-2524. See www.24thdiscourt.org/newpage12.htm.

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