*Dear Tamara:

My husband has a close relationship with a female friend whom he communicates with often. They talk on the phone, text each other and communicate quite a bit on Facebook. I am growing more and more uncomfortable with their close friendship. My husband has assured me that they are just friends and that I don’t have anything to worry about. I have tried to be open minded about their relationship, but it really bothers me. I do not understand why they have to communicate so much. Should I insist that he cut off this friendship?His No.1 Friend

Dear: No. 1 Friend

Believe it or not, men and women can be “just friends.”Healthy platonic friendships do exist. That being said, I am a firm believer that there is a “right” way to be friends with someone who is married or in a committed relationship.

As the spouse who has a friend of the opposite sex, it is your primary responsibility to protect and uphold your marriage relationship. The marriage relationship should trump any friendship that you may have. You know your spouse and their tolerance level. You should take the necessary steps to make your spouse feel comfortable. Be mindful of how often you communicate with your friend and how that may look to your husband or wife. You don’t want to create an atmosphere of jealousy and suspicion. Nor do you want your spouse to feel as if you have a closer relationship with someone else. Your friendship should also be public! Don’t close the door or leave the room to have a “private” conversation. Let your spouse know that you are open and honest about your friendships and comfortable including them.

As the friend of a married or committed person, I think it is your responsibility to have consideration and respect for the friend’s spouse. Be mindful of when and how often you communicate with that friend. You should want to avoid putting that person in a position to have to defend or explain your friendship. You should also try to forge a relationship with your friend’s spouse. If you call the house, hold a conversation with them as well. Include their spouse in your relationship. This will help them be more at ease and allow them the opportunity to know you as a friend as well.

As the spouse, you too should try to develop relationships with your spouse’s friends. Get to know them and understand the dynamics of their friendships. If in fact you are uncomfortable with a relationship, you have to be open and honest about your feelings. Don’t pretend to be comfortable with something or someone when you are not. That is a recipe for disaster. Be honest. Also, you have to be careful trying to dictate your spouse’s relationships and giving ultimatums. I think it is unfair to ask someone to sever a relationship, especially if there have been no trust issues in the relationship. Your spouse might become resentful of you for forcing his or her hand. I think we all have the right to choose our own friendships.

One of my best childhood friends is a male. We grew up together and have shared many life experiences. Our relationship has always been strictly platonic, but now that we are both married, thy dynamics of our relationship has changed. We no longer talk on the phone into the wee hours of the morning. We are no longer each other’s sole confidants. We include our spouses in our relationship. So much so, he was an usher in my wedding party. I would rather make the necessary adjustments to my friendship rather than be forced to sever it completely.

Author of the upcoming book Been There Done That: And Lived to Tell About It (due out Spring 2011), Tamara R. Allen is Your Advice Guru giving REAL advice from REAL experience. Email your questions to [email protected]. You can follow Tamara on twitter @tamararallen or check out her daily column and archives at www.tamararallen.com.