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Yes. Married Folks Need Single Friends (Male And Female).

Who said (married) men and women can't be friends (with single men and women)?

Marriage

Some of y'all probably remember the movie The Wedding Planner (Jennifer Lopez, Matthew McConaughey). Whenever I reflect back on it (which I actually do more than I would like to due to being a marriage life coach), something that immediately comes to mind is a "rule" that Jennifer Lopez's character had when it came to engaged couples. She could tell, based on the first dance song they shared together, just how long their marriage was gonna last.

Well, over the years, I have come up with some other dead ringers that two people's marriage is headed towards some pretty bumping waters if they don't switch up their thinking a bit—thinking that sex shouldn't be a priority; believing that a difference in religions isn't "that big of a deal"; thinking that sucking at money management (whether it's one person or both) isn't gonna cause a ton of problems up the road; feeling like they don't "marry someone's family" (you don't but you do have to deal with them a lot and/or the after-effects of your spouse's family's influence on them); not discussing gender role expectations (whether you have some or none at all); overlooking triggers that already kinda piss you off about the one you're seeing (marriage only magnifies what already exists), and thinking that marriage means that you shouldn't have single and/or opposite sex friends.

Each one of these deserve a hearty "what in the world are you thinking?!" article; however, you can tell from the title of this piece what we'll be exploring today. As someone whose friend pool consists of mostly married people at this point, there are a few reasons why I believe it is very important for married folks to have single friends—yes, male as well as female ones, for husbands as well as wives.

Single Friends Offer a Different Perspective

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Relational status-wise, "single" means you're not married (even tax forms cosign on this). I don't know what makes so many people think it also means that we as singles don't have any kind of insight, experience or common sense when it comes to matters of the heart. Good lord. And here's the thing—I often tell my clients that sometimes it's a good idea to have a single counselor/therapist/life coach and to see a married couple from time to time. The reason why is because it is very difficult for married folks to counsel without bringing their own marriage into the mix and the reality is each marriage is different—meaning, what works for one couple may absolutely not work for another. Not only that but based on how a married person feels about their relationship or spouse at the time that you seek them out, their advice could be great or really jaded.

Singles on the other hand—it's like there is oftentimes a very "detached approach" in the sense that we oftentimes just see whatever a husband or wife is talking about for what it is. Because of that, our perspective isn't so emotionally driven and that can actually be helpful at times.

Single people read books. Singles check out podcasts. Singles have (usually) had relationships before. Singles pray and meditate. Singles want to see the people they care about win. (Many) singles have great knowledge and common sense. Know what else? A lot of singles are single by choice, so them not being married shouldn't be seen as a disqualifier so much as a personal preference—one that is oftentimes based in profound wisdom.

Having single friends when you're married can help you to look at things from an "outside looking in" angle that you might not get any other way. That's just one reason to consider having them as friends, even if you are in a marital union.

Single Friends Can Give You the Opportunity to Do Certain Things That You Enjoy

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When you're married, it's a part of who you are—a big part even. Know what? It's still not your entire identity, though. I can't tell you how many people that I have to remind that no one is—or should be—their everything. Believing that your spouse should be exactly that is not only a low-key form of idolatry, it will set you up to be quite disappointed, many times over. Because, again, no one is supposed to check every box and fill every void. This is another reason why having single friends can be a cool thing because the things that your spouse may not be interested or like to do, you can do those things with your single friends—and spending time with those friends can make you value your marriage all the more once you return home.

Now, what I will say on this particular point is hanging out with an opposite sex friend and no one else could get a little dicey simply because intimate time is well…intimate time. Yet even in this case, a good opposite sex friend is totally on the up and up and therefore, will have no problem spending time with you, even if it's at your house with your spouse present. Maybe it's to see a movie that your husband couldn't care less about or to have dinner with the both of you that features a dish that only they would appreciate. Bottom line, single friends can keep you from resenting your spouse if there are things that you like that they don't because you've got those friends to share those experiences with. It can actually take some pressure off of your hubby. That's always beneficial.

Single Friends Can Be a Great Support System

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I have close married male and female friends. Their spouse knows I exist and most of them even have my phone number (the ones who don't, don't want it). The reason why is because I get the "two are now one" (which is biblical, by the way—Genesis 2:24-25) concept. Besides, if I am a good friend to my folks, this means that I want all that personally affects them to thrive—their marriage included. And you know what? I can't think of one friend whose spouse has an issue with my being friends with their partner. Now, I will say that a big part of this is because the spouse has met me and even had a few conversations with me before. Also, when it comes to my male married friends, none of them are someone I've had any kind of romantic or sexual history with (that kind of dynamic is another article for another time). And perhaps being a marriage life coach helps. Yet you know what I believe the biggest part is? My married friends and their spouse know that I am a huge fan of marriage and I make it clear that being friends with married folks means that I am an advocate for their relationship.

A couple of years ago, I wrote an article for the platform entitled, "Why Every Engaged Couple Needs A 'Marriage Registry'". When you get a chance, check it out because it touches on different ways that different people can support a marital relationship in some very specific ways. Any couple who's been married for more than a couple of years knows that it doesn't just take a village to raise a child, it oftentimes takes a village to support a marriage too. Healthy, happy and mature single people can be supportive in some pretty extraordinary ways from being a listening ear and prayer partner to helping to plan a special occasion with your partner or being willing to watch your kids. Every marriage needs support. Single folks can offer help and encouragement. Try it. It might just blow your mind how good we are at it.

Single Friends (Typically) Have More Availability

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I don't go to a ton of weddings. The long short of the reason is because I think wedding ceremonies are very sacred events and, like many officiants say, "It's a union that should be entered into soberly and not lightly." To me, it's a celebration, for sure. At the same time, it's not just a party or merely something to do on any given weekend. That said, the few I have gone to when a close friend is jumping the broom, I often get laughed at. It's because I'm sometimes crying more than just about everyone else. Why? I'll be real—I'm happy for my peeps yet I'm grieving as well because I know that the friendship is about to change. My newly married friend won't have the same kind of time they once did. They can't just "link up" whenever they want to because they've got other priorities. In short, their availability is gonna be quite different, moving forward.

Me? Not so much. Yes, I have a life—a full one, thank you very much; still, my friends can call me at 2 a.m. to vent or cry and it's typically a lot easier for me to drop everything and come their way, if need be. I can't tell you how many "talk me off the ledge" midnight hour chats I've had with some of my married friends when their spouse was out of town or how often I've rerouted on the way to one place to head someplace else when a married friend needed an ear or shoulder.

Married friends only having married friends means that sometimes, they have to figure things out without anyone being able to truly have their back because their married friends are unavailable. Single friends can oftentimes stand in the gap in a way that makes them a real lifesaver.

You Can Share Your Wisdom/Insight with Your Single Friends

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Whatever stage we are in life, hopefully, we are open to sharing what we've learned in order to help others. So, this next point about why married folks and single people should be friends is actually a reason that benefits the single demographic. About five years ago, I asked one of my closest friends to record a video on why she felt that single women should enjoy their single season (check out "Rissi Palmer- A married lady's words to single sisters" when you get a chance). She was able to offer up some "Girrrrl, GIRL" points that you can quite possibly intellectualize before saying "I do" yet feels totally different once you actually are somebody's wife.

In many ways, I see singles being friends with marriage folks as a form of tremendous relational support for husbands and wives and married folks being friends with single people being a form of uncanny knowledge for the unmarried. You know, far too many single women think that being married is better than the season they are currently in. Hmph. Talk to some of your married friends before jumping to such large conclusions. Everything comes with its pros and cons. Being married is definitely no exception.

BONUS: If Your Single Friend Can’t Be Trusted in Marriage, They Should’ve Never Been Trusted

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I'm gonna end this on a point that has never made sense to me. Sometimes, when a married person will challenge me on why there is no need for them to have single friends—especially ones of the opposite sex—my immediate response is "Why?" If they even hint to the fact that they don't trust that kind of dynamic, almost always my response is, "So, if you don't trust someone, why were you friends with them in the first place?"

Listen, while it is important to safeguard your relationship and create mutual boundaries in order to make that possible, if you've got a partner that wants to cheat, they will find a way to do it. Besides, "friend" is not a word that should be used casually. If you trusted someone enough to be in your wedding or even come to see you publicly profess your love, if you trust someone enough to watch your children, if you trust someone enough to hold some of your confidentialities—how can you not trust that they will remain trustworthy now that you've got a spouse?

Yeah, the issue shouldn't be whether or not singles can be friends with married folks—it's if you are choosing the right friends, regardless of their relational status to begin with.

As I shared earlier, when people get married, things change. To a certain extent, dynamics of their friendships, whether their friends are single or married, is included. What I hope is this all will buck the notion that single friendships are an automatic no-no. A good friend is good friend. Single or not. Period.

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ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.

Reparations

We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
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