How much of our childhood and early adult life do we spend dreaming about getting married? We spend a lot of time talking about how to find Mr. Right, but what no one talks about is how your friendships tend to change after marriage.
Each phase of life comes with changes. When you start college, you might move away from home, get a roommate, and have a heavy workload. Starting a new job means a new daily routine, new people, and possibly a different commute to work. A new relationship means adjusting your life to include your new boyfriend. Usually, we think about these things before they happen, but what I didn’t realize going into marriage is that my friendships were going to be a little different as well. It’s not a negative thing, it's just something I didn’t expect.
The Dating Phase
Even when I started dating my husband, I noticed that I was prioritizing my time in a new way. Before being with him, I was either with family, friends, or alone. One of the biggest blessings of singleness is that you can say yes more often to things. When friends want to get together at the last minute, it’s easy to join in since you have no one to consider besides yourself. But once you get in a relationship, it’s important to check in with your boyfriend or husband and make sure your plans work for them. And to make sure that the people you’re spending time with are appropriate, which is especially true once you’re married.
When I got into a relationship, my focus quickly shifted to my boyfriend. I wanted to be with him all the time because I was getting to know him and enjoyed his company. It’s easy to put friends on the back burner in a fresh relationship, but it’s still important to spend time with good friends. Maybe you’ll spend less time going out with acquaintances, and more time with the people who really matter to you. Either way, don’t forget about your friends!
Adjusting to Married Life
Trying to get used to being married wasn’t difficult; it was a good change. Nonetheless, it was still a change, and getting together with friends felt different. Your husband becomes your best friend (if he wasn’t already), so sometimes it feels like we don’t need to hang out with too many other people. But don’t let your life become so small that you lose all your other friendships. Having a community of people you can go to in the good and the bad times is important, especially having another woman whom you can confide in. Women and men have differences, and even though your husband might know you better than anyone else, your girl best friend can be there for you in a different way than your husband can. Sometimes, you just need another female perspective.
What About My Guy Friends?
Can guys and girls be just friends? This is a controversial topic, but it’s important to consider when you’re married. I had mostly male friends before I started dating my husband, so this one was hard for me at first. The guy friends I had were like brothers to me. I didn’t feel romantically attracted to them, but I loved hanging out with them because it was a drama-free experience compared to spending time with girls. But once I got into a relationship, I would never allow myself to spend time alone with them.
The way that I determine whether or not something is appropriate for me as a married woman is to imagine how I would feel if my husband did the same thing. Want to go grab coffee with your guy friend? Cool, just make sure you don’t get upset when your husband grabs dinner with his female friend. Spending time alone with another guy will just draw you further away from your husband and put you in a situation that could possibly lead to negative outcomes. Even if you aren’t attracted to the guy, what if he secretly has a little crush on you? What message are you sending him by agreeing to be alone with him?
Having Single Friends in Marriage
I think the longer you’re married, the more married friends you get. Maybe this is because it’s easier to hang out with couples when you’re part of a couple, or maybe it’s because you’re getting older and everyone around you starts getting married. But I don't think there’s anything wrong with keeping your single girlfriends close. You don’t want to drop meaningful friendships just because they’re in a different season of life than you. It’s good to spend time with people who value you and can be there for you in tough times.
In each new season of life, you will face new challenges and have to make changes, but you can still do that and make time for people who have always been there for you. My sister and my cousin who I grew up with are my best friends. We spend a lot of time together. They aren’t married yet, but they’re my lifelong friends, and I want them to be a part of every new thing in my life. They were there when I was single, there for my breakups, and they were next to me at my wedding. They make each of these new experiences easier for me because I have them to lean on and to celebrate with.
Married Friends Are Important Too
Along with those friends who are lifers, it’s beneficial to make friends who are married women. Marriage can take work sometimes, and it’s good to have the insight and advice of someone else who is in the same phase of life or even a few years ahead of you. It’s also nice to make friends with women who are married because they’re probably prioritizing their time in a similar way to you. And hopefully, you can double date with them!
Marriage relationships are not the same as dating, because the dating relationship might opt out when things don’t seem right, but once you’re married, the goal is to stick things out no matter what. Having another woman who’s been there when things get challenging is good because she can understand some of the same struggles. The hope is that your marriage stays happy and strong, but there will always be hard times in life. The advice of a single person might look different than someone who has been through the same thing as you in their marriage and came out stronger in the end.
Having friends there to support you, celebrate with you, and cry with you is going to make your life better. Don't give up on your friendships just because you’re in a relationship. Your priorities will look different, but it’s still possible to keep valued friendships. Single or married, both types of friends can be an asset to you. Some friends are meant for life, while others might just be for a season. Either way, having that strong community will help you grow into a better person.
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