Balancing Act: Marriage and Friendships

By February 22, 2017 February 22nd, 2018 Communication, Self Reflection, Time

Friendship is a great blessing. Can you imagine going through life without friends? (We sure can’t!) Our friendships make up some of the closest relationships in our lives, and that doesn’t stop when we get married.

But when we go through a huge change in life, like beginning a dating relationship or getting married, it shifts the landscape of our relationships. Even though these changes occur, it’s important to find a new balance together, because maintaining our close relationships is important. So how do we do that?

Focus on Your Marriage First

When you get married, it can be difficult for your friends (especially if you’re the first one in your circle to tie the knot) to accept the inevitable changes in your relationships with them. They don’t want to “give you up,” in a sense, for you to embark on something new. But it’s impossible to keep pouring the same amount of time and effort into your friendships as before, while cultivating intimacy with your new spouse.

It’s important for you and your spouse to understand that you’re both going to have to make some adjustments to the amount of time you invest in your friendships. You’re starting a new life together, and you need this time. Be empathic toward one another, and work together to make sure you’re meeting one another’s needs, as well as honoring one another’s need for your other friendships.

It’s also important to show empathy toward you friends, who may not understand your need to pour more time into your marriage. If you need to, you can explain that there have been some changes in your life, and right now you need to honor those changes as you start this new chapter.

Remember, your single friends will probably start getting married soon, and at that point, they’ll have a better understanding of where you are right now. In the meantime, you’re the pioneer, so start setting some great patterns in motion. Your friends will see your example of dedication to your marriage, and that will give them a strong model to follow when they get married, themselves.

Create Shared Friendships

One of the greatest joys of a healthy, happy couple is having a shared circle of social connections. Shared friendships enrich your life, but it’s tricky to create a social circle within your marriage that works for both of you (and for those you bring into the circle).

When you gather friends together, something magical happens. You and your spouse get to know the deeper layers of each other in the process, particularly if you have a shared past with some of these friends. Enjoying friends together will deepen and enrich your relationship.

It’s easy to find a single friend we’d like to spend time with, but when it comes to forging friendships with other couples–and creating a relaxed, comfortable dynamic–it takes work, and it’s not as easy to pull off. All four of you need that natural chemistry, and that can be a challenge to find.

But when you and your spouse do “click” with another couple, it’s so rewarding. Not only are you friends with each of them; the mentoring that occurs when you watch another marriage play out in front of you is a huge bonus. When it comes to friends like this, the whole really is greater than each individual.

Maintain Individual Friendships

While we’re big proponents of shared friendships (especially with other couples), this doesn’t mean you can’t also have individual friends. Our lives are enriched by keeping connections with friends from the past, work colleagues, classmates, and others. Communicate openly with one another about these friends, and allow one another the space you need to continue cultivating these individual friendships.

Sometimes we have a sense of responsibility and ownership for friends who have been loyal to us over the years (especially the single years!). It’s important to try to pull those friends into your shared life, but there are times when some of the friends you choose might not be your spouse’s favorite choices, and vice versa.

If your spouse has a friend he or she wants to maintain a connection with, open your arms a little wider to this person. Honor your spouse’s shared history with them, and allow your social horizon to expand. Your spouse is loyal to their friend, and it’s important to show grace and to respect your spouse’s desire to keep this friend in your lives.

Over time, you may find that the friends who aren’t in the center of your shared social circle draw closer to you as a couple. Relationships shift and evolve over time, and you may find that a friend of your spouse’s–who might not have been your top pick at first–turns out to be one of your most loyal friendships.

How do you and your spouse work together to balance marriage and friendships? We’d love to hear from you in the comments section!

6 Comments

  • David May says:

    Thriving marriages as well as hurting marriages need outside friendships, but for very different reasons. In times of marital trial, close friends listen, empathize, counsel, admonish. They love unconditionally and are a “safe place” where we can hurt out loud. In thriving marriages, close friends, especially those that are transparent and vulnerable, bring laughter, light-heartedness, and a vivid reminder that struggle is universal and that we are all in this together!

  • Aj says:

    In these times with social media and people giving themselves their worth by how many friends they have and who follows them, how do u decifer whos a friend if facebook list u have 600plus friends and about 100 friends request are you dealing with more marriages failing due to this madness???

  • I agree totally, that the adjustment period can be a chalegne, but find that most friendships’s make the transition pretty easily,. The key is to acknowledge the pain, and make it an place to offer love and support to your friends.
    I find the second recommendation much tougher, especially when small children are in the picture. I see couples, both working long hours, not making time for couple friends without children. It is because they are gone so much during the week, guilt sets in, that they do not take time for themselves with individual friends or couple friends without children. I wish I could wave a magic wand and tell them that the children are only as healthy and happy as marriage is, and individuals in marriage are, and make it a priority to cultivate these relationships, it will make a difference down the road for them both.

  • KB says:

    I agree that friendships are important. However, I believe it is equally important to have appropriate friends with which to talk and share with. As in friends of the appropriate sex. A married man, who was “a player” and mainly has women “friends”, and not the best sort of women, needs to let them go for the sake of the marriage, and not bemoan the fact that your wife cost you most of your friends. Each person in the marriage needs to have friends of the same sex with whom to ask advice or talk seriously with. It is not appropriate to share really personal things with opposite sex friends, especially someone you just met.

  • Markin W says:

    My wife has always been more “discerning” , less agreeable and more introverted than I – having a much smaller circle of friends and acquaintances – it has been perhaps our greatest division – and, given all the possible issues in a marriage, a small one.

    I have noticed over our eight years of marriage that while I have become friends with most of her “before -us” friends, several of my friends have all but disappeared from the picture because they don’t fit into the “happy foursome” described in the article above. My friends were generally accepting of my wife – things have died out mostly at my wife’s druthers.

    Anyone navigate through this better?

Leave a Reply