A colleague Julie and I were discussing how we spend our spare time the other day, and in the midst of this conversation I came to the realization that the girl I was talking to had very few friends. In times of crisis when she needed someone to turn to, I was her sounding board, offering her gems of wisdom and support.
She told me that she didn’t have many friends after being married for 6 years. Apparently she had quite a few friends before she was married, but they all dropped off over time since she devoted all of her spare time to her partner. At the time, she felt her first priority was her husband, and that her friends would simply have to understand. After a while, friends stopped calling, and she woke up one morning with the realization that she had no really close friends in her life anymore.
How did it get to this?
I asked Julie this question, and initially she didn’t know how to answer. Her husband didn’t have all that many friends, so he only really had her to spend his spare time with, and he expected her to do the same. Her friends were mostly single, so didn’t always feel comfortable spending time around her considering she had a husband now. So the once or twice a week outings to bars stopped, and now she realized she had nobody in the world to turn to other than her husband.
Don’t get me wrong, her husband is a really nice guy, but at times I wondered if he seemed a little possessive, perhaps a little needy, and this neediness I wondered, may have cost her the friends she once had.
It got me to thinking.. When was the last time I did something alone with my friends? One of the things you realize in life is that the friendships and bonds you have with others are due to the time and effort that all of you are prepared to put in. They say the greatest gift you can give is time. I wonder how deep this truth is.
A healthy relationship requires a balance of "we" versus "me" time, and where possible, I encourage relationships with friends outside of the marriage. Part of being married is the realization that before you were married you were an individual. In fact, the individual is what attracted your partner to you in the first place. The individual had a clear sense of identity, knew what they wanted, and was a fun and interesting person to be around. Things change when you enter a relationship or marriage, but it pays to remember the person that your partner fell in love with.
Your friends are the people that will always be there for you, the angels that give you wings when you need a lift. Your friends often know more about you than you would care to think. Keep your friends. Make time for them. Foster your relationships with them. Love them.
The key to a healthy relationship is to love your partner. But your friendships are equally deserving of your time and love.