Not so long ago a friend of mine berated me for being a ‘bad friend’ and I have to say…she was right to do so! Ever since I got married, a lot of things have changed about me, my choices, my decisions, and most importantly, my priorities. Some of the changes occurred naturally, without me even being aware of them while some of them were a result of my conscious decisions. The major error I made during this transition was assuming that everyone around me would accept these changes about my life and make adjustments accordingly. I was dead wrong.
There is this misconception that whenever a friend gets married, “ayamba kumeka….” Well, sometimes it’s true…but it’s not always the case. After the talk I had with a dear friend of mine, I started to re-evaluate my friendships; exactly, what changes take place in a friendship after one gets married? What friends do I wanna keep and which ones should I let go? By the way, what makes a great friendship?
What Changes After a Friend Gets Married?
I put priorities on top of the list because it’s been the major reason behind almost all the problems I have had with most of my friends, and sometimes family too! The moment you say “I Do,” your spouse becomes your number one priority when it comes to all things human. Almost all decisions you make and the things you do have to be communicated to your spouse before they are actually realized. Inevitably, this means that your spouse will have a say in the type of friends you have and somewhere along the way, compromises will have to be made for the sake of love and peace.
But what happens if your spouse is not a fan of one of your closest friends? You have been through thick and thin with this person but there is just something about them that bugs your spouse…and somehow, you silently admit that there is real cause for concern but you have accepted this fact about your friend and that’s what made your friendship work. Or perhaps your close friend is of the opposite sex and your closeness just drives your spouse insane! Or, it could be that your close friend is just not your spouse’s type and they don’t seem to see eye-to-eye whenever they are in the same company. What do you do then?
I believe that married people should not act as if they were an island; thinking that they can exist just the two of them without much need for family and friends. All that Bonnie and Clyde stuff doesn’t work well in reality. It is not easy to survive when you are living your life believing that it’s you against the world. Sometimes love is just not enough. You need people around you that love and care about you in your time of need and happiness. That’s just how nature operates. Even though getting married will require you to evaluate your list of friends, it doesn’t mean that you have to completely alienate yourself from all of them. If all fails, you could still try to get yourself a new set of friends if the old ones aren’t so compatible with your new status.
The major problem I have come to learn since I got married is retaining your old close friends. When once you could ditch work or whatever else you were doing to run to them to comfort them in their time of need, it no longer becomes the case because there is someone else or others more important you have to consider before running off in haste. So there lies your friend, alone and broken in her room with no one to comfort her after a broken heart. He or she feels bitter that you were not there for them in their time of need and so they slowly start distancing themselves from you. You are also upset that they cannot understand your situation and so you don’t bother contacting them to smooth things over. Eventually, your friendship ceases to exist.
The failure for friends to adjust and accept that they are no longer at the top of your list of priorities…and your failure as the married friend to adjust your priorities in ways that won’t push away your friends further is what causes most friendships to break after marriage. Where once you could share almost everything about your life, even clothes, plates, money and secrets…there is someone else in your life that shares these things with you or has a say about them. Most of the responsibility lies with the friends – especially the single or the unmarried friends that might have to make adjustments and accept that certain things are going to change once their friend gets married.
This is one of the reasons why it is mostly encouraged in the African tradition for married people to only keep friendships with married friends…it’s easy for them to relate and understand than it is for those that are not married. Unfortunately, this is easier said than done because cutting off old friendships completely from your life that meant everything to you can leave a lasting salty taste in the mouth. You still want to keep them in your life…but just not in the same position as they used to be in your heart and they just won’t have any of that! Naturally, you are doomed…but you still need to make a decision.
This is where compromise comes in for married folks. You will need to take responsibility for friendships you have decided to keep and those you discarded. And for those friendships that don’t sit well with your spouse, you need to weigh your options thoroughly and decide which side will win you the most favour in life if pleased. The truth is that, it is better to please your spouse but this is not to say you have to yield to their demands even when you know you are obviously making a huge mistake. Sometimes all it takes is just communication and making certain compromises along the way. Sadly, I haven’t applied this much in my life…I still struggle even when I know the right thing to do.
There have been times when I have gotten mad at my friends for failing to understand where I was coming from. They want to come into the house I share with my husband and act like they used to when I was single and living by myself; you have an extra mattress, why not just give it to me? I need to borrow a 3K, will give you back next month…can I borrow that dress you wore last time at that wedding? Oh wow, macaroon and cheese, am so hungry thank God you cooked! Yes I have an extra mattress…but that’s because I receive visitors and relatives every now and then. Yes I have the money, but I can’t just give it to you without talking to my husband first…or perhaps I need if for emergencies because I have a family to take care of now. About that dress…my husband really doesn’t like me sharing my clothes…or he bought it for me as a gift…or I just don’t like sharing my clothes anymore. Oh yes, by all means eat everything in my fridge, just don’t touch food I prepared for my husband!
It is natural to desire to spend more time with your friends, especially when you are happy and not just when you are down. However, it is a given that once someone marries, their whole concept of time management shifts as adjustments will have to be made. For men who used to enjoy a good night out with the boys, it’s a pain in the neck having to seek consent from your spouse every time you want some time out. Even for women, having someone constantly asking you what time you will be heading home when u r trying to catch up with your girlfriends isn’t very pleasing either. Your friends will get irritated by your constant attention to your phone which is making it hard for them to have a conversation with you. This is why it is always best to communicate certain things with your spouses and come to some sort of agreement as to your time out so that you don’t end up feeling suffocated in your marriage.
If you love and trust your spouse, you will trust that they can spend a few hours with their friends just having honest fun or catching up without you checking up on them every minute. Yes it’s nice for married people to spend time together and do fun things together…but I don’t think a few times away from each other would hurt. There are things that can only be said amongst friends and always having your spouse with you whenever a friend wants to talk to you can make them uncomfortable.
So then What Makes a Great Friendship?
There was a time I was forced to make a decision about whether to keep a certain friend or just let her go. I spent some time going over my past adventures with her and how far the two of us had come. Pf course we had our ups and downs but we were there for each other through it all; I would have promised to bring the moon to her and she would have promised to cross the oceans for me and then we would have both laughed and called each other fools – that’s how close we were yet suddenly…well, maybe not so suddenly because the signs had been there for a while – our friendship reached a point where I had to decide if I still needed her in my life. I knew then that we had reached rock bottom. However, before any relationship can be broken off, there is always one question that demands answering; can we work it out?
It finally dawned on me that I could no longer be the friend she expected me to be and that she was no longer the friend I once cherished. My friendship with her shuttered because it started bearing a price-tag which neither of us could afford. It was then that I asked myself; what makes a good friendship…what does it mean to be a good friend?
- Love – true love in a friendship bears all the other things listed here and it is always unconditional. But no other book well articulates it as the Bible does in;
1 Corinthians 13: 4-7:
4Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Dear Lord, what more can I say?
It is nice to expect all these qualities in people we consider friends but it is even better to strive to have all these qualities in us if we want to have great friendships!