Not so long ago, I had someone that used to be so close to me tell me these words:
Yeah, go ahead and do whatever you like because you’re so good at leaving people.
I would have loved to stick it back to her in a place where the sun don’t shine but guess what, she was so right. As it so happens, in the past six months or so, I’ve had about three to four people tell me the exact thing about myself. Naturally, this led me to some soul searching moments that left me feeling like ‘you know what, I am okay with the person I have become…yeah maybe I could do with some adjustments here and there but really, I kinda love this version of me.’Continue reading I Deserve Better!→
The words you speak to me are sprinkled with a heavenly scent…but it’s your thoughts that make me quiver under my skin dear friend. When you told me you would take a bullet for me…I believed you. But what I didn’t know then was that you would be the one behind the trigger.
It is neither the things my eyes have seen nor what my ears have heard that hath me in shivers; your thoughts…it is your thoughts my friend. You used my tears to wash your laundry and my sacrifices for your pleasure. In seductive motions, I watched you dance to the tune of my pain…and even as I dared walk away, I could hear the sound of your laughter from over the marbles of your charade.
For a love so deep to turn so sour…could I have been the one to fire the first shots maybe? My tongue is lustrous but many are the times I have tasted sourly flavours from it. But if my tongue were to betray the sincerity of my soul, then shall I pluck it out lest I suffer the wrath of your dark veiled thoughts? I shudder.
In retrospect, it is not I that said goodbye first. Despite your whispers, your not so subtle eyes screamed the words at me. Because you are…or was once my friend, I understood. For Christ is my witness, to the grave shall I keep your honour and dignity intact even as I watch you throw stones at me from your glass house…because this is how I have always loved you.
It is not your proud face I wish to remember from when we parted. It is the sound of laughter, the knowing looks of amusement we would throw each other from either side of the table, the subtle bickering, and most importantly, the constant I love you and I miss you’s….
Ever had a friend come to you with a relationship problem that required the ‘break-up, don’t break-up’ kind of response? Should you simply be a listening ear, or should you give advise? And here’s my favourite, Is there something like a neutral ground??
The thing with family and friends is that they are there to be with you through thick and thin, to help shoulder your burdens and to give a listening ear when needed. Often, people will confide in a close friend or family relation about problems they’re facing in their relationships. Sometimes the friends will just listen to you cry, curse, threaten suicide or murder and simply give you a hug in response. Sometimes they might go ahead and give you advice if the situation calls for it…and this is where things get tricky.
I think many people have experienced moments…those terribly awkward moments when you just want to scream at your friend to just ‘dumb the bloody bastard for Christ’ sake, wont ya!?’ but you know you can’t out-rightly do that because you will be in deep shit if your friend decides to get back with the bagger in question. There are those friends who will rat you out to their other half that you had advised them to break-up because you thought they were terrible jerks who chewed a little too loudly.
“She even told me she never liked you from the get-go…she said she doesn’t like how you look at other women when we are at social gatherings. I don’t understand why she would say something like that.”
No, you didn’t?!!!!
This is exactly the kind of thing that should never be reported if you still plan on putting your friend in the same breathing space with your partner, ever! Unfortunately, it happens quite a lotta times!
Sometimes friends respond in kind – I mean; if you go to a friend crying your oesophagus off about how your boyfriend or girlfriend has been mistreating you, your friend will naturally feel inclined to side with you whether they agree with you or not. A good friend will show support for you but still tell you some facts you need to recognize in subtle ways but others will go all out and bring out all that stuff about your partner they had been harbouring because you finally gave them the opportunity to air their opinions out – honestly. And there is nothing wrong with that, to some extent.
When friends talk, it is always the hope that they can be as honest as possible and trust that you will keep those conversations within the confines of that friendship. However, the problem with dealing with relationship issues is that chances are that that information shared will very likely reach their partner who will end up hating you for life.
For me, the most delicate issue to talk about with my friends has always been about whether to advocate for a break-up or reconciliation or whether to let them go ahead with their decision to break-up or make them reconsider. A few years ago, I had a friend who had fallen head-over-heals in-love with someone and was preparing her wedding. Unfortunately, due to some circumstances around that time…including the wedding jitters obviously (and most importantly), she wanted to cancel the wedding. She ranted to me about all the negative things the person she was getting married to had and I was put in a position where I began to see the guy as the ultimate villain – you know, the Voldemort-like kind except with a bit of hair on the scalp.
I truly hated the guy despite the fact that I didn’t know him that well because I had never had any interactions with him before that could have given me a personal judgement of his character. Everything I knew about him, I learnt from his girlfriend who was my friend. A few times I ran into him, I would be thinking in my head, ‘what a douchebag, bloody nincompoop bastard.’ And yet a few weeks later…and this is the interesting part, my friend would be there ogling him and being all lovey-dovey. I cannot tell you how many times I had to regurgitate my own vomit in his presence.
The truth is, I was not responsible for coming up with that damning judgement of his character, my friend was. She had not given me the chance to get to know him on my own terms and opinions. Everything I knew about him was based off prejudice…prejudice that she herself created in me and all that my brain could do is get in sync with my schema and do even more social damage. That guy had no chance in my good books. However, because I didn’t want to jump too quickly into letting her give up on him during the times she felt like killing him, the only thing I could tell her was, ‘it’s just wedding jitters…soon he will get back to being the loving guy you fell in-love with…’ of course I never believed a single bullcrap of what I said but I felt it was something she needed to hear at that time.
There was no way in hell was I gonna tell her to break-up with a guy during a time she was obviously battling with hormones infused with all the drama that comes with wedding preps. Despite every fibre in me feeling like telling her to quit and find someone better in future, I bit my lips and hoped for a miracle. And yes, a miracle did finally happen! She got married to him and I got to know the guy on a personal basis and boy is he a good man! Not perfect, obviously, but he’s worth the fuss.
Fortunately, I learnt a lesson from this experience; that friendship is not an easy thing to maintain when dealing with relationship problems. To some extent, we are responsible for how our friends feel about our partners because they get impressions about them from what we say about them. Nature demands that if a friend is hurting from a bad relationship, whether she is telling us the truth or not, we are supposed to show them support.
The only time you can offer objective advice is if you know your friend’s character very well. I have a mildly short fuse. Fortunately, I have a best friend who knows this about me and every time I go to her ranting about how unfair to me my husband was during a particular time, she asks me to calm down and look at things objectively. Sometimes (maybe often?? Hehehe) she knows I am finding faults due to my own personality and that I am just blowing things out of proportion. And she is right most of the times – I tend to over analyse stuff, a lot. So she doesn’t jump to conclusions about advising me without looking at the situation critically. She will tell me to my face to calm my ovaries down and I do the same to her.
But not everyone has that kind of close relationship with their friends. Sometimes there are friends you might have trouble being honest with yet you still consider them friends. And so, every time you have to offer advice, you have to sugar coat stuff so much that by the end of the day, you would have done more damage than control to the situation. These are the kind of friendships that end up getting ruined once a relationship that was on the verge of collapse or had once ended is resurrected.
The fact is that as friends, we should take a major responsibility for how our friends see or view our partners because most of that judgement, we planted it in their heads. However, there will be times when friends will get a glimpse of a personality trait or character about their friend’s partner that she/he might not even be aware of…such as when they are displaying signs of dishonesty, cheating, or when they wish to end the relationship but can’t quite gather the courage to confront you about it. Very often, it is the friends in the side lines who are able to see things clearly because they are watching while you are taking part in the relationship. It’s difficult to see certain things when you are very closely involved in a situation. So the question is; do you make your friend aware of such a situation or is better to just wait and see…hope for the best or help pick up the pieces if the relationship crumbles?
Thing is, I don’t know what the right thing to do would be because all such situations have their own peculiarities that warrant special treatment. Sometimes you can clearly see a friend about to jump in a very wrong relationship with the signs screaming themselves higher than Mount Everest but because they are so invested in it, it’s hard to burst their bubble. And so you just cross your fingers and hope the water works never erupt.
I have personally learnt that I have to be careful about the things I say about my partner to my friends. Of course this doesn’t mean I have to be dishonest. Sometimes all you need to do is weigh the things in your head and see if they are really something you should talk about with a friend without them coming back to bite you in future. It is best to protect the dignity of your partner especially when dealing with certain special matters and maybe our friends might not always be the best people to seek advice from or vent…even harder when you are married.
Because you might be distressed and full of emotion, you might end up saying something about your partner to your friend and there is no undoing the damage in their heads once the seed has been planted. They are your protectors and always want the best for you, therefore, anything that hurts you, they will hate it.
Whereas you are in a position to judge whether your partner has changed or not and if you can trust them to be that way throughout, your friends don’t have that privilege and they will keep holding on to that perception you initially gave them. It won’t be easy for them to accept back into your life someone you once claimed mistreated or abused you. They saw how it affected you and they were the ones to help dry your tears. They don’t wish to ever see you like that again. It is not because they are jealous or that they don’t wish you happiness (well, not always), true friends will want the best for you.
Therefore, it is best to think certain things over – to gauge whether they are worth sharing with a friend or someone more experienced or older. It is unfair to put friends in a position where they have to side with either you or your partner and when they do side with you, you go and tell your partner all about it thereby putting them in a more awkward position.
As friends, it is better to accept that our friends won’t always take our advice. Yes you know that they are making a mistake and you tried to caution them in the most subtle ways possible yet they didn’t listen. Instead of piling up bitterness and resentment, the friendly thing to do would be to show them support when the time comes because you already did your part. You don’t need to shout; ‘I told you so…’ they already know. Everyone makes mistakes and relationship mistakes are the most common that cannot be avoided in one’s dating life. People don’t become better lovers/partners by simply reading books. The mistakes in themselves are teachers…very tough teachers, to say the least.
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 evilbut 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!