We’ve been doing a series on friendship at our local church, where the pastor has been going through the different types of friendships that one can have, and the seasons that those friendships go through. It reminded me of a conversation that my mom and I once had about marriage and friendships.
Before I got married, the counsel I received was that you couldn’t have unmarried friends if, for example, you’re married. This always left me upset and frustrated because I really couldn’t understand how friends could interfere with my marriage or how I’d become someone who no longer needed friends – who were once so dear. This conversation with my mom once ended with her saying: “It’s something that will happen naturally – you’ll see it when you get married.”
Often I have private conversations (with myself) where I turn over things that people said in jest, in an argument, in a discussion and in various settings. So it was natural for me, when last Saturday, I started thinking about this ‘friendship conversation’ I had had with my mom. Whilst watching my 3year old and her 1.5-year-old brother play, at the play area in a local restaurant, I noticed that my little one struggled with climbing up the jungle-gym and that it was really hard for him to keep up or attach to a group. It seemed, naturally (if I might add) that the kids of similar age and of the same sex, gravitated towards each other; forming groups of their own, with an understanding which seemed…almost unique to them. In that moment, I understood what my mother meant…all those years ago.
When you get married, you lose your single friends. You don’t lose them because you call them up and say: “Look, I’m married now…so we can’t hang.” You lose them because you lose each other in conversations, in your way of thinking, in your priorities, in your style, on where you like to spend your time. Not only do you lose your friends but you lose yourself and you have to rediscover yourself too. It happens because, there are certain traits or attributes you may have had, as a single person, which may not contribute to a healthy, sustainable marriage. If, for example, I enjoyed silence and reading a good book, after a long day at work (prior to marriage) and my spouse enjoyed unwinding by playing loud music, someone has to compromise – even if it’s on every other day! Compromise means change, though sometimes small, it’s still significant.
When people give up aspects of themselves, they often take on other traits. This taking off and putting on…over time, creates a completely new person. It doesn’t necessarily happen because married people think they’re now ‘better’ but because they are consciously and subconsciously looking at themselves and each other, both trying to mirror the good that they see in the other spouse. It’s how the marriage remains alive. Couples who cannot identify traits worth having in their spouse, who are unwilling to adopt them, are more likely to compromise their own personal growth and that of their marriage.
Single friends can easily get lost in all this change, not fully understanding what is taking place. The married people may also not be equipped to deal with not being understood, because they are trying to please two groups whose needs may at times be contrary. In my life, I’ve experienced the loss of friends and it’s hurt, but fortunately, I have had single friends who have been patient whilst I discover this new person I’ve become and am becoming, which has made me cherish these friendships all the more.