© 2019 by Martin Frith, RMFT

When You Get Married, Don’t Ditch Your Friends

January 28, 2016

 

Surely it’s one of the greater perks of marriage, getting to wake up every morning next to your best friend. The person who knows you best and who you know best in the world. So it makes sense, then, that you might feel the urge to let your other friendships slide. Why hang out with other people, after all, when you’ve got everything you need right there at home? And with Netflix and the occasional opportunity for sex to boot. Seems like a win-win, right? Well, it’s not.

 

Though it’s common for couples to drift away from friendships once they get married, especially for men, it shouldn’t be. Friends are a necessary element of a healthy life. As Aristotle said, “In poverty and other misfortunes of life, true friends are a sure refuge.” And if these wise 2,400-year-old words don’t do it for you, consider this, a 10-year Australian study on friendship and social networks found that older people with a larger circle of friends actually live longer. Oh, and then there’s this Harvard study that shows people with strong social ties actually have improved brain health.

 

But numbers and data aside, think about it this way: if your partner is your sole means of emotional support, who are you going to turn to when you hit a rocky point in the relationship? Because that’s definitely going to happen. Who are you going to talk to about it? Friendships are more than just a way to spend a Friday night, or a way to save seats at the movie theater, they’re an emotional safety net that helps you maintain perspective and empathy. Like when you get all keyed up about something, they can talk you down, or when you get excited about something, they can celebrate with you. And more than that, you can do that for them. After all, being available for others is what makes us decent people.

 

Now this doesn’t mean that your friendships aren’t going to change when you get married, because they will. You can’t hang out and play video games until the wee hours every night of the week. And when invites for activities come up, consultation with your partner is a definite must. But change doesn’t mean that you should disappear, it just means change. It means adjusting to the fact that there’s someone in your life now who is a permanent part of the equation when it comes to how you spend your time.

 

If anything, marriage should be a boon to friendship. Sure, your single friends will miss going out with you to bars on a Friday night, but there are plenty of other ways to spend time together. I can tell you from firsthand experience, it’s not that hard to adapt. But more importantly, as a married couple you now have the opportunity to begin friendships with other married couples. You are officially the kings and queens of brunch. No more sitting around bored on a Saturday afternoon with nothing to do. So get out there and make some friends, but keep the old ones too. Life is a hell of a lot better when you have a lot of people to share it with.

 

This article was originally posted in the nest

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