Monday, September 26, 2011

Monday Marriage Matters: Friends

Last week, my family lost a very dear friend.  His family has been a part of our family for almost 25 years, and in the wake of the sorrow and grief that we are all working through, I've gotten to thinking about couple-friends. Because I know that for a lot of us, it's very hard to make friends. There's the first problem, which is that making friends as an adult is challenging.  You are likely to have work friends, or friends from various clubs or activities, but finding true kindred spirits is really challenging.  In school, especially college, making friends is easy. You have a dorm environment, it's easy to pick out people with similar interests or ideas, and everybody needs to make friends.

The problem with being a couple is that often for couples, a person dates or marries somebody that doesn't represent all facets of their being.  The reason you are friends with somebody isn't necessarily the reason why somebody else is friends with them, therefore it is entirely possible that your best friend could wind up with somebody that you don't really like or "get" at all.  Sometimes they wind up with somebody you think is totally awesome, and then it turns out your spouse doesn't really like either of them.  Sometimes they wind up with somebody you find extremely annoying, and then you and your spouse are sad because you have to stop hanging out with your friend because his/her annoying significant other always wants to come.  Sometimes they are awesome but they live far away and you don't get to see them that often.  (This was actually the case for us growing up - our friends lived in Egypt, so we saw them every other year, for about a month at a time.)  All of this makes me think that meeting the right other couples to be friends with is largely a matter of luck and being in the right place at the right time, and being committed enough to wanting friends that you pursue a friendship.

There are some other problems with being friends with a couple, and I think it's often hard for both people in the couple to like both members of the other couple equally.  This is the thing about my family and our friends that is really striking.  My parents both were really good friends with both members of the couple.  I should point out that if making friends for most people is challenging, making friends for my parents is Everest.  My mother is painfully shy and can be hard to get to know, and my dad is well, my dad.  But somehow, they found the two nicest, most warm-hearted people in the entire world who not only were willing to be my parents friends, but counted themselves lucky have my parents as friends!  I think another big part of this was they had children the same age, which gave them something in common and meant that nobody got left behind when the other couple decided to have kids.

I don't think there are any real secrets to making friends as couples - I think the answer might just be to keep trying to meet people until you meet the right people?  Or to make sure you regularly have dinner dates, etc. with other couples? Does anyone have any suggestions? Have you struggled to make friends with other couples, especially in a new city?  Do you think, like I do, that it is largely a matter of luck and meeting the right people, or is there something more that is required?

3 comments:

  1. It is so hard to make new friends as a grown-up and then if you factor in wanting them to like your partner too... Very difficult. We recently moved to a new city for my husband's job and we're still working on it!

    I truely believe that one of the reasons that my husband and I have such a strong relationship is because we have separate friends. Sure we hang out with partners sometimes, but we respect each other's time with our own friends too.

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  2. Wow, this hits so close to home right now. One of my husband's close from hs and who I had lived with and gotten close to after college just told us she is getting married (or plans to get engaged) very soon... to someone who we think brings out the WORST parts of her personality and is himself not so awesome. It stinks, b/c now not only is our friend dating someone we dislike, but she is becoming someone we dislike herself due to said partner's influence. It is an unpleasant situation and very difficult. Add that to how difficult it really is an adult to make new friends and we're in the friendship blues right now. Ugh.

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  3. Agreed with the hitting close to home. His best friends just (after standing up for us at our wedding and having no issue, not even an unspoken one, with me for two years) announced that I'm a monster and they're cutting off all everything. It's been a ridiculously bad few months. We'll figure it out, but it's tough.

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