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Tips for navigating outside friendships after 'I do.'
BY Tom and Caroline McDonald
A lifelong friend of mine has been married for two years. Since his wedding, he refuses to get together with “just the guys”; he will only do things with me or his other male friends if he can bring his wife along. I really like his wife, but it is seriously straining our friendship. I’m still single. Is this normal married behavior?
Proverbs 18:22 tells us, “He who finds a wife is a good thing and obtains favor from the Lord.” It sounds like your friend has done that. However, just two verses later, Proverbs 18:24 tells us that “some friends play at friendship, but a true friend sticks closer than one’s nearest kin.” That’s the part your friend needs to brush up on.
Back in college we used to call these types of folks “velcro couples,” due to the fact that they were never seen separated from each other. Interestingly, it seemed like they were the dating couples most likely to break up.
While your concern is legitimate, let’s put the problem in context. Your friend is still, relatively speaking, a newlywed. It is natural and normal for newlyweds to spend all sorts of time together in the excitement and romance of the early days of their marriage. Other friendships may get put on the back burner for a while, and that’s to be expected.
However, at the two-year mark, it would be somewhat concerning that your friend is still not making time for his other friends. Probably either he is feeling pressure from his wife not to leave her behind or he is generating the guilt himself, worried that she will feel rejected somehow if he chooses his buddies over her.
If the pressure is coming from his wife, there isn’t much you can do on that count. Hopefully, she has female friends of her own, and perhaps your friend can encourage his wife to spend time with her friends to get the ball rolling. It’s just as important for women to have female friends.
If he is self-generating guilt over leaving her, try to have an honest conversation with him about it. In fact, having some time every once in a while with you and the guys can add to his marriage, not detract from it. Every man needs male-bonding time, time to maintain all the relationships that make him the well-rounded, interesting person he is — the person his wife fell in love with.
There is truth in the old cliché: Absence does make the heart grow fonder. Occasional time apart from one’s spouse can actually strengthen their appreciation for each other and renew their romance when it becomes stale later on.
Most important, though, is the fact that men need the brotherhood in Christ that other men can provide and their wives cannot. Part of learning to be a good husband and father is to surround oneself with men who can be models and supportive in that area and who build one another up.
The McDonalds are family-life coordinators for the Archdiocese of Mobile, Alabama.