Today I’m going to share about the 7th personal lesson I have learned in 5 years of marriage.
7) Friends matter!
So many women and men have had inner turmoils and even open conflict because of friendships made before and after they said ‘I do’. Some have advocated the ditching of all ‘single’ or ‘relatively irresponsible’ friends and with good reason (if you hear their stories) while others have kept their friends and made new ones along the way with varying results.
I can safely say that marriage did not force me to cut the ties from any old friendships (apart from exes) but there have been some new friendships that I have taken a step back from because they didn’t sit right with my life goals and beliefs. I met a married woman some months after I got married who I was initially friendly with. She wanted to show me the town, introduce me to her friends, organize a lot of exciting hangouts and of course wear matching outfits (asoebi) to every occasion under the sun. She basically wanted me to be part of her squad. Her squad entailed a bunch of married, fashionable, worldly wise women who wanted to be known and know anyone and everyone who was anyone in town. They even had a name for their association! I should have been flattered seeing as I was in a new town with no friends and she seemed learned and nice but something held me back. In marriage you have got to trust your gut! Years later, I am happy I didn’t encourage the friendship because I was to learn later on that there’s a certain general opinion about married women in cliques and I really wasn’t interested in being part of the statistic especially since it was usually rife with scandals. Sometimes being alone is better than being with the wrong crowd.
When you get married it’s very usual to be separated from your closest friends- not by choice, but due to distance or work commitments or even family commitments. It doesn’t give you an excuse to replace them with whoever is available. Don’t let the saying that when the desired is not available, the available becomes desired- become your story. You need to be even pickier with making friends after you get married because these friends will ultimately affect your mindset, influence your marriage and your kids and offer advice to you at least once in your lifetime, advice that may break or make you.
Little wonder a lot of husbands are paranoid about some of their wives’ friends. I know men who asked their wives to cut off from childhood friends simply because the friend in question was still single or too wild in their opinion. But I ask the men this question; If your woman could be influenced by these so called bad friends or single women who were in her life long before you showed up, wouldn’t she have been influenced before she got married thereby making her less than the virtuous woman you ended up marrying? Some men have good reason to worry about a friendship but for others it’s a thing of control.
Don’t get me wrong, there are reasons to ditch an old friendship. People change, people grow apart, people stop traveling the same path, people stop having things in common and sometimes jealousy and bitterness from old grudges poison friendships and of course, there are times when everyone but the two people involved can see that the friendship is toxic and in that case your husband has good reason to save you from yourself. You just need to trust that it’s coming from a good place and not due to selfish reasons because a man can get jealous about sharing his wife with her female friend(s).
I had a friend whose ideas about many serious issues were very outlandish based on her upbringing and life experiences. I internalized what I thought made sense but discarded her other ideas. However, hubby got uncomfortable when I would tell him about my interesting conversations with her and one day he told me he wasn’t comfortable with the friendship. It was the first time he was telling me to beware of a friendship and the feminist in me wanted to rise up and let him know I could be friends with whoever I deemed fit and I was basically too old to succumb to peer pressure (maybe I said it out loud, can’t remember 😁). Anyway I listened and I stepped down the intensity of the friendship by a notch or two and life continued relatively drama free…
A woman is taught to make her husband her best friend but we all need one or two other people to unwind with from time to time who we don’t have sex with every night! I have always been of the opinion that a woman with too many friends comes to ruin (ref: the Bible) and thanks to Hollywood, a group of 2-4 women makes the perfect friendship circle (Sex and the city for example). Once you have more than 3 very close friends it’s no more friendship just multiple information channels for the dissemination of your private business to the world.
Sisters make the best friends in the world so before you start looking for a new friend, call home…
Once you find a good friend, you stick with her whether she is single, widowed, divorced or plain crazy. These things are not infectious! However if you think her reasoning or some of her actions may negatively impact on your marriage you are allowed to pick your marriage over the friendship if you can’t control the situation (but please be certain so there are no regrets). Also remember the popular saying that show me your friends and I’ll tell you who you are, so if bestie is a runz girl, it says a lot about you!
Finally there’s the very important issue of our husbands’ friends…Did i hear a woman sigh? Almost every woman ever married has disliked at least one of her husband’s friends. Putting distance between a bad friend and your hubby is difficult but worth the trouble. Over the years, I succeeded in putting space between the friends I didn’t think he should be keeping, with a mix of positive reinforcements (for the friends I approved of), prayers, substitute activities (scheduled at the same time as whatever activity he was going to do with the funny friend) and a courteous but not encouraging (very formal) demeanor towards the friends I didn’t approve of (I’m sure they got the message- sorry, not sorry). I also chipped in wifely advice very occasionally about why keeping the right company was important but was very careful with words because of how sensitive the matter potentially was.
Why did I think it important? Most men are not built to be lone wolves, they run in packs and if the pack consists of adulterous men who drink too much, have little regard for God or their wives, engage in get rich quick schemes or constantly keep late nights then MBA (NO!), they have got to go. Hubby thankfully had no serious ties to any of those friends so letting them go didn’t affect his joy. I also made sure I introduced hubby to the husbands of my close friends to see if there would be a spark (many times there wasn’t) but thankfully hubby is close friends with the husband of one of my close friends and we (my friend and I) are both ecstatic about it #couplefriendshipgoals. And of course, I didn’t mess with hubby’s university friends because he had told me they were his ride or die friends and since he became the great guy I met and married with the influence of these guys then I had no qualms with them sticking around. Instead, I developed friendships with the wives of these friends so that shared vacations and hangouts wouldn’t be awkward!
In a nutshell, friends can complicate your marriage, they can also make it stronger by offering solid counsel, immeasurable support and unwavering encouragement but it all boils down to who you let into your life. Friends matter, dont take this lightly. Choose wisely!
Have a beautiful day chutzpah fam,