“One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.” – Henry Miller
How true is this? This could be said of so many changes in our lives; graduation, milestone birthdays, new career paths, new friendships, and relationship milestones.
We’re going to focus on the last one in this entry, specifically the marriage milestone. For romantic relationships, marriage should be the destination, not because of a piece of paper or societal standards of intimacy, but because of what it symbolizes: eternal unity. Also, for tax purposes.
But many people find themselves void of outside friendships after they’ve said, “I do.” Why is this? Well, there are actually a multitude of reasons, as well as a multitude of reasons why this is completely natural and fine.
So sudden, or was it?
It may feel like as soon as you returned from your honeymoon, it was you and your spouse against the world. In some ways it is. There’s no one else in life that is going to be as current with your goings-on, or back you as strongly as your spouse, and vice-versa. Should the Lord allow, this person will stay with you until and throughout your golden years. You’ll withstand trials and extreme joy with this person in the years to come.
This is certainly a thing to celebrate, and you’re well within your right to be excited!
But maybe in doing so, you were less likely to call your best friend when there’s something to talk about. Maybe you’re opting to share juicy news exclusively with your new spouse rather than in your group text. Perhaps you’re choosing to spend your weekends with your spouse and their family as opposed to going out on the weekends with your girlfriends – and maybe you’re not.
It is entirely possible that your loved ones who have been jaded in relationships or have had less fortune in the arena of love are avoiding your bliss that they find annoying right now. If this is the case, these people are likely to take a slight vacation, but ultimately draw themselves back to you due to the characteristics you hold that attracted them to your friendship to begin with.
I think inward reflection is a reliable indicator as to whether you’ve pushed others away or if they’ve chosen to migrate further from you.
Best Friends or Just Good Friends?
It seems somewhat juvenile to try to draw a line here, doesn’t it? But the line draws itself whether we try to justify a difference or not. I think many of us refer to someone in our lives as, “best friend,” very naturally. There’s nothing wrong with that.
But if you’ve found yourself losing part of your social circle, try to recognize the difference. I have a tremendous habit of being drawn to a new friend and trying to determine that they are a new “best friend,” even in adulthood, when it is so difficult to make and retain new friends.
Something that many seasoned people will agree that many people enter and exit your life, and few remain lifelong friends. Sociologist Gerald Mollenhort concluded (via survey and study) that you lose half of your social circle every seven years. Yet, statistically you are likely to have one to two lifelong friends maximum. This leaves a lot of people behind eventually, and most aren’t worth losing sleep over.
If we are being honest with ourselves, we can get down to the meat and bones of our relationships and determine who we are not willing to lose. These are the people that we will go the extra mile for and ensure we stay connected to. Most likely, you are doing this already subconsciously.
Your Vibe Attracts Your Tribe
(shameless kiss photo to show my top)
I have readily adopted this saying from the moment I first read it on this tank top. As I’ve mentioned, trying to make friends is so difficult in adulthood. There are arguments from every side as to why this is, ranging from busier lives, not being grouped together in school anymore, family obligations, the list goes on and on. As we’ve already determined, we make time for the people we want to make time for, so we can eliminate a few of these. I think there is something to be said about how being forced to attend classes or sports together makes it more natural to form bonds whenever we are young, but I believe the root of the entire problem lies within our own security.
If you foster a welcoming environment, the friendships will come and flood your gates. Likewise, if you put out a closed-off vibe, people are less likely to approach you. It is so difficult to find good, welcoming people in this phase of your life, somewhat based on the obstacles given above.
You may be finding it difficult to fill those new gaps in your circle, and I will speak on forging adult friendships in a later post, but maintaining a positive and inviting attitude will aid you in this effort.
Re-visiting Family as Friends
You may recall enthusiastically referring to your cousins, aunts, or uncles as your very best friends, whenever you were younger. Are they still an active part of your life week to week?
Perhaps you’ve even drifted less than within arm’s reach from your brother or sister. Or have your phone calls back home to Mom and Dad become less frequent lately?
It may be that you were even forced to find emotional support outside of your family, and if I’m speaking to you, then believe that I am not telling you that you should allow anyone back into your life that has hurt you.
One of the most beautiful traits that children possess is a magnificent sense of self and family and how they relate. Somewhere along the way, many of us feel as though we require friends outside of our family.
To speak from experience, once I moved out of my parents’ house, I became more as a child again in some ways. In ways that I felt seasoned and invincible before I left the nest, I suddenly found myself calling my parents for support.
Sometimes this meant a text to my mom because I had (once again) shrunk my soon-to-be husband’s clothes in the wash. Other times it was a phone call to my dad to try and describe an odd rattle or scent in my car to receive guidance on whether it was fine or I needed to see his mechanic. I began to become paranoid that I wouldn’t be as tight-knit with my younger brothers I’d left back home, so I’d have them over for sleepovers or I’d come home and take them to the local water park.
My point here is that before I was married (or in any committed relationship, for that matter), I had an abundance of friendships that would eventually fall by the wayside, and now my closest pals are family. I don’t think we should ever discount that or take those people for granted.
Family members are unique friends in that they are around for years and years because they have to be. Even when you go through your awkward phases, even when you change your identity over and over to try and find yourself, and even when you get married.
Know Your Worth
If you’ve gone through this checklist, and you are shrugging your shoulders and saying to me, “I’ve done the right things, and this or that person is still fading away.” Let them. Have best wishes for them, pray for them, and let them go. The most important person in your life right now is your spouse. If you have children, the most important person in your life will still be your spouse. If the world catches fire and everyone is seeking refuge, your spouse will be the one there helping you gather the kids and get the heck out of Dodge.
If the worst thing someone can say about you is that you began to let your spouse come first and they were no longer your number one priority, let that be a compliment. Respectfully, let them go.
“Always strive to give your spouse the very best of yourself; not what’s left over after you have given your best to everyone else.” – Dave Willis