What you need to know:
- Off-loading single friends is not always the best move. Do not look down on your friends or perceive them as a bad influence on your marriage.
- Just because you got married doesn’t mean your single friends must get married in order to qualify to be your friends. Marriage isn’t for everyone.
- There are friends you may need to let go of to keep your marriage afloat. For instance, you may need to loosen your ties with your old drinking and partying circle of friends.
When one friend gets married, a huge portion of them leaves a friendship. The married and unmarried friends suddenly realise most of the things they did together previously are no longer doable. They can’t hang out and drink all night long or go on endless dates for fun. The married friend is accountable to someone else. Also, the married friend is socially expected to create or join a new circle of married friends who can guide them.
“Friendships in adulthood are often difficult to start, build and maintain mainly due to a lack of free time,” says Dr Chris Hart, a psychologist. With marriage, time becomes scarce as the juggle between spouse, family, and career takes prominence. Incidentally, marriage and divorce are two of the key reasons why friendships end. “If you have just divorced, you’ll notice the friends you had as a couple suddenly stop hanging with you or inviting you to their parties and social gatherings,” says Dr. Hart. Men are more likely to find themselves in the jungle and without friends to lean on after a divorce. “This is because it was their wives who ran their social network and took it with them after the divorce.”
Off-loading single friends is not always the best move. Do not look down on your friends or perceive them as a bad influence on your marriage. “The notion that singletons are a hazard to your marriage is not entirely true. Don’t be condescending too,” says family therapist Susan Gacheru. This perception can also be perpetrated by your partner. For example, if your spouse doesn’t like some of your single friends, they may convince you to drop them by casting them as bad influences and unworthy to be your friends. In the same vein, do not force marriage on your single friends. “Just because you got married doesn’t mean your single friends must get married in order to qualify to be your friends. Marriage isn’t for everyone,” says Gacheru.
It is normal that your friends will expect you to continue making time to hang out as you did before getting hitched. According to Ken Munyua, a psychologist based in Nairobi, they may feel betrayed or let down if you cut off all the links you previously had and enjoyed, or opt for a new set of friends. Set aside time to be with them. This may include phone calls or deliberate get-togethers. “Bear in mind that friendship is worth more than gold. Your mutual interests are still essential even after you get married. Be the friend you’d want them to be,” he says.
Remember your friends know well and can tell when you’re about to get into trouble. They will also be the best bet to rescue you from an abusive marriage because they know how you behave. “If you’re dating a psychopath, cutting ties with your friends is something the psychopath will advocate for under the guise of protecting your privacy. They know once the ties are cut, you’ll have no option but to fall before their feet in worship and trepidation,” says Gacheru.
Boundaries and expectations
Set boundaries that will exhibit your commitment towards your friendships, and how far you are willing to go. If you keep friends after marriage, don’t make the habit of telling them how foolish your partner is, how you regret getting married, his poor bedroom skills, and about your nasty in-laws. Additionally, Munyua says, your friends’ lives may change at some point. “Their positions in life will inevitably change in one way or another, and how they behave towards you will likely take a cue from how you handled them when your status changed,” he says.
That said, there are friends you may need to let go of to keep your marriage afloat. For instance, you may need to loosen your ties with your old drinking and partying circle of friends.