When I got married a year ago, I didn't know just how much, or how quickly, my relationships with my girl friends would change. Some friendships have grown, while others have dwindled. But one thing in common is that none of them have stayed the same.
To be honest, the shift in dynamic made me more wistful than happy. I often catch myself with vague yet all-to-familiar feelings of regretful longing. I miss girls' nights out and girls' nights in. I miss sitting on my couch eating sushi with my roommate. I miss long, drawn out phone conversations about how our love lives are going. I miss the coffee dates, brunch dates, workout dates, dinner dates, you name it.
Staying close to my girlfriends may seem like a simple matter of prioritization, but it isn't that easy. While I wouldn't trade being married to my husband for the world, marriage brings with it a lot of stuff. Marriage requires some orientation time, from the dynamics of learning to live with a guy who may as well be a martian, to relocating, or to suddenly cooking and doing laundry for two on a regular basis—it can be rather all consuming at times.
Five months into motherhood, I find myself at a point where I have more capacity to evaluate what has happened to my friendships, whether or not I’m okay with it, and what to do about it if I’m not.
Upon reflection, I find myself consumed with guilt—for not being there like I used to, for considerably less face time, for less secrets just between the two of us. As much as my friends may feel that I’ve moved on with my life or that they’ve lost me somehow, I feel the exact same way about them.
So what to do about it?
Accept Reality. This is really hard to do, but the simple fact is that things have changed. In marriage, your spouse becomes your number one priority. It doesn’t do anyone any favors to pretend like you’ll still have time for your friends the way that you used to. Talking about the changes openly demystifies the situation, and makes it possible for you to figure out ways to keep the flame of your friendships alive.
Create New Routines. When you were a singleton, you probably had your go-to routines with your gals—Friday night dancing, anyone? This chapter in your life is an opportunity to create habits that make your friends a part of your new routine, even if it means planning pedicures and phone calls far in advance. When I was engaged, a good friend of mine would make appointments for us at our favorite nail salon a month out. Those guaranteed hours of girl time and great looking toes were precious moments that we were able to look forward to regularly no matter how busy our lives became.
Come Through. Being a wife, and now a mama, means that I operate on schedules other than my own. Nowadays, I probably accept 1 out of every 10 invitations from friends, if not less. But when I do, it’s a pretty amazing time. The key is not to set plans unless you definitely know you’ll pull through. Once in a while, something will come up. In that case, apologize and set up another time. But don’t make this a habit! This is a sensitive time and if it happens frequently, friends won’t put up with it for very long.
Just like marriages, our friendships require a little effort at times. It can be depressing to feel like your friendships take work, but this doesn't mean that they are not worth the effort.
(Photo by Daniel M. Viero )