Since Tim and I got married, I’ve thought a lot about female friendships, and that’s probably why I chose the topic for this month’s blog carnival. Female friendships is what feminism is all about – helping each other, listening when we need to vent, sharing in our successes and our happiness.
Unfortunately, for many women, it seems that female friendships take a backseat to romantic relationships. Even more unfortunate, I think I’m sometimes guilty of putting my friendships with other women on the back burner.
It’s a strange transition when you get married. On one hand, you have this new partner and you’re finally married and the wedding is finally over and now you can get down to spending the rest of your lives together without a lot of distractions. On the other hand, you don’t want to lose the life you had before you got married – hanging out with friends, going to concerts, grabbing lunch. As you stand there at your wedding with your bridesmaids at your back, you are symbolically merging your life with another’s, as well as your family with another’s. This we know. What we often ignore during the ceremony, though, is that you are also merging your friends with another’s. But when it comes right down to it, in your vows, you’re really saying that you choose your new partner over anyone else in the world, no matter what. It’s an odd juxtaposition among all of the already hectic things going on during your wedding, and sometimes we don’t pay attention to this shift as much as we should.
Personally, I felt pulled in many different directions right after we got married. I wanted to maintain my relationships with my family and foster this new relationship with Tim, but I also wanted to keep the same relationship with my female friends as we had before the wedding. What happened in reality, though, is that my female friendships dropped off. Many of my friends got married very soon after I did, and as we were all dealing with the tug-of-war of our first years of marriage, we lost touch. It is just now, over a year later, that we are able to come back together and pick up where we left off.
It’s an age-old rule that we learn when we are in junior high: Don’t give up your girlfriends for your new boyfriend. Yet, as we grow older, many of us do give up friendships in favor of a romantic partner. Maybe we think we are older and wiser and, once our romantic relationship is secure, we don’t need the rest of our relationships. Maybe, as was the case for me, it’s just an accident; I was so tired after the wedding that all I wanted to do most days was curl up on the couch and turn my phone off. Even the thought of one more conversation exhausted me. I didn’t mean to stop making the effort, I just… did.
I also believe that my expectations for my friendships were too high. It was unrealistic of me to believe that my friendships would not change after I got married, just like it was unrealistic of me to believe that my relationship with Tim would not change after we got married. Part of growing is changing, and part of changing means our relationships will change. You hope that your friends, family, and romantic partners will grow and change with you, and most often they do. Those who have chosen to love us – and whom we have chosen to love – understand our struggles and our triumphs, and they choose to love us throughout it all and the changes it may bring. Sometimes, though, we change too much, and we grow apart.
The most important thing to remember as your life and your friends’ lives change is that we choose who we surround ourselves with. We share love with those who we feel deserve it, for whatever reason. And just because your relationship doesn’t look the same as it used to doesn’t mean your friendship is over, it just means it is taking a different path.
Photo Credit: Jerry Bunkers