After Brad and I were married, there was nothing we'd rather do than spend time with each other. We couldn't wait to get home from work, and we planned every weekend moment to maximize our time together. I wanted to spend all my time with him.
One day after we'd been married six months, while sifting through the mail, I came across a card from a college friend: "Thinking about you and praying that everything is going well in your new life."
Wow, I thought. I've really been neglecting my friends.
Marriage had changed my priorities—I felt complete fulfillment with my husband. For the first time I didn't have to stick one toe outside my front door to find what I was looking for. And I was content to keep it that way.
As the months passed, though, I noticed that other people had outside friends who didn't include their spouse. One night I looked at a photo of my mother, who passed away several years ago, and remembered all the friends she'd had.
Am I becoming a hermit? I wondered.
So I called a married friend who lives in another state and shared my thoughts.
"Denise," she told me, "it's natural for you to want to spend time with your husband. After 10 years I still do. Making Brad a priority is the way God intended it. But he can't be everything for you. God created us for community, which means you still need friends in your life. You and Brad need to figure out what that looks like in your marriage."
In a different place
The next day I had lunch with a couple of old friends from church. It didn't take long before the conversation shifted to the new cute guy at work, the next singles activity, and the latest on the dating front. I brought up my marriage a couple times, but was met with blank stares.
I left feeling depressed. How could my girlfriends have changed so much in less than a year?
That's when it hit me: they hadn't changed; I'd changed. I was no longer in the same place in life they were. I'd taken a different road—it wasn't their fault. But I felt sad that I never realized marriage would place me in a different circle. It was clear I needed to develop a friendship with someone walking the same road.
When I related the story to Brad, he said, "Maybe we could find some couple friends."
That night we prayed for God to bring another couple into our lives.
Not long after that, Brad reconnected with a childhood friend, Weldon, who lives in our area with his wife, Bev. Their best friends had just moved out of state, so they were in search of new companionship, too.
The first time we got together, Bev looked at me and said, "So tell me how you and Brad are doing in your new marriage."
"Brad and I are best friends, and we love to spend time together. But I've noticed my girlfriends and I have drifted apart."
Her knowing smile warmed me. We began to share our similar experiences and felt an immediate connection.
Brad and I are fortunate that we were able to find a married couple with whom we both connected. It's added an amazing dimension to our marriage.
I've learned that marriage changes the role and dynamics of friendships. I still spend the majority of my time with my best friend, Brad, and we both try to keep up with our single friends, although not as often. While I'm sad to see those relationships grow a bit more distant, I've met new friends who not only provide valuable advice in our walk, but also offer the opportunity to grow in oneness as Brad and I experience friendships together.
Been married five years or less and have an issue, challenge, adjustment, or rant about marriage? Tell us about it! We'll pay $150 for each story that's featured in this column. Send your story to: Starting Out at email@example.com
Copyright © 2005 by the author or Christianity Today/Marriage Partnership magazine. Click here for reprint information on Marriage Partnership.