Relax… I do not mean “share” in the polyamorous sense of the word. That’s not my thing. Only two people in my bed, please… Unless we are adding our snuggly adorable children. Wait. No. I still prefer just my husband and I in my bed. Unless I can have my bed all to myself. What the heck? You guys totally got me sidetracked!
What I mean is, in a committed two-person relationship, it is still a really good idea to share! One of the myths of marriage is that it is a relationship between two people. It’s easy to believe that once you tie the knot, you and your spouse exist in a silo. The two of you make your little home and maybe you put up a white picket fence around it and there you will stay for the rest of your days in wedded bliss. Together you’ll share the romantic notion that it’s just “You and me against the world, Baby! I gotchu! We all we got? We all we need!”
Hate to break it to you, but you are not Jay Z and Beyoncé on tour. You need community before you get married and you will definitely need community after you get married. This is one of the reasons that when I talk about how to “Date Smart” with the pre-marriage crowd, I tell them that they need to have a list of red flags about the people they choose to date. One of those red flags should absolutely be: “Does not want to hang out with my friends.”
Seriously, if you are with someone that doesn’t ever want to be around your friends, it’s a problem. You picked your friends because you like them. They know you pretty well and they like you. Now you are dating someone that says, “Babe, I’d rather just hang out with you. I’m not really into your friends.” Nope. Dealbreaker. If community is important to you, which it should be, then you need to be with someone who loves you along with your people.
So… let’s just say you are married now, and your spouse has nothing really against your friends, but somehow you’ve lost track of all of them. It happens to the best of us. We start our wedded lives together and in the busyness, we get used to coming home to our one and only and forget to make time for those friendships that used to mean so much to us. Now is a great time to get back in the habit. Here are a few ways to do that…
Go on a Double Date
It is so important that you make time to continue to date your spouse once you are married. One of the great ways to do this is to be intentional and plan a double date!
I always find that I am delighted and surprised when I hear Tony talking to our friends. Even if he’s sharing something I know about, I love hearing him reframe the story for someone else’s benefit. I like watching other people pay attention to him and engage with him. Maybe it’s because he tends to listen more than he shares in a group. Maybe it’s the difference between our familiar way of talking and his way of speaking with someone less intimately. Either way, being around other couples gives us a chance to engage with each other just a little bit differently than we normally would, and I like it.
We had a chance recently to double-date with some friends we hadn’t spent in-person time with in more than a year! It’s amazing what you can catch up on and share with each other when someone else is doing the cooking and you don’t have tiny people to pay attention to. Adult conversation has become this rare and precious commodity and we left that night both feeling refreshed from it.
Plan a Family Dinner
A double date is ideal, but it can also be pretty pricey and tough to coordinate if you are in the season of life like we are with small children. So, another way to get your community fix is to invite another family over for dinner. Sure, having a houseful can be hectic, and you may not be able to finish a sentence without tending to all of the needy toddlers, but you make an effort. We can’t wait until the kids are grown and out of the house to reconnect with our friends. It’s important to connect in the midst of what life is really like for all of us.
Oh, and if you are married and don’t have kids, don’t begrudge your friends that do. Of course they aren’t available at the drop of a hat to go see Hozier! No they can’t just get a sitter. Do you know what kind of maniacs are out there posing as childcare professionals? Be flexible while they are drowning in dirty diapers and offer to come to them. They want to see you, they do! They just have to put the kids to bed first which might actually take all night.
Give Your Spouse the Night Off
It’s not always possible or ideal for the two of you to be connecting in community together. As individuals, you still need to make your friendships a priority. I go out with my friends more often than Tony does, but we both still make sure this is a regular part of our lives. He never gives me the side-eye about going out with the girls. He will happily solo-parent for the evening… shoot, even for the weekend!… to give me the time I need to reconnect with people I care about.
Staying in community is vital. Relationships in which the couple isolates themselves from the rest of the world are far more likely to erode and end in divorce than those that stay connected in healthy community. In 2013, James Fowler from the University of California-San Diego conducted a study on divorce trends. He and his colleagues found that a supportive social structure had everything to do with a couple’s ability to weather inevitable stresses in their marriage. He says,
“Marriages endure within the context of communities of healthy relationships and within the context of social networks that encourage and support such unions.”
However you decide to do it, you need to make community a priority. Sharing your spouse with their friends, sharing your lives as a couple with those around you, and sharing your time and your home to build those relationships are all so important. You don’t need a big house or a table that seats 10 to make this happen. Great connecting is within reach even if that means you are all using paper plates and sitting together on the floor of your tiny apartment.
Make sure you don’t fall for the myth that your marriage can thrive without anyone else’s help. Make sharing your lives a priority, make dates with other couples, stay connected, and #staymarried.
The #staymarried blog was created to offer hope, stories, and resources for couples who want to stay married.
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Interested in more posts like this? You might like…
♥ My Husband is Not Enough – The 5 Key Friends We Need to #staymarried
♥ 15 Characteristics of a #staymarried Friend
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