When we talk about how your life changes after marriage, the focus is normally on your relationship. And that’s for a good reason: You and your partner are embarking on a new stage of your lives, and that can feel like a huge shift. But that shift can have a domino effect and, in some cases, you might find the new routine ripples out, changing other areas of your life.
One area that can really be affected is your friendships. There’s this idea that when couples finally get married, they disappear into domestic bliss and are never heard from again. But is that really what happens? Does marriage really change your relationship with your friends? And are your married friends really lost forever? The answer is no…well, not necessarily. Marriage can be a transformative experience or it can barely shift a thing. It depends on the couple and their group of friends. Here’s what you have to keep in mind.
It Depends on the Pre-Marriage Relationship
One of the reasons we imagine marriage as a totally transformative experience is because, at one time, it was. Couples moved in and spent real time together for the first time—often also having sex for the first time and immediately trying to get pregnant. So of course marriage would change their entire lives, including their friendships. Even if you made a huge effort to keep up your relationships with your friends and family, it’s easy to see how getting married could change pretty much everything.
But now, many couples are essentially living married lives far before they tie the knot. If marriage is just confirming things on paper, but your whole life is already set up together, then there’s no reason that things have to change. Sure, some couples don't move in together or take those big steps until they officially say “I do,” but for most couples, their lives can stay pretty much intact.
Changes Reveal a Larger Problem
Things don't have to change, but sometimes they change anyway. There is no conceivable reason why marriage has to have an impact on your friendships. In fact, a strong marriage should involve two people who come together but maintain their separate lives—including great friendships, interesting hobbies, and time apart. But some people, for one reason or another, do find their friendships totally unable to survive their new marital status.
Why would somebody want a friendship to change because of marriage? It may be that the friendship was not really working any more, and one person wanted to call it off or let it fade away, but it normally comes from an insecurity on one or both sides. If you’ve always defined yourself by your relationship, dreamed of being a husband or wife, and feel insecure about your attachment to your partner, you may throw yourself into married life and pleasing your spouse at the expense of everything else. On the other hand, if you're single and feel insecure about not being in the relationship you want to be in and feel like all of your friends are getting married and abandoning you, you may feel resentful and start to pull back from your married friends. And sometimes, both of these things happen. So it’s not the marriage itself that’s causing the friendship to deteriorate, it’s having an unhealthy relationship with your own relationship status—and letting that impact your friendships.
You May Have to Fight for the Friendship
Because there’s such a heavy connotation on marriage—and such a pointless adversarial view on being married versus being single—it’s easy for resentments to bubble between married and unmarried friends. But it’s important to see through what is, frankly, total BS. The only reason there’s an awkwardness between being married and being single is the much larger issue—that women are judged so heavily on their relationship status. Single women wouldn’t feel self-conscious about being single when all their friends are married—and married women wouldn't feel the need to become obsessed with their relationship—if as a society we didn’t place so much of a women’s value on whether they are married or not. So if you find that your relationship status, whatever that may be, comes between you and your friend, it’s time to take a step back and have a much larger conversation about where those insecurities and resentments are coming from.
In the 21st century, there’s no reason why a friendship has to suffer because of a marriage—marriages just don't change our day-to-day that much. But, sometimes, social conditioning and societal expectations can get in the way. If you feel like getting married—or having a friend getting married—is doing something to your relationship with them, try to sit down and talk it out. Your friendship is worth fighting through those societal expectations, so have the tricky conversations and try to rise above it.