No Time For Friends After Marriage?

Ahaaa. I’m purposively going to touch on a sensitive topic today. After all, why name my blog “Mai Breaks the Ice” if I’m not going to break the ice, right?

I am not by any means the first to marry among my groups of friends. I wasn’t the first among my APB friends. Nor my Tunku Scholar friends. Nor my Sheffield friends. By the time I got married, quite a number of my friends already have one (or two!) kids already. And, sadly, this also meant that I had friends who, right after marriage, seemed to completely disappear and I never saw them again after the wedding.

This became a topic among me and my single friends back then. I’d be lying if I said that I personally did not feel the tiniest bit of resentment that some really close friendships ended when the knot of marriage was tied. To me, my thought was, shouldn’t marriage lead me to gain more friends? I would befriend any of my friends’ spouses after all, and I’m all for family days and gatherings and such.

So of course, when I started to get to know my now-husband, I brought the topic up.

I told him of my lifestyle. How active I was with the Tunku Scholars, and how I loved my girl’s day out with my best friends. How my girl’s day out usually involves just hanging out at a restaurant talking about too many topics rather than going shopping (because none of my friends are the shopping, materialistic type, books excluded). I asked my now-husband then, what his expectations were after we got married. And I also told him of my expectations – that friendships are important to me, and I still wanted to join my NGO activities and hang out occasionally with my close friends after marriage.

More importantly, I told him that I wanted him to maintain his friendships too, and that I did not expect him to always be at home – I wanted him to hang out with his friends, too.

My husband agreed for me to see my friends on the occasional basis, like once a month (though our schedules are so busy now that even once a month is challenging to meet up). I also have a curfew now, which is no problem as I had a curfew when I was living with my parents. I understood that after marriage, our weekends would be so much busier, as now we needed to split our time for each other, both our families, and our friends’ events like weddings and baby showers. Yet after marriage, my husband was true to his word. When I have a free day, I still join activities with friends, and I still have the girl’s day out to catch up with my friends.

The interesting is that before I got married, I received quite a number of pep talks that “marriage life won’t be the same as single life” and that my life should be “focused solely on the husband and family”. But in reality – in my reality – this isn’t the case at all. Sure, my husband is now the most important person to me. And I love both our families. And any family activity always takes priority over any other activity. But it doesn’t mean I couldn’t spare a day for my friends.

There’s this ‘expectation’, I think especially among the Malays, that once you become a wife, you need to be devoted to the husband and family totally and absolutely, 24/7, 365 days a year. But frankly, it’s actually healthy to spend some time with friends, away from the spouse and family, every once in a while. Just how it’s extremely healthy for a husband and wife to have dates without the kids every now and then. It’s just another way to establish yourself as a person, separate from any other role you hold like being a wife, mother, sibling, daughter.

We humans are social creatures, and everyone in our lives play a different role for us. If I had a bad day and wanted to rant, I’d talk to my husband. But if I started to feel anxious about preparing for the baby’s arrival, I’d feel more comfortable talking to my friends who are already mommies themselves. 

I don’t think there’s such a thing as having no more time for friends after marriage. There’s 365 days in a year. Even two days, once every six months, is plenty to meet up with friend, like how it is with me and the Sheffield family, where we meet so rarely but at least we still spared the time to meet. No. I believe that finding time for friends, on top of the spouse, family and kids, is a choice, and it is a healthy choice. It means you still have an identity that is you, and only you. 

Of course, if you have a spouse who blatantly won’t let you see any of your friends anymore after marriage, this would be a different story (and warrants a completely different post altogether). The point is that there needs to be an agreement with the spouse. And there needs to be an understanding, both from the spouse and from the friends, that life won’t be exactly the same anymore after marriage. It doesn’t mean you need to choose only one between family and friends. It just means there needs to be some creative adjustment to make both work.

Here are some tips which have worked for me in my marriage so far:

  • Bring this topic up before marriage so you know each other’s expectations.
  • Communicate, communicate, communicate. Seriously, you’re going to live with your spouse your entire life. Work things out early in marriage and always double-check to see if things have changed.
  • Adjust according to your lifestyle. If I used to hang out with my friends from 11am until 8pm in the past, now I know I realistically can only do 1pm to 6pm now.
  • Don’t neglect your duties. My husband’s happy for me to meet my friends, but he does ask that I cook for him first before I go.
  • Clarify the boundaries. I know 7pm is the cap, so I’ll always leave to arrive home by 6pm. Don’t purposefully push the limit. Show your spouse you truly respect the boundaries.
  • Bring your spouse to meet your friends (and meet your spouse’s friends, too!). As in the picture, I once had a cycling day with my husband and best friend. And my husband loves my Tunku Scholar friends. Introducing your friends to your spouse is just a nice way to further connect. Don’t have the “My friends are mine, your friends are yours” mentality. Just don’t.
  • Thank your spouse. Seriously. I think we face a severe lack of saying thank you to our spouses on a daily basis to show appreciation.

In any case, this post does not apply to everyone, of course. I have friends who, even when single, did not have the time to meet up because they’re so family-oriented. And that’s okay. But I still hope I won’t lose any of my close friends especially once they get married. Marriage should be celebrated before and after the wedding, and friendships do matter – they’ll probably matter much, much more the older you get.

Anyhow, those are the two cents from a Mai. If you have your own views, feel free to share, as I always love to hear different views.

Thanks for reading!

Maibreakstheice is a blog where I like to tackle life questions through my personal experiences and, where applicable, through my knowledge as a graduate in family counselling. Keep your eye out for updates every Tuesday, or subscribe via email to receive updates straight to your mailbox!

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