“What’s it like to be married? Does it feel different?” My unmarried friends used to ask me these questions as I was among the first of my friends to take the plunge. Both my wife and I had anticipated our wedding day for many years. We’d dreamed about it since we were young — well, she probably dreamed about it a little more than me.
People told us everything would change once we got married. In many ways things did, but I was surprised by how much things felt the same. I mean, we were the same people with the same personalities, doing the same things we had done for years — except we had a title.
Don’t get me wrong, getting married is as wonderful and special as many imagine it will be, but this doesn’t change who you are. And it doesn’t have to change the basis of your friendships. You are still the same person who snuck out at night with your buddies and got arrested for stealing a “For Sale” signs (true story); you’re still the same person who created years of memories with good friends.
Getting married does not make those things go away, and it doesn’t stop you from creating new memories.
Undoubtedly, your priorities significantly shift once you get married. But every couple needs a different level of quality time to maintain a healthy marriage. Some are content with spending one night together as a couple each week, while others need three or four nights. This creates different levels of what’s acceptable for hanging out with friends.
Between you and your spouse
The key: Communicating about the amount of time you and your spouse need together to keep each other happy. Build boundaries to protect this time. Then you can continue to invest in friendships, hobbies, and other pursuits with the remaining time.
You may not have as much time to spend with friends, but remember it’s quality over quantity. Be intentional about the time you do have, and try to make the most of it. Instead of killing a free night doing nothing with your buddies, plan something fun and make a memory. Great friendships are worth keeping. But they require effort to maintain and grow.
Between you and your friends
In the same way it’s important to communicate your needs with your spouse, you also need to be clear with your friends — married and unmarried — about what you need from your friendships. The best way to do this, in my opinion, is to be the friend you want your friend to be to you. If you want to talk to your friend often, call or text them more. If you want to get tickets to a ball game and go together, do it. Model what friendship looks like to you and over time it will be reciprocated.
Marriage doesn’t have to disrupt great friendships. Great friendships can get even better after marriage.
My friends and I have not been able to spend as much time together as we did before many of us got married (and had kids — a conversation for another day). But the quality time we spend together allows the friendships to grow stronger. Plus, when those single friends start to get married, you can become “couple friends,” which will take your friendship to a whole new level. You can spend more time with both your friends and your spouse — win-win!
By Mitch Reinholt
How have you maintained your friendships after marriage entered the picture?