Are married friends that important to a newlywed (or oldie) couple?
To answer the question, let me share my story.
Here is a closeup shot of my face, on the evening of my wedding.
Happy. Adored. Excited. Blissfull.
And of course, exhausted. Utterly depleted.
To my left is my best maid, and she’s adjusting my beautiful gown around my feet. We are squeezed in the back of a car, and a friend is dropping hubby and I off at our honeymoon hotel.
Prettier-looking pictures exist in my wedding album.
This one conveys the reality of marriage.
You come in all made up, excited and dreamy. Then as the day wears on, stuff begins to fall off. Makeup. Energy.
Other things pile on – stains on your sparkling dress from all the walking and dancing, spots from the hugs and kisses. Weariness from all the smiling and adrenaline.
The wedding day is wondrous, but it’s also exhausting. Things don’t always go as planned but we’ve worked so hard for the day, and we choose to enjoy it anyway.
The expectations are grander. And a few days, weeks, months and years in, things begin to shift and turn, just as they did on the wedding day.
He messes up. You get upset. You feel overwhelmed. There are stains and strains everywhere.
Even when marriage feels right, you still have your moments. You wonder “do marriages still hurt even when we are doing it right or should you bail out?”
Back to us…
It’s been a little over ten years since the picture was taken and looking at my chicken-pox ravaged, (yep I contracted chicken pox a few days to my wedding!) but happy self, I smile.
Because back then, I thought contracting chicken pox three days to her wedding day is the worst thing that can happen to a new bride. (And it was terrible)
But now I think the worst thing that can happen to a new bride and groom is being alone: starting your married life alone.
At the end of our wedding day, my husband and I were not alone. Literally, our friends dropped us off at the hotel.
They stuck with me through the emotional downs – they reminded me I looked great even when my skin was splitting; they rubbed my itches and made me feel normal.
After the wedding, we kept each other accountable. We laughed, we grew, we stretched each other as couples.
Even more critical our mentors, who happened to be our pastors and wedding officiants walked closely with us for the first three years of marriage.
A lot of couples take off from their wedding day and leave everybody behind.
Literally, they have no one by their side on this side of the altar.
Everyone congregated around them when they got engaged. People showed up and celebrated their wedding. But the community died soon after “I do.”
Yet it’s in marriage when we need community the most.
Someone said “new brides cry a lot” and I took offense because I thought she was being negative. But it turned out she was right. I cried a lot as a new bride.
I cried because the whole two-becoming-one thing was new and frustrating. No one tells you how frustrating dying to yourself really is. Oh, they try. But nothing comes close to the real thing.
(And I guess the more hardheaded you are, the bigger the spectacle)
In those frustrating moments, you feel alone and misunderstood. And without kindred spirits, people who are walking your way, you just drown in your sorrows and fears.
Married couples need married friends because
1. Married friends keep you sane
“True friendship is when you walk into their house and your WiFi connects automatically.“ Uknown
They are like a pressure valve – they keep you balanced and sane when you want to throw in the towel.
Some of the best times we have had with other married couples were when our buddies didn’t even know all the details of our issues. But their presence eased our tension and helped us feel like the world wasn’t ending after all.
2. Married friends make you wise
Proverbs 27:17 As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.
Every time I have grown or taken a leap of faith, I can look back and see someone or something that challenged me to be better. We rarely change without some sort of outside stimulus.
It can be a life experience, a dream, a people, a situation, that inspired us to reach for more. Some of us call it “life” but what we don’t realize is that “life” stacks up opportunities to help us change and grow.
The last two months, I’ve had the privilege of meeting with a small group of women to talk about marriage.
It started as a single event, called “Intimate Conversations” and my goal was to get women together to talk about marriage, learn new approaches to relationships and implement changes so our unions can thrive.
The two meetings have challenged me to be a better person and a better wife.
I have learned from these ladies experiences, hopes, and dreams. I’ve had plenty of ahas as we’ve spent hours talking, writing down and sharing thoughts on how to grow.
It takes a village (or a villager). And blessed is the couple that builds theirs.
But Ngina, where’s the time? We just don’t have time to find or create such relationships!
You are right. It takes effort and time. But what’s the alternative here? Isn’t your marriage worth some time and effort?
We always make time for what matters to us. So make time instead of waiting for time to magically appear.
By the way, you don’t have to be bosom buddies who hang out every week (all though that would be awesome!) Just start somewhere. Are you available one Saturday evening a month? Then start there.
But my husband doesn’t like community. I’ve tried to get him involved, and he’s not that type of a person, he always resists my effort.
Well, first you need to read these two post on how men connect and relate. Dudes are different.
Second, if your husband isn’t currently inclined to meet others, and instead of waiting until he comes around, go out and meet with a girlfriend and have some fun.
Take care of yourself, so you have some life to pour back to your relationship.
Okay, I hear what you are saying, and we’d love to have married friends. But they don’t exist at our church. We’ve approached a few couples for friendships and mentoring, but we’ve been brushed off; not many people seem interested.
Let me propose a radical idea – if you can’t find a village, maybe you need to create one.
That’s what Marissa and Joseph did.
“Nobody told me how difficult it would be to establish a village of Christian married couples. Throw in “young” or “millennial,” and it becomes more challenging.
I knew I was among the first of my high-school and college friends, line sisters, and immediate family to marry, but didn’t realize the hard work that I would have to put in to find and build a village that could support, encourage and help me (us) maneuver through the marriage journey.
But, in late 2016, I woke up one morning and the Lord placed on my heart to CREATE one not just for me, but for other 20s and 30s in my shoes.” Joseph and Marrisa – Forever Marriages
It takes a village (or villager!) And blessed is the couple that finds and builds theirs!
Your turn – Do you have married friends? How have you benefited/added to the friendship? Do you find it hard to connect with others and how do you go about creating new connections?
Are you wrestling with the overwhelm of new marriage and want a topic-by-topic guide on how to kick out fussing, anger, passive-aggressiveness from your relationship? Want to restore joy, healing and happiness to your marriage? Or maybe you just want to love better, create the marriage of your dreams, God’s way. Your marriage can change! Get on the road to a great marriage when you pick up my book Blues to Bliss: Creating Your Happily Ever After in the Early Years ->Amazon I Barnes & Noble I PDF