I was joking with friend the other day about wedding reception slide shows. You know the scene right? You walk in to the reception and there’s a picture slide show with all sorts of pics of the bride’s and groom’s life. There are the baby pictures, the little kid pictures, the awkward middle school picture that everyone laughs at, and then there are the high school pictures (if the couple is younger – usually there’s an emphasis on the sport they played or something to that effect) and then finally the pictures of them together. It’s like their life story in photos. Now I know that the point is to show their life so far and now they are together (at least I think that’s the point – I’ve never put one of these things together).
There are only two other places you see a slide show like this. Graduation parties and funerals. Here’s the thing – they got married. They aren’t leaving. They’re still here. But often times it seems like they left. Think about the toasts at these weddings. The best man and maid of honor get up and talk about how great life “has been”. Now the good toasts talk about the future together etc, but at a lot of weddings it’s treated more like the end of something than the beginning of something.
This is crazy of course. When you get married you have not “arrived”. For heaven’s sake you haven’t even started to arrive. You are really just beginning a journey together. Yes the whole situation and context is changed forever but it’s not time to disappear.
I’ve heard many single people say things like, “We were friends but then they got married,” and I’ve heard married people tell me that they got married and then all their single friends stopped calling them. This is not helpful. Marriage changes the dynamics but too many friends separate when they get married. That’s not friendship and frankly in most cases it’s not a good idea. You should be focussed on your new marriage but if you disappear then you can easily become isolated as a couple. And guess what – couples need community too.
There is plenty of blame to go around here. Most of it is a lack of communication. Single and married people need to not abandon their friendships – which leads to everyone being lonely – instead they need to work on their friendships within the new context of marriage.
Here’s the key – don’t make assumptions. If you are single and your friends get married – give them a couple of weeks obviously, but call them. Remember how you used to grab lunch – guess what your friend who is now married still eats. Married people, don’t become completely marriage absorbed. The world doesn’t all of a sudden revolve around your marital bliss. We need to talk a lot more about how we can be in community together as marrieds and singles but it starts with getting rid of the premise that we are automatically separated.
Do you have a friend who you haven’t talked to in a while since your or their marital status changed? Have you reached out? Lately? Really?
So true! I am one of those single people that have said “I used to hangout with them, but then they got married”. Thanks man good stuff!
Some might argue with your headline 🙂 Seems like the question comes down to where you place your identity. Is my identity in my marital status or in my desire to follow Jesus and everything that flows from there. Also, why and how has marital status become an “identity”? Interesting to think about. Thanks for the great posts!
I think SOME married people just become hermits. 🙂 JK
I got married in my late 20’s and have now been married for 5 years so I have some experience on both sides. When I was single some of my best friends were married and now that I am married some of my best friends are single. It really comes down to 2 things. First communicate. Being married or not never stopped me from calling anyone. If they don’t call you back that is on them…but really that is just life. In general people are afraid, lazy or to self absorbed to initiate. So pick up your phone and call…and don’t send an email or text that is lame.
Second if you are married, make your home welcoming to single people. Here are some examples of what was welcoming to me when I was single and try to live out now.
Don’t sit on each other’s lap, be all touchy feely with each other, etc. Your single friend already knows you are getting laid and they are not…don’t flaunt it.
Drink out of your own glasses. You are married not poor or uncapable of washing more than one dish.
Talk about things other than being married, your kids, or being married with kids.
Don’t ever say this would be perfect if you had someone or I can’t wait for you to get married so we can do couple stuff together.
If you don’t do any of those things after you invite your single friend over, then they will come back.
But they are not going to come over if you don’t invite them.
Can I add don’t disparage your spouse to your single friends. You would be surprised how often this happens – whether “in jest” or not. Don’t assume because I’m single that I’m angry at the other sex. Quite the opposite. That’s what makes it so hard to choose…kidding. So, what can singles do to make marrieds feel comfortable? Besides get married, of course.
I’m sorry if we ever offended you by sharing a glass of water.
Do single folks ever invite married folks to come over and hang out?
I have always been sort of flabbergasted at people who say, “Now that I’m married I have nothing in common with my single friends anymore.” It leads me to believe they maybe weren’t such good friends to begin with. My friends are my friends and I don’t tend to think of them in categories of married/single/kids/no kids. Deeper friendships can endure life’s changes, but you do have to be intentional about it.
In reflect on Ruth’s post, and thinking about the whole issue a little more, I think one factor that plays in here is the factor of intimacy. By intimacy I mean “closeness.” When two folks get married (or start dating, for that matter), they start to satisfy each other’s need for intimacy more and more. This is as it should be, and is important to marital growth. But our bucket of time/intimacy/energy is only so big. The result is that intimacy-efforts that once went to other friends now more and more go to a spouse.
The married guy/gal has two choices here. One is to leave his or her friends in the dust. That is unhealthy for everyone concerned, because our friends have a lot to do with how rich our lives can be — both by what everyone gives and by what everyone receives. I’d feel sorry for my wife if I was the only one sowing into her life, or my life was the only one in which she was investing.
The other choice is to enlarge our buckets.
Just one question what if those friends you’re mentioning are the opposite sex?
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