Singled Out Even though I'm married, I still want to hang out with my single friends. DR. SCOTT HALTZMAN
Even though you have a life-long partner doesn't mean you can't have single friends too.
Why do I feel the need to constantly hang out with my single friends?
All too often, a young couple tempers their news of an impending marriage by saying: "We’ve been together so long, getting married really won’t change anything." Check in with that couple a few years later, and they’ll admit that, in fact, everything changes. One reason is because marriage leads to a shift in identity. A guy who had a girlfriend is now a "husband." A married gal is now a "wife."
One of the reasons that your spouse asks you to cut down on your time with single friends is that single people often can’t understand your new identity and the behaviors that come along with it. He or she may be afraid that they’ll influence you to do things that will take away from the time you should be spending at home.
One woman told me a tale of her new marriage to a surgical intern at a local hospital. Instead of going home at the end of the day, he’d hang with his buddies, and go to strip clubs. He was flabbergasted when she filed for divorce. "After all," he said, "all the other guys were going out, why shouldn’t I?" Being with your single friends means you form intimate closeness with men and women who aren’t part of your partner’s life, and it can lead to resentment or jealousy.
Alternatively, other married couples help model couplehood for newlyweds, and gives a balance of men and women to every social event. By staying together as a couple, you share more experiences, and have more in common.
You may not like hearing that your relationships with your lifelong friends will have to change once you get married, but they will. If you fight hard to keep things the way they always were with your old pals, you may be leaving your mate with a feeling of being left behind.
To help make sure you are part of your partner’s life, but still maintain a connection with your friends, consider the following:
Be thoughtful about how much time you spend away from home. Do you have to accept every invitation your friends offer up?
If you are going out with friends, let your mate know exactly what your plans are, and when you will be returning. Then don’t waver from your promise.
When you spend time with your pals, limit or eliminate any use of alcohol or drugs. That will help your spouse feel more comfortable about your being out and about.
Invite your mate to join you in your antics. More than likely the answer will be: no thank you. But if you do bring him or her along, it will give a strong message to your friends that things really have changed (Just like when John Lennon brought Yoko Ono along); that’s a message your partner wants to get across to them.
Things do change when you get married, and, while you can find many rewarding new friendships with married couples, you’ll still want to maintain your old friendships as well. It’s possible to do both, by paying attention to your spouse, and making sure you nurture the relationship, you’ll keep strong friendships and a strong marriage at the same time.
Dr. Haltzman is a clinical assistant professor of psychiatry at Brown University. He is the author of "The Secrets of Happily Married Men: Eight Ways to Win Your Wife’s Heart Forever." You can find Dr. Haltzman at www.DrScott.com