#8 – Friendships
Can you imagine a vineyard owner who worked hard all year to produce great wine that he never enjoyed himself? He painstakingly goes through all the necessary steps to make a great product and gives it all away. This would be absurd, but many marriages do it; they give their best away to others leaving their spouse thirsty and alone.
This might sound extreme, but friendships can be detrimental to your marriage if they are given a higher priority than your spouse.
With husbands it can look like this:
- Hanging out with the guys.
- Watching/playing sports
- Time at the gym working out
- Jamming with the band
- Video games, esp. all nighters!
- Playing pool or darts at the local sports bar
- Gaming on the computer with your buds
- Working late with colleagues
You’ll notice all the husband’s friendships revolve around things they enjoy DOING together. There’s a camaraderie which develops over years as friends. It can become cliquish leaving his wife to simply join in by providing snacks, if she doesn’t enjoy the activity, or playing/going along in order to be with her husband. Once children arrive in the family this becomes harder and harder to do and the marriage is set adrift.
With wives it can look like this:
- Talking with girlfriends on the phone, computer, or texting
- Going shopping together – and talking
- Book clubs – to talk about what they’ve read
- Spa days – to be pampered and catch up
- sScrapbooking – reminiscing about the pictures their cropping
- Play days at the park – where the children play, while the moms talk
- Going to the gym to work out
You’ll notice all the wife’s activities revolve around relationship. They do things together, but for the purpose of connecting through conversation. They enjoy TALKING. The level of regular, heart-felt conversation between girlfriends can be difficult for a husband to understand, much less participate.
These differences are usually most obvious in the first few years of marriage. It is hard for the husband to let go of priorities he had as a single. It is hard for the wife to let go as well. We’re not saying friendships are bad – they simply must be moved to the back burner, so to speak, so the marriage can be front and center in the mind and heart of both husband and wife.
When we were first married, Tom lived in Bradenton, FL. I moved from all my family and friends in Orlando to a new city, a new home, a new husband and nothing familiar. It was hard, and I was so very homesick. We agreed for the first year of our marriage we would take on no outside commitments. We wanted to have undistracted time in order to adjust to being US. We had no idea how this would form the strong foundation we have today. God knew this was exactly what we needed to set a new precedent, a new normal in our life as husband and wife. It was hard, but so good!
How about your marriage?
Does your spouse know without a doubt that they are your highest priority? Or have other relationships filled in the spaces which should be reserved for them alone? The best way to find out is to ask your spouse. Here are a few questions to consider:
- Do you feel I make you my highest priority?
- In what ways could I improve in this area?
- What do I do that communicates how important you are to me?
- How do you see my friendships? Healthy or unhealthy?
- What activities do you wish I didn’t do so much?
- What friendships, if any, do you think are not good for me – for us?
Let these be a springboard for taking an honest assessment of your relationship. There are no right and wrong ways. Each marriage is uniquely different, so you must determine what’s best for your vineyard together. Just be sure you aren’t giving your best away – no vineyard could survive such a practice! And besides – you don’t know what you’re missing until you take that first sip!