OK, so this post is somewhat unrelated to music – and yet, I am posting it on my website that was meant to be for music. Keep reading, and I’ll make a connection here…maybe.
After getting married, I still kept up with my previous activities of spending time with girlfriends, spring-breaking, going for drinks, and other weekend activities that single women normally do. My husband is very reasonable, and never gave me a hard time about going out or occasionally leaving him leftovers instead of a fancy dinner. He also never minds when I go to hear live music or play my own gigs.
Why is it so difficult to maintain friendships after marriage, then? I must admit that some friendships have been easier to maintain than others. I’ve read on so many websites that married couples exclude other people from their lives in an effort to spend all of their time with each other. While this may be true for some relationships, it certainly isn’t the case with my husband and I. We like spending time together, but I’ve never canceled a girl’s-night-out just because I couldn’t bear to be away from him for an evening. Also, upon reading other articles about the difficulty of keeping friends after marriage, I’ve found that many of these postings were written by the single friend. While it was nice to get a deeper understanding of how the friend on the other side of the relationship may feel, some of the assumptions aren’t true – and there seems to be a lack of understanding about the married friend’s situation.
Firstly, there is an issue of finances. There comes a time in a marriage where accounts become joined and incomes become jointly used. That means that when I teach a piano lesson and leave the cash on the kitchen table, my husband is free to take it and use it. It also means that if I go to a restaurant with a girlfriend and pay for my meal with the debit card, that comes out of our joint account. For some couples, finances can be a topic of argument. This has never been a problem for my husband and I because we are both very honest about what we’ve spent while out, and we both limit our spending so as not to make anyone feel taken advantage of. BUT, just because my hubby doesn’t give me a hard time about spending doesn’t mean that I want to make it into a topic of argument by spending a lot of money while I am out with a girlfriend!
Besides that, the bills must be paid! Over time, married couples typically build assets together – and those assets mean an increase in bills. If you purchase a house together, there’s a mortgage to pay. If you purchase a car together, there’s a car payment. If you just finished college, it’s time to pay off the Stafford loans.
What all of this means for friends is this…if we have to go somewhere expensive every time we go out, we won’t be able to go out together very often. It has nothing to do with the desire to stay at home with my beloved. If you’re a friend who is under the assumption that I can easily cover the bill since my husband has a decent job…well, chances are I just can’t afford you as a friend.
Another complaint that I’ve seen on websites is that married women are “always talking about their relationship” or “always talking about their pregnancy”. This sounds like a jealousy issue to me. When my single friends get engaged, I am more than happy to talk about their upcoming wedding…it’s an exciting time! When a friend meets a new guy and is head-over-heels in love, I have no problem spending a great deal of time talking and finding out about this guy that has stolen my friend’s heart. But if I want to talk about my prenatal exams or the side effects of pregnancy while I’m 8 or 9 months pregnant, some friends give me a feeling of withdrawal. That isn’t always the case. I have friends who ask questions about the pregnancy and enjoy letting me share my latest stories…but for the friends that need me to spend an entire evening focused on them…it’s a bit draining.
Lastly, be aware that plans can change. When you’re single you have much more control over your schedule and can make more solid plans without having to consult with a spouse. When you share a vehicle with your husband and are busy with other projects, the possibility of cancellation greatly increases. If I back out of something important…a wedding, a gig…you can be upset. But if I have to cancel a dinner date because I’m exhausted, don’t have the car, or I don’t feel like dropping the cash…suck it up.