Dr. Tarra Bates-Duford
Maintaining Friendships after Marriage
There is no denying establishing and sustaining a marital relationship is very important during the course of a marriage, however, external relationships contribute to and are important to a marriage. Having genuine friendships is a highly important element of everyone’s lives, as they can be both enhanced and enriched by giving and exchanging love and affection by others outside of partners and spouses. Marital relationships can actually suffer without social relationships and interactions. Surprisingly, the impact and strength of someone’s social connections is the biggest predictor of their general happiness. Establishing and maintaining quality friendships is beneficial to your emotional, physical and mental health. Friendships, both shared and individual, can be highly beneficial to the health of a marriage.
It is not uncommon in the first few months and even year of marriage that social friendships will need to take a back seat to the marriage or partner relationship as the relationship foundation is being built. Once a marital or couple relationship is built it makes sense that friendships will suffer, which can range from mild to severe. The change in friendships typically stems from a change is priorities, as well as other personal, marital, and familial obligations. However, one thing is certain, spouses and partners need relationships outside of their marital and romantic relationship.
Here are some of the benefits of maintaining friendships throughout your marriage or intimate relationship:
Having external friendships provides an additional outlet for couples to express frustrations, receive support, provide companionship for situations, interests, and events one’s partner may not be interested in, as well as take the pressure off of the couple relationship. Having the support of friends means that you and your spouse aren’t relying on each other to meet each other’s every emotional needs all of the time.
Having a genuine friendship outside of the marriage or relationship is beneficial to mental and emotional health, therefore having additional support can actually aid couples coping with and working through marriage/relationship problems.
Friendships allows outlets for venting and confiding in someone other than a spouse or partner. Although, it may be surprising to believe and understand there are going to be times when our spouse is not the best person to help with a particular problem, as they just like you may be too close to the problem to see and manage it objectively.
Friends offer a new take or perspective on our lives. Friends can provide objectivity, new and creative thoughts, experiences, etc. Friends can also create and encourage opportunities to garner new experiences, explore one’s creative side, and face challenges that can be viewed differently from a friends prospective.