• Keeping Friends

Friendships change when you are married

December 26, 2014 | By | 8 Replies Continue Reading

A reader’s first-person account about the challenges of keeping friends when you are married and she’s not.

​Everyone always talks about how hard it is being single and feeling like a third wheel around married friends. This may very well be true in your 20s and 30s. However, once the 40s hit, divorces start and the challenges change. The current divorce rate for first time marriages is estimated at 40-50%, with subsequent marriages running higher. I have watched many divorces go down over the last decade, running the spectrum from amicable to 5-star ugly. As a result of this, I have a lot of divorced friends.

When I hit my 40s and my friends started divorcing, I started to feel left out. I was often not invited to outings because I was still married. Maybe they thought I was too busy with my husband. In any case, with everyone on Facebook, it’s especially hard to see these fun events go down and feel left out.

With my kids off in college and my parents no longer living, even though I now work a full time job, I have more free time than I’ve seen since my 20s. My husband and I just celebrated our 25th anniversary. One of the things I attribute to us “beating the odds” is that we’ve never been joined at the hip. Since we were married, we’ve both always pursued our own friendships and interests. I’ve traveled on my own to visit out of town friends (some the result of internet borne friendships).  My hubby has also traveled himself. We do plenty together but we both have our own lives.

One thing I do make an effort to do is spend Saturday night with my husband. It just seems like not the time to ditch him. Of course, I have on occasion attended a special outing, like a bachelorette party or a special girls’ night out with an out-of-town high school friend, but overall I try to make “we” plans on Saturday night.  Sometimes I’ve tried to make plans with one of my divorced friends and they are not receptive to including him and I’m relegated to “lunch” or a quick Starbucks interrupted by texts and phone calls about their “real plans” that evening. I’m often home with my husband on Saturday night with nothing to do because we don’t get included. Even when a group of high school friends, male and female, get together, if they are divorced, we don’t get included. Believe it or not, it can be lonely being married! Yes, I know I’m fortunate to have my husband but I like to socialize with others too. My solution has been to focus on my married friends, which makes me a little sad because it also results in more distance between me and my once close, now divorced friends.

When I was planning the seating for a large party, I had two divorced friends attending without “plus-ones.”  I sat them together, thinking they would hit it off. They sure did!  They hit it off so well, they started making plans without me and I had to watch it all go down on Facebook. It was like I became invisible.

Another issue I’ve come across is that any type of problem or crisis I may experience is negated by the fact that I’m married. It hurts to reach out to friends for support, when I’ve been there for them and to be dismissed. I sometimes sense jealousy too, like my life must be perfect, just because I’m married. Anyone who really know me, knows this is far from the truth. I have had my fair share of heartbreak and stress, just like anyone else. It’s also my observation that once you hit middle age “stuff happens.” Everyone experiences stuff like illnesses, deaths, etc. and needs support when it happens. Often girlfriends just “get it” more than a husband does, and that’s why we need other women front and center to help us through the tough times.

After writing this, I took stock and realized that my closest friends have long time marriages, just like me. This is most likely due to the fact that we have the most in common. Interestingly one of my divorced friends has been a friend since kindergarten. She was one of my besties in grade school and my BFF in high school and college. She’s a friend for life but our lifestyles have become quite different and we don’t share the same interests, which has resulted in a casual friendship that feels much different from the intimate, share everything, relationship we had growing up.

-Pamela

Any one else have trouble connecting with divorced or single friends because she/he is married?

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Category: KEEPING FRIENDS

Comments (8)

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  1. LaTrice says:

    My best friend is getting married in a couple of weeks, and hopefully, our friendship will remain the same. I’m NOT getting married anytime soon-or maybe NEVER, but I refuse to spend the rest of my life with someone who doesn’t respect me. She told me to keep my heart open, and good things will come along.

    I did ask my best friend to be my Matron of Honor when I get married someday. 🙂

  2. Amanda says:

    Hi, Pamela

    Perhaps I am unclear on the exact circumstances here, but do your divorced female friends only get together on Saturday nights? If so, couldn’t you occasionally spend Friday night with your husband and Saturday night with them? Like the first Saturday of the month or something. Since you say that you and your husband retain your own friends and interests, this is presumably something that he would be agreeable to — he could arrange a corresponding monthly night out with the guys. I agree with Deidre that bringing your husband to a get together that solely consists of divorced females is not appropriate and, quite frankly, I can’t imagine he’d even want to go. You should save that for your couple friends, in my opinion.

  3. Bizzy says:

    Cyndi,

    It seems you hold yourself up as better than others? At least that is what I am getting from your post. Maybe that is your problem with connecting with others, not that you are cosmopolitan.

  4. Deidre says:

    Interesting topic.
    Yes it seems that some people want to be friends only with those like them rather than with friendly people who come from a variety of living arrangements. I’m part of a couple however my partner rarely to never comes along with me to social things so I go alone (we now rarely go out together at all). Other couples find this strange constantly asking why he doesn’t come and not being willing to accept my answer that he’s not social and I’m more than happy to come on my own (I’m of an age group where we’re past the canoodling couples thing so does it matter that there’s 1 more woman than man there). So then I stop being invited. However single people see me as part of a couple and possibly not interested in coming out alone with them.
    Pamela I assume that you’ve already told your divorced friends that you do wish to be social and be included on their get togethers. And you’ve also told them that if it’s on a Saturday evening your husband would like to come too as that’s your socialising together. I can’t see what the problem would be in bringing your husband if it’s a mixed female and male get together even if the others are single or divorced but could see that if it’s a female only get together then any male coming along wouldn’t be appropriate. So unless you openly wish to say that you’re hurt that you’re not being included it sounds like there’s not a great deal more you can do.
    It does sounds like you have some good married female friends and thus try to see the divorced friends that leave you out as at this stage of life not being as close and thus not prioritising them as being as important as those who are close.

  5. Amy F says:

    Sounds like you’re in a pretty content place in your life.
    When I was in my 20s and early 30s, I always felt out of sync with my friends. I didn’t yet realize change throughout the lifecycle, no matter which stage. We’re just more aware when the changes affect us. Sometimes we’re the change, sometimes it’s the other person or a little bit of both. In college I was pushing to graduate early while working full time, my friends were partying. After college, I worked overtime to advance in my career, they went to discos. Then I went back to grad school while my friends concentrated on their careers and love lives. They got married and started having kids, while I wrote my dissertation. When they started divorcing, I had single friends again.
    Somewhere along the line, I developed a more eclectic set of friends, different backgrounds, some old, others new. With a heterogeneous group of friends, chances are someone is in or has been in the same place as me and can offer wisdom, just like I can to them if needed.
    Like your marriage, the healthiest most successful ones I’ve seen where couples have their own interests and friends, and also shared interest with their partner. I haven’t thought being married was easier, except when I lock myself out or I need to clean. I think marriage is so much harder than being single. When I had breast cancer I knew I was luckier not to have to worry about a partner’s feelings about my cancer, I only had to take care of me. I saw my married friends feel pressured, let down, or fearful about their flat chest or new breasts. I didn’t have to,
    My most content friends don’t think the grass is greener, a couple of the less healthy ones sometimes or always feel life isn’t fair or everyone has an easier life. At 50 that gets old real fast.

  6. cyndi says:

    I am divorced and have been for over 18 years. I am 50 and have not been married or in a serious relationship since. I have an Autistic son and all my time was spent tending to his needs. My son is now 18 and I and my ex husband helps a great deal with him. I have been on the other end of your spectrum. I currently live in a town where I have no connections with anyone, it is all about who went to HS with who and who grew up in the same neighborhoods, all of the connections are childhood connections and women are narrow minded. I see a lot of cliques and behavior that is reminiscent to High School. I am from NYC and I live in Cheyenne Wyoming, not my ideal place. I am unhappy here, I am used to being in a City where there is plenty to do and where women are more interested in upward mobility than who they will be walking down the isles with, we are more career driven and goal oriented. I work out and take care of my appearance and that seems to put women here off, I really could care less because I am not into petty jealousy from women who have nothing better to do in their lives. I am the divorced woman who gets the evil eye when I walk into a room or a party. My sister ins laws are married and they also get the same looks from other married women, beautiful educated and successful and that is not the norm here in Cheyenne. We all hit the gym and meet like minded women, that is where I feel comfortable. My ex husband tells me all the time that my education and my looks intimidate women in this town and they are jealous. My ex husband and I are best friends again and we hang out more divorced than we did when we were married, I am not the kind of woman who like you needs to be joined at the hip, I need my space and so does he. I am a cosmopolitan type and he is more laid back and into Camping and things I just do not care for. The dynamics of a friendship change when divorce happens. I am divorced and I find that married women are less likely to approach me as a friend, my best friend who is also divorced has dealt with the same issues, she is successful and stunning, her married friends have let themselves go and rely solely on their husbands, a bit of jealous for her success and the fact that she looks young and keeps herself in shape, jealous goes both ways when once married friends become single or single women who have never been married enter a room.

    • Pamela says:

      Hi Cyndi,

      Please note, I indicated my husband and are *not* joined at the hip and we have our own friends and our own interests.

      Regards,

      Pamela

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