Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Tuesday Talk: You Were Here Once, Too: Maintaining Friendships with your SingleFriends -Part of the What I Wish I Knew Before I Got Married Series

I have reached that point in my life where I am clearly in a holding pattern.
 I finished college, and then grad school. I got my dream job, but it didn't work out. 
And then I got my new dream job, and that didn't work out, either. 
These days, I'm just cruising along waiting for the next big thing. 
 When you add that to the increasing numbers of my friends who are getting married and having babies (even the single, childless ones are buying houses), it starts to feel like I am left out. Everyone is moving on into "real" adulthood without me. 
Those friendships start to get strained, and I wonder if it's really true 
that married women and single women can't be friends. 

 I'll cut to the chase: married women and single women can definitely still be friends—but you're kidding yourself if you think it won't be any different. It will be. 
The reality is that friendship takes work. We're far beyond the days when being together in a playpen with blocks or in a classroom with books was enough to maintain a friendship. 
We want intentionality from the men in our lives, 
so we need to be intentional with our leading ladies.
 To help work through my thoughts and feelings about the single life, I started participating in the Not Alone Series, an online community of single, Christian women seeking to build up one another in our faith as we wait in joyful hope for whatever God has in store. 
(Some formerly-single members are now engaged!) 
Several months before I joined, the topic happened to be friendships between married and single women. Here are a few key quotations from my fellow NAS girls.
"When one of my closest friends who had been married for a bit... told me that she couldn't relate to me anymore, it stung. And I was hurt. This was one of my best friends! We had been through so much together! Now that she was married and living life differently, we had nothing in common anymore?!"
—Jen Cox, one of the co-hosts of the Not Alone Series, at Jumping in Puddles
Marriage changes your life permanently. 
Even if something terrible happens, those experiences alter your identity forever. 
But so much of what makes you you remains! You're still a dancer, a book lover, a Gilmore Girls fanatic, or whatever else sparked your friendships. If you throw all of that away, you won't be the woman your husband fell in love with anymore. 
Use this new season of life to find new ways to share experiences. 
Can your book club go co-ed? Does your main man wish he could do more than just sway on the dance floor? Plenty of activities are more fun with a crowd.
"Recognize that while your single friend might have more 'freedom' than you do, she still has a lot of real-life weight on her shoulders." —Aprille, at Beautiful In His Time
This is a pet peeve of mine. I hear it from my mostly middle-aged coworkers all the time: just replace "single" with "young." 
It is true that I don't have to pick up anyone's dirty socks off the floor. If I want to spontaneously stay out until 2 a.m. talking and drinking wine, I don't have to check plans with anyone. Yet it also means that when I need someone to have my back, I'm no one's Number One. I'm also in the "still hoping" stage of life before marriage, while my married friends have that locked down. Please don't discount single girl problems. You were here once, too. Pray for me when you're fuming because your husband didn't text you back or forgot your anniversary, and I'll pray for you. Deal?
"I’m not expressing ideas [about marriage] out of a vacuum. I’m thinking about them, processing them, researching them, and sharing them—sharing them with the person I’ve always shared ideas with... my friend whom I love." - Britt Leigh at Proverbial Girlfriend
I'm not married, but that doesn't mean I don't know anything about marriage. As a married woman, you know the most about exactly one marriage: yours. I personally used to do marriage prep (for other couples, not for myself), so I actually know much more than most never-married people. You can still talk to me about your marriage (in a totally appropriate way). I'm still the same listening ear I was after your last first date. Give me hope that what I want is worth waiting for. I'll help you stick it out when the going gets tough.
"I don’t know why, but in the past I’ve been somewhat intimidated by asking married friends to get together because I feel like I’m infringing on sacred husband/wife/family time. If you ask us to hang out, we will be less likely to feel like we are taking up valuable family time!"—Joan at Everything Is Yours
We know you'll call us to hang out when your husband isn't around and you're lonely. That's not a great call to get, but it's better than nothing. (True story.) We want to give you the space you need to maintain your marital relationship, but we definitely don't want to lose a friend! Help us out by making it clear that we are not taking away from your marriage, and that by staying friends, we're both becoming better, holier people. 
And save us some "just girls" time, too!
"Our friendship changed because our situation (ok, my situation) changed. And you know what? I think it made us value each other more. We were forced to be more intentional with connecting with each other, and I think that really grew our friendship." —Rebekah Gilley at The Contemplations of a Daughter
Bek brings us right back around to my initial recommendation. 
Be intentional in maintaining friendships between married and single friends. 
Your friendship will be different, but it can still be very good. 

 Some closing advice: Married ladies, pray for singles that they'll experience the joy that you have, and for the challenges they'll face that might be like yours. 
Make the sacrifices necessary to be more than just a wife, to also still be a friend. 
 Single sisters, pray for strong marriages among your friends. 
We need them to build our society. Make the sacrifices necessary to be second to your friend's new bestie yet still first in the girly part of her heart.
"The simple fact is that things have changed. In marriage, your spouse becomes your number one priority. It doesn’t do anyone any favors to pretend like you’ll still have time for your friends the way that you used to. Talking about the changes openly demystifies the situation, and makes it possible for you to figure out ways to keep the flame of your friendships alive."—Krizia Liquido, Verily Magazine

Lindsay is a 20-something single girl originally from Maryland and currently living in Austin, Texas. She works in an office by day and blogs by night about books, style, Jesus, and living joyfully. Read more from her at Lindsay Loves.

What's your advice for maintaining friendships between married and single ladies?
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  1. It most definately changes. I have a couple of single friends that I hang out with and now that the children are grown, it is much easier. True friendship though I believe stays through all of the changes that life throws at us. A great perspective on this subject from different points of view.

  2. AMEN!! I'm married now & expecting, but I have been through this very thing both as a single gal & a married but without kids gal. And it *sucks*! I had one friend cut me out after her wedding & another tell me "I just can't wait until you're married with babies so we can be friends again!". It was heartbreaking, to be honest & I didn't know this was a "thing" - I thought it was just me & didn't understand. I remembered crying & vowing that whenever I got married I would NOT treat my friends as strangers. And I haven't. They were my friends before my name changed and/or belly grew, and they're my friends now. I'm sorry you've had to experience that pain, too, and will join you in prayer because friendships shouldn't depend on relationship status!!

    *ahem* climbs down off soapbox ;)

  3. Thanks, guys! I've been seeing a lot of articles in Verily Magazine on this topic (and on maintaining friendships after you have kids), so I know it's not just me. I'm just choosing to look at it for what it is and pray for everyone!

  4. Oh YES, Lindsay! YES to all of this. I stand beside you, friend. I'm part of a close group of 7 friends. Six of them are married, I'm the one who is not. Four of them have children. This is a hard pill to swallow sometimes. Luckily, they all do a pretty good job of maintaining a friendship with me, but I definitely find myself longing for what they have often. Thank you for the good read!

  5. Yes, I try to make it point to reach out a connect to my single friends. Some of my closest friends are ladies I have know my whole life and I couldn't imagine not maintaining these friendships now. We try to get together every couple of months at least, outside of family gatherings. It's harder for me though because I don't have the free time most evenings after work like they might have.


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