Our Chosen Family

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“BE CAREFUL NOT TO DISMISS THE NEED FOR INVESTING IN FRIENDSHIPS THROUGHOUT THE PURSUIT OF YOUR DREAM MARRIAGE.”

I could’ve sworn I had it all figured out. The core crew of lifelong friends, the dreamy new spouse, the serenely intimate wedding in the woods. Turns out, somewhere along the way, that strand of magical wholeness got tangled … really tangled. And by the time I got around to attempt the loosening of the knots, there was fraying, there was brokenness, and there was disunity.

In the midst of planning my dream wedding and preparing for my dream marriage, I let my friendships fall to the wayside. It wasn’t intentional. But that’s where I went wrong. Nothing was intentional. I wasn’t intentional about reaching out. I wasn’t intentional about communicating where I was at on my journey. I wasn’t intentional about keeping those friendships solid and connected. With an exciting new season of marriage shifting everything around, it’s so easy to focus on all of the shiny new things. Heck, it’s easy to feel like you don’t even have any extra time or energy for other things when there is so much transition going on. You’re building a home, a marriage, a new life, and you want to give those things your all. Of course you do.

Not to mention, with messages swirling around about how difficult marriage can be and the turbulence that can occur within that first year, of course it’s instinctual to put those blinders on and go into full-time marriage nurturing. However, you have to be careful not to dismiss the need for investing in friendships throughout the pursuit of your dream marriage. You have to be careful not to make the same mistake that I did.

I allowed my participation in friendships to slip into autopilot mode, assuming that growth would continue simply because we were friends.

As a highly independent introvert, I didn’t think twice about my frequent disengagement or absence. But the point that I painfully missed was that growth within friendship cannot and will not happen without intentional connection.

Today, over two years into my marriage, I am still picking up the pieces of fragmented friendships. I am still grieving the loss of people whom I thought would be in my life forever. I’m being gracious with myself as I face moments of loneliness and consequential guilt. I’m also being smarter as I reach out to form new connections, trusting that with new seasons come new opportunities to implement my lessons learned and build connectedness once again. When it comes to friendships, we so often know where we want to end up. We paint pictures in our minds of weekly summer cookouts and yearly road trips and late-night phone calls of solidarity. However, we fail to lay down the individual stepping stones to get there, and then feel defeated and unworthy and victimised when that portrait of friendship never comes to life.

There are a few things that you must do to take responsibility for investing in connected friendships as a newlywed. First and foremost, you have to initiate plans. As a newlywed, you might experience moments of radio silence from your friends, most likely because they are also adjusting to this shift in your life and don’t want to bother you. When friends don’t reach out, rather than taking it personally and assuming the worst, initiate! Invite them over for a movie night so that they know they are welcome in your new life. Take them out for ice-cream to say thank you for sticking by your side during this transition. Reach out to them in the same way that you’d want them to reach out to you.

Secondly, you must ask difficult questions. Rooted connection requires depth, so dig deep. Ask them how they’ve felt throughout your shift into marriage. Inquire about their own fears or concerns. Listen with understanding, especially with your single pals. Odds are, they might be scared of getting left behind as they’ve watched you move into a season of life that they aren’t in yet. You’re not the only one experiencing change. Stay connected through questions.

Lastly, be open with where you’re at in this new time of your life. Let your friends know that yeah, you’re married now, but you still highly value your friendships and don’t plan on giving any of them up. Then, fill them in on how and where some things might be different and ask them for patience and grace as you explore this uncharted territory the best that you can. Tell them if Friday nights are your new designated date nights, and let them know if you and your spouse have agreed to leave phones in the kitchen after 8pm. There is no shame in taking steps and creating boundaries that protect the sacredness of your new marriage, and the right friends will not only understand that, they’ll support it and respect it.

You can continue to grow, even if it is in a slightly different direction than some of your closest friends. What matters is that you are intentionally staying connected at the roots. Pal, relationships will morph and shift in and out of new seasons. That’s life. We see it every year in the life span of flowers. There are annuals, gracing your life with vibrant colour and joy for a period of time. Then there are perennials, coming back with persistence, season after season after season, ready to shift and grow alongside you, no matter the circumstance. Relationships matter. All of them. Yes, your marriage is the most important relationship you’ll ever have, but it is not, and cannot, be the only one. Now go. Dig deep to stay connected at the roots of your friendships and come what may, you’ll be sure to grow together through it all.

Carly Tia

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