He Says: I Don’t Want to Spend All My Free Time With This Couple
Meghan’s best friend moved back to town. She’s fine but her husband is a jerk.
She says: It’s not like we have a ton of other friends
I agree her husband isn’t very likable, but Joel is making a big deal out of this.
Nowhere is it written that once you’re married you have to do everything together as a couple. Sure, it can be nice to enjoy friendships with other couples, but it’s also nice, and even important for your mental health, for each of you to have your own stand-alone friendships. And when you have such friendships, it doesn’t also mean that your spouse has to be friends with the spouses of your friends.
Okay, so what do you do if your friend invites the two of you to get together with the two of them, and neither of you wants to spend time with your friend’s spouse? You have a couple of choices.
First, there’s polite avoidance. Meghan, you can say something like, thanks for the invite, but I’d really like some girls-only time. Why don’t you and I just hang out together?
A second choice would be to default to the first option as your norm, but also occasionally spend time together with them. Why? Unless he is truly a toxic presence – in which case you would owe it to each other to be honest about your emotional boundaries and limits – then maybe God has put him in your life so you can show him some of God’s own unconditional love and acceptance. Don’t think of your friendships solely in terms of what you will get from them, but also, more importantly, what you can give through them. Indeed, it is in giving of yourselves to others, together, that God will give to you: “Blessed are the merciful: for they will be shown mercy.” (Mt 5:7)
If you’re both feeling pulled to build supportive and enjoyable friendships with other couples, know that there are a variety of such networks out there, both local and virtual. Search them out, but keep in mind that your main goal should not be just to have fun. Rather it should be to grow, and to help other couples grow, into the strong, generous and loving couples that God made you to be.
Steve and Bridget Patton hold master’s degrees in theology and counseling and serve as family life ministers in the Diocese of Sacramento.