Sarafina Bianco reflects on how friendships drift as we grow into a long-term partnership.
As someone who waited to get married until her thirties and spent the last part of her twenties as one of the few remaining single girls in our friend circle, I know exactly how it feels to watch everyone else couple up and break away. Your life is being stolen by two rings and a marriage license. Or, at least, that’s how it seems when you’re explaining your relationship with the happy couple to the other single people at table 8. The condensation dripping from your water glass onto the white table linens, you reminisce with friends and strangers about a bond (yours) bound to change.
Newlyweds must learn how to function as a unit, a team. So we give them space for a few months, accepting their absence and distracting ourselves with anything else. We excuse them from the everyday phone calls and standard friendship duties. And as time passes we can’t help but wonder what the hell happened to our friends, right? Surely they haven’t forgotten about us while building together. But I think the truth is that they probably have. At least a little.
Shit, I’m doing it now, and I’ve only been married four months.
I’m the girl who answers, “How’s married life,” with “feels pretty much the same,” every single time. My life at home isn’t different. Neither is our relationship, necessarily. So when people ask me about married life, I can’t tell them anything has changed. But I wish they’d ask about friendships, because then I could tell them about what has changed. Yes, even for the girl who vowed to never let my relationship change my friendships. Maybe that’s the only thing that has changed.
There are two reasons I choose my marriage over my friendships:
My husband is my best friend.
It’s true. Even though I called him my best friend before the wedding, and I truly believed it, he’s become more. The man I love knows every moment of my day, every conversation that hurts or heals me, and—most of the time—I don’t even have to tell him about them. He can see it in my face, my body language and stride. Within 30 seconds of walking through the door, he already knows how my day went by how I round the corner to greet him.
He knows me better than anyone else and, in turn, he’s the first person I want to share with. Because if he knows what’s scary or bothersome, hysterical or celebration-worthy, then I don’t have to waste energy sharing the story with anyone else who might be out doing things in their own lives. I don’t have to play phone tag or get annoyed by sending too many text messages or missing someone’s tone. While that sounds entirely bratty, it’s not meant to. I’m sure my word choice is ruffling feathers left and right.
But the truth is, he can fulfill my needs more efficiently than three friends who are now busy with their own lives. It’s not that I don’t care or that they don’t, it’s that we’re not kids anymore. I don’t necessarily need them at the same capacity I did when I was eighteen.
And I assume my friends will call when they need me or want to share their own stories.
Friendships change as we do.
What I’ve found to be so strikingly different are the ways our scars shape us to deal with other people. I’ve found it near impossible for my friends to celebrate my successes with me anymore, especially when they’re struggling with their own lives. It seems that’s the key now: I can invite whoever is happy, but it’s a waste of time to invite anyone who isn’t. Besides sending the invitation to make them feel included, it’s become apparent that unhappy people won’t show up to happy events.
Most of my best friends had their own reasons to miss my book release party. Some more believable than others, it was hard to imagine they weren’t lying. One of them even missed my wedding shower, just months before. Both times they claimed they were sick, probably forgetting they’d already used the excuse. And this made me reflect on the quality of my friendships: were they truly as good as I’d always believed them to be? It didn’t seem likely. Still, I can’t lump all of my absent friends into the same category as the one with the frequent sicknesses and excuses.
My husband is there to celebrate moments with me. Even if we have to reschedule because of conflicts. Even if it’s just the two of us dancing in socked feet on the hardwood floor.
We aren’t perfect. We bicker and annoy each other when the house feels too small. But noting these two ways he’s filled gaps in my life have made it exponentially easier to deal with the absence of people who used to mean the world to me.
For one man to be able to step in and fill the role of a handful of lifelong friends, well, that says a lot about which relationship is the most valuable.
And that’s why I’ll choose my husband every time.