Friday, September 2, 2011

Friends First

It's not often when you see everything that is wrong with today's relationships summed up succinctly in one little headline, but here it is: Why You Should Always Put Your Friends Before Your Husband.

Yes, you read that right.

The author, despairing over the disintegration of a 23-year "partnership" (whether all those years were spent married or unmarried, she doesn't say, though she does admit to a "short-term" affair somewhere in the in-between), encourages women everywhere to "bind your friends to you with hoops of steel, because the threads of marriage really are gossamer thin."

To prove her point, she throws forth the example of fellow divorcee, Karen, who tossed her friendships in the backseat when her possessive, jealous boyfriend needed a little more security. Ten years and two kids after saying "I do," the marriage ended and Karen was left without the friends she so desperately wanted.

How this is supposed to illustrate the need to hang onto one's friends over one's husband is not exactly clear. It seems to me that it is primarily an example of why a woman should not date or marry someone whose irrational and controlling behavior causes her to eliminate longtime friends from her life. So here's a little advice: If a guy is a controlling jerk, don't marry him. There, problem solved.

Now, let's assume the author did not marry a jerk. Why, then, would she treat her husband as something disposable or undesirable? Obviously everyone needs friends and the opportunity to pursue their own interests (and each marriage partner should allow their spouse some space for a basketball game or a girls' night out without complaint), but friendships should never be cultivated at the expense of damaging one's marriage. If the threads of her marriage really were "gossamer thin", she should have brought in reinforcements.

P.S. Girlfriends who are critical of her husband's every thought or (in)action don't qualify.

If friendships take work, why in the world would she expect a marriage to be any different? Here's a little tip -- Treat your husband as loyally and as kindly as you would a best girlfriend (how many bratty women out there treat their husbands like children, or worse, something the dog dragged home?) and you'll find those "steel hoops" are binding you together more strongly than ever. Prioritize. Don't spend twenty years putting your husband on the back burner and then act surprised when he walks out of your life -- If you have time to go see "The Help" with your besties or to organize the community yard sale, but you don't have the time to have a great sex life with your husband or lift him up after a long, hard day at work, there is something wrong with you and your priorities.

Whether you are bound to your husband with gossamer or steel is entirely up to you. But if you choose to use gossamer (yes, it's a choice), you'd better steel yourself for heartbreak.

And put a few friends on speed dial. You might need them.


MyDonkeySix said...

Gossamer? ouch. Sad that she missed how amazing marriage can be!

Stephanie Black said...

As Dr. Laura said (not sure if I have the quote exactly right, but I'm too lazy to go look it up), "If you don't pick your husband as number one, that favor will, sadly, be returned."

Liz Warner said...

I really hate seeing relationships where couples are jerks to each other - whether treating them like a child, or giving them what's left over at the day rather than trying to give them their best. I really think partners should be cherished. It's tough to always keep to that, but I think worth it for both people. Also, excellent point that it *is* a choice. It's amazing what people do thinking they had no part in it.