Friend By Day, Wife By Night

I’m leading a double life.

There’s friend-making Rachel and married Rachel. Two separate but equally important people.

When I first started this search I consciously chose to do it on my own. The quest was—and is—about being a woman in a new city and how hard and hilariously awkward it can be to try and make new friends. I happened to be married at the time, but it was something I’d been thinking about since I moved here three and a half years ago.

So while Matt and I already had a few couple friends, and I figured more might emerge, he wasn’t included in the friending process. The ladies who passed muster would meet him eventually.

But now a lot of women have not only passed the sniff test but have become actual friends. And they still haven’t met him. They haven’t even seen him. I’m pretty sure they think I made him up.

Last weekend Matt was out of town for a work conference. One of my new friends had a birthday party and another of our friends brought her husband. It would have been the perfect debut, but alas, lawyering called. When I hosted these same girls for my getting-to-know-you pizza party months ago, he escaped to watch basketball elsewhere. People in my LEADS group seem genuinely surprised that I am doing it without my husband, and they always invite him (via me) to go to the bar with us afterwards. But it’s on weeknights and Matt gets up early for work, so partying at a bar doesn’t exactly fit in with his schedule.

Last week, after the birthday party, I was carving pumpkins with the same two girls and we were talking about the elusive Matthew. “He’s like Snuffleupagus,” one friend said.

When Matt got back from his trip I told him about the exchange.

“What does she mean, Snuffleupagus?” he asked.

“He was Big Bird’s imaginary friend at the beginning. Whenever the adults tried to meet him he disappeared.”

“This changes everything I ever thought about Sesame Street,” was all he could say.

I purposely kept these two aspects of my life separate at first. But I never really thought about how hard it might be to balance friends and marriage. When I spend too much time with friends, I miss QT with my husband. When I spend non-stop time with Matthew, I start craving girl talk. Other than a few double dates with other married friends, I haven’t yet figured out how to blend the two.

Have you ever struggled with the friendship-marriage balance? I can’t even imagine what happens when you have kids…

As for the Snuffleupagus thing… At least he’s not compared to Oscar.

16 Comments

Filed under BFFs and Marriage

16 responses to “Friend By Day, Wife By Night

  1. Ana

    Haven’t managed to perfect the balance yet. And yes, throw a kid into the mix and it gets tougher.

    A lot of my girl friends are single. Or there husbands aren’t interested in hanging out. So I tend to hang out with them alone, but feel guilty sometimes that I’m abandoning my husband or saddling him with too much baby care. So then I try to bring the BABY along with me on friend outings and you can imagine it cramps our style to have a 10 month old throw cheerios across the bar.

    We do have “couple friends”, but the ones we’ve made here so far aren’t (for either of us) our BEST friends.

    I agree with you completely that too much of either friends or S.O. leaves you craving the other…but I’m still trying to figure out the right way to keep everyone in my life happy!

  2. megan

    It encourages e to hear that you’re even trying to balance friendship and marriage! Most of my friends who got married this year have disappeared…

  3. Suzannah

    This is a post, that I have lived , with some struggles….but have finally settled into a balance…I have found after 17 yrs of marriage and 4 kids, that I have to make friendships with ladies who fit friendships into their life in a similar way….one example :
    if I am with my kids, say riding home from school, I will not talk on the cell just to chat. or in the evening, I won’t talk on the phone while my husband watches TV…not that there is anything wrong with those behaviors…I just feel my kids and husband need to feel they have my undivided attention…..
    but I reciprocate , if I need to contact someone at a time I know their family, is home I will be quick….and normally a understanding gets set.
    also if I have plans, with a girlfriend… I don’t text my husband all evening….because nothing replenishs my energy like time spent with a good friend.
    maybe in a sense, take care of my family, then girlfriend time takes care of me!!!

  4. Rachel, I am amazed that you manage any sort of balance between friendship and your marriage. My partner and I both have demanding jobs and extracurricular activities, and I always feel bad when I choose to spend a free evening meeting a new potential girlfriend instead of spending time with him and nurturing our relationship. It’s so hard to figure out a balance between the two — at least for me.

    • bahia

      Darlene (and Rachel), I completely have the same problem. My husband and I are both very busy, we both work full time and I am also pursing a Master’s, and his job takes a lot more than the typical 40 hours a week. This means that when we have time to spend together we tend to doing something just the two of us. We recently moved to a new state, and like Rachel, I am on a quest to find new friends (though maybe not a new BFF) and there are a lot of things that are difficult to balance. For my part, I hope to make friends with other couples as well as girl friends and then presents other challenges.

      Rachel, I stumbled upon your blog through your “Strangers that eat together” post and you can now consider me a regular reader!

  5. It’s so important to maintain your female friendships when you’re married or in a relationship because you can’t have one person be your entire world.

    I’m not married, but live with my boyfriend of 3 years and we share a household, so it’s pretty similar. It can be hard to balance both, and it does feel like dual lives sometimes. My group of girl friends all have great boyfriends/husbands who have always been part of our group, so I always bring my boyfriend around to hang with the boys – and seriously, we do usually end up splitting off between boys and girls. But my boyfriend doesn’t have any of his own friends in the city anymore (they’re all married, have kids and live in the suburbs), so I do feel bad leaving him at home for girls nights, knowing he doesn’t really have anyone to hang out with. But he’s also not as social as I am, so spending a night home alone doesn’t really bother him.

    • Cooper,I think that when I get very busy and haven’t visited in a few days, you puplosery change your header to make me think that I’ve arrived at the wrong site (even though I really like it.). :DYou know that you are ever so right. Building a community of love, happiness, care, respect and mutual admiration through our friends trumps a whole lot in this world. It’s just that simple. Have a wonderful time and raise a lot of money!Like or Dislike: 0

  6. Lisa H.

    My husband and I have a some couple friends that we enjoy getting together to watch a movie or play games. They both have kids but it’s no big deal really. It helps that we don’t have kids yet and so we go over to their place and about 8 or so they take a few minutes to put the kiddos to bed and then we go back to movies, chatting, or playing games. It works out pretty good actually.

    It will be harder when we have kids of our own of course but maybe by then things will be arranged a little better that we can hang out Saturday day or something.

  7. San

    Everybody should have some friends of their own… it’s nice when they finally meet each other, but the new girlfriends that you made don’t necessarily have to become couple friends as well.
    That is my take.

    It’s true – it’s hard to balance friendships and marriages, especially if you partner doesn’t keep the same balance (as in doesn’t have as many friends or craves more couple time), but both parts are important.

  8. Lorrie Paige

    Well, I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again, that’s why people need to limit their friendships or a relationship will suffer for it. Aristotle was so right….

    Have a once a week girl’s night (or day) out. Whenever Matt isn’t around, hanging out with the guys, you can spend time with the girls.

    Also, I just don’t understand why you don’t eventually make a BFF from a friend you already have in Chicago. Correct me if I’m wrong anyone who has studied relationships professionally, but ALL relationships grow closer/stronger or begin to deteriorate–be it friendships, marriages or any loving partnerships. As the months and years go by, things just don’t stay the same, especially with relationships. That’s why one has to work on the relationship to keep that bond growing strong and naturally you get closer or it fizzles out….So I just don’t understand how a casual friend–or whatever you call it–never grows into something more meaningful, or fizzles out to back to acquaintance. Maybe friendships that never seem to go anywhere–closer or further apart–should be known as “stagnant friendships”, and that doesn’t sound “friend”ly to me.

  9. Samantha

    My husband and I are both trying to make friends at the moment. He has unfortunately had a few friends move out, while I had to actively look. I get excited when my new girl friends will say invite guy friends or boyfriends. I think its a perfect time for my husband to maybe make a friend! However, almost everytime he ends up being the only guy dealing with girl talk! LOL! So I guess I feel really guilty trying to make new friends in the city. Specially on nights I have plans and he has a bad day. I guess we just really need to find couple friends.

  10. Erin

    Before i met my boyfriend, all of my friends were dating and I was the single one that was the odd person out. Then, when I became the only non-single person, I was almost purposefully pushed out of the group and he was disliked by the head hen (who was over 30, trying to get into med school and really wanted to be married…not that i find anything wrong with this, but this is all she talked about and seemed really bitter). I was told that all outings were “girls only” or that people that were not originally “invited” were not allowed. It would be better to find couple friends, but finding any friends right now would be great. I understand the feeling of wanting some girl talk (even if it’s just to discuss Glee or the fact that i’m 2 years behind on my summer reading). I commend you for having girls night yet still spending time with your husband. I wish I had the problem of trying to split my time…🙂

  11. Interesting post! I actually don’t find this to be particularly difficult, though maybe that’s because my husband and I are both just so busy, we cram in friend dates and dinners here and there, run home, see each other for a few minutes, and get back to work (or go to bed). Other nights, we’ll hang just the two of us. Ironically (or maybe not!), we’ve had more time to ourselves lately, now that so many of our friends have had babies. They can’t go out late, so we end up inside, together. Which is really nice.

  12. My husband and I love to spend time together and we are our preferred hang out buddies. I try to schedule lunches and dinners with friends when he is working late or when I can carve out some time during the day. I think spending time with the husband and friends are important. Although sometimes the balance might tilt in one direction over another. That’s just life.

  13. suneeti

    R, 99% of your posts reflect my own thoughts/experiences (i swear we’d be BFFs if we met…just putting it out there, ha!), and this issue in particular is something i’ve struggled with for ages. we met in college and dated for some 10+ years, during which time we lived long distance for 4 years, so it’s been interesting making independent and mutual friends in college and in respective cities, and trying to lead independent lives but also be totally committed to each other. he’s also always working long hours, so it’s been/is a perpetual balance of hanging out with mutual friends when he is free; being busy with my girlfriends/work/interests; and having adventures with just him when he’s actually free. in fact, a lot of my girlfriends, call(ed) him my “imaginary husband(boyfriend)” and have yet to really get to know him well, even though they all love him…or the idea of him at least! i don’t have any great advice (besides patience and humor being helpful), but can totally empathize…

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