As a newly married, self-analyzing, overly-introspective couple, April and I often find ourselves examining our relationship and comparing it both to other couples we know and to the general stereotypes of similar (monogamous) relationships. Our feeling is that our relationship is fairly atypical, and what works for us doesn’t necessarily work for other people. How we comported ourselves prior to marriage probably wouldn’t work for most couples, and our marriage has thus far been remarkably blessed. We still have issues, but I ask that you take what I’m about to write with a grain of salt. I’m presenting this as how I think things should be, but I don’t pretend to speak for all guys or all couples. You know your friends better than I do, so your best bet is to simply ask them.
However, I was asked, and this is my response. My friendships with members of the opposite sex have changed drastically since April and I first started dating almost three years ago, though I didn’t even realize this until after we were engaged. Prior to formalizing our relationship, the vast majority of my friends were female. I spent probably 90% of my social time with females, and felt somewhat alienated from my own sex due a lack of common interests. Every college ministry male-bonding social event revolved around sports in some fashion: watching a basketball game, playing touch football, playing basketball, going hiking, going “floating,” going rock climbing, etc. I like to read, drink coffee, converse, and write, and I’m not terribly athletic, nor do I desire to be. Women made better conversation partners, so it was with women that I spent most of my social time.
However, I met a girl at FnC soon after April and I were engaged and, after a few conversations with her in that context, I realized that I was treating her differently than I would have prior to dating April. I hadn’t suggested we get together and hang out, and I’d remained more emotionally distant than I would have done previously. I was guarding myself somewhat because I was already committed to a person.
This only had to do with a new relationship, though. As I analyzed my behaviour and motivations, I realized that the changes I was making regarding the opposite sex only applied to meeting new people. There is the potential that these changes had less to do with being in a relationship and were motivated more by the fact that I simply had less time to invest in friendships that might not last. With both males and females, I am more jealous of my time now due to my tight schedule.
Old friendships did not change for me, and this has a great deal to do with mine and April’s relationship. We trust each other completely and there are no jealousy issues. I can spend time with my friends without her worrying about my fidelity or loyalty, and vice versa. Some women worry that their guy is looking for something in those friendships, but April knows that she’s my priority.
Michelle asked what the mysterious line is between a married man and a single woman, and I think that depends on the individuals in question. But for me and my old friends, I don’t see a line. Our relationship is exactly the same as it was when I was single.
That’s pretty much the answer to Michelle’s question in a single, tiny paragraph at the end of a long, introductory ramble. Now that the floodgate’s open, though, I want to write more on this topic, but I’ll break it out over a few days so as to not overwhelm my readers. Next I hope to evaluate more why my relationships with older friends remain unchanged, followed by how a married man should behave regarding making new friends of the opposite gender.
Also, just as a sidenote for those of you who managed to read this far, April and I are planning on writing a book on marriage. As that begins development, a new blog will begin and there will be a tab for it along the top, just like there is now for stories and poetry. Since I’m starting to write these things, that might show up in a week or two.