When people get married, it is only natural that they prioritise their marriage. They invest more time to nurture a new relationship. On the other side, are friends you have been with for a long time. Friends, with whom you share a lot, including meaningful conversations. Friends that you laugh and cry with. Friends that have known you since childhood.
With a spouse in the picture, how do you keep meaningful friendships that will not antogise your marriage? Can friends co-exist with marriage? But more importantly, do you still share as much as you used to do with friends? Do you tell your friends everything especially about marriage? How much do you open up to your friends?
“I have heard many cases where best friends have taken away their friends’ spouses due to oversharing. This girl had a best friend who was also her praying partner when they would meet to pray she would tell her friend everything complaining about the husband and washed her husband’s dirty. The best friend snatched her friends’ husband, because she knew everything about him. Do not share intimate details of your husband with your friends, if you still want to be in that relationship. We usually go to friends for emotional support, but I recommend that you go to a third party who will impartially solve your marital issues. Go to marriage counsellors and therapists that are professionals. Just because your friends have known you for a long time does not mean they have your best interests at heart,” says Evelyn Kharono, a Counsellor at Talk Therapy Uganda.
“At my bridal shower, a friend told me to cut off friends that are single. She insisted that they should never spend a night at my house, and if they had a problem, I could help them where they were, as a way of protecting my marriage. I believe these boundaries have to be put in place even before marriage. Friends should know their limits. It also depends on the kind of relationships you have built around yourself. If you invest in real friends, they are easy to accommodate because you don’t have to try so hard to please them,” Sybella Kimera accounts.
Evelyn Kharono suggests that friends should be aware of limits. Before girls get married, their life is characterized by partying, hanging out and all sorts of fun activities. But when one gets married, they should learn to prioritise their relationship with the husband. Your friends should be aware that they come secondary to it. But make time for your friends. Get a time to meet at least once a month and have fun together.”
“Find out what makes your partner uneasy and what causes conflicts in your relationship? If it has to do with your friends, find a way of compromising, to keep peace and harmony. I do girl nights out with my friends, where we go out and have dinner then go to a nice hotel for a sleepover. As friends, we try to do this as often as possible. My husband has no problem with it because he understands that I need to have time with my friends,” Julie Bayiga Njala explains.
When you are going to hang out with your single friends, ask yourself the purpose of your meeting, what the agenda is and what time the event will take place. If it is with the opposite sex, your partner should be aware of this or should accompany you.
“Friendship means conversations with friends. We like to share our experiences, our joys and frustrations. But it is important to draw lines. Not everything about your relationship is worth sharing with friends. Share with your single friends information that can make them appreciate marriage. Be careful not to share intimate information about your spouse. It is always the people around you that hurt you.”
Carol Wettaka says the benchmark which she uses to draw boundaries, is asking herself how she would react if her husband shared similar information, with his friends. “Most likely, if the answer is no, from me, it would be a no, from him”. Limit the information that you give out to friends about your husband because that shape how your husband is perceived by the public, and this will determine whether he will be respected or disrespected.
“For me, it depends on the kind of friendship. If I am talking with my friends that are single, I will tell them only things that they ask about. Usually, they want to know how it is like, to have a husband, how we met, how marriage is fairing. But if I am talking to married friends, then we can have in-depth conversations, because I know they can relate and share practical advice,” Teddy Nsamba explains.
“Marriage is very practical. Although our friends might have some ideas on how a marriage should work, we should not take everything as gospel truth. Friends should not be the primary source of information. Focus on your partner because nobody knows them better than you do. Marriage is not about dos and don’ts. It is about comprise. You have to be willing to accommodate your partner. Listen to your friends, pick out what works for you and disregard what does not,” Pastor Francis Kayiza explains.
“Do not let your friends ill-talk your relationship. It is disastrous to listen to your friends instead of paying attention to what your spouse is saying. Your relationship will be at stake because of the many voices you are listening to. Listen to your partner and make mature judgments as an individual but do not let your friends be your final judge. You could end up on the streets and nobody else will be to blame for the end of your marriage except yourself,” Rev Jonathan Adome of Christ Church Cathedral Church of Uganda, Kotido.
Do not let anyone overwhelm you with their pieces of advice about marriage. “I was told by my friends not to over socialise with my in-laws, saying they would disrespect me, in the long run. But this is all wrong. My mother in-law in a wonderful woman and I am glad we are friends,” cautions Rebbeca Nisimere.
She advises couples to exercise maturity by leaving some information exclusively private to themselves.
Prioritise your relationship
“Cultivate an intimate relationship with your partner that the rest of the relationships in your life, remain secondary. Do not hide any information from them and make your friends confidants. Your partner should know your inner hopes, dreams, business and career plans. This will make your bond stronger and primary,” William Senyange, counsellor.