When I got married almost four years ago, I loudly declared that we would never be one of THOSE couples.
You know, the couple that is so wrapped up in themselves and their newlywed bliss that it seems like they have dropped off the face of the earth. Single friends get left behind and they seem to have promoted themselves to a different social circle: the married crowd.
I am still a newlywed and a mere forty-five months into marriage, but I am learning that it is also possible for the pendulum to swing to the other side. You can prioritize your friendships outside the marriage so much that you have a hard time putting your primary life relationship first.
My husband and I dated long-distance through the entirety of our relationship (up until engagement), so while that helped us hone our communication skills, we were living the lives of busy, single people in our respective states some 600 miles apart. We had entirely separate friend groups and lives. We maintained and grew our relationship through gchat, text messages, and daily phone calls. We saw each other in person at least one weekend a month. It was challenging, but during that season, it was enough.
We are both extroverts – we enjoy meeting new people and attending as many social events as possible. When we arrive at parties, we go our separate ways immediately and work our way through the room, chatting with as many friends as possible. Eventually, few hours later, he and I will cross paths and check in on what time we want to leave. Having spent the entire evening apart, we’ll come home energized and declare, “That was great!”
Lately I have begun to realize that maybe we have taken it a little too far. Maybe our priorities have gotten out of whack. Somehow we have put others first so much that our relationship is coming up last. We spend our weekends at weddings and social gatherings – all beautiful and fun things, but we need to work on planning ahead for ourselves and writing our commitments to each other on our calendars with permanent ink. The allure of exchanging ideas with other people is often shinier and more attractive than spending time downtime with my spouse. There will always be other relationships and activities demanding our time and attention and emotional energy, so its something we need to learn how to balance now while our marriage relationship is still young.
To be honest, I want to spend more time with Nick, but I don’t want to scale back on my time spent with friends. I want both. I want to somehow be superhuman and create more hours in the day or be in two places at once. Feeling like I’m missing out on a memory to me made with friends drives me crazy. But when I got married, I chose to put this particular person first. I said I would forsake all others. I am realizing this does not just mean romantically – it means that sometimes I have to say no to good things in order to make sure my marriage becomes a great thing.
Learning to say no needs to be an essential practice. I never want to disappoint anyone. I never want to be “that” couple. But more than worrying about disappointing friends, I should be concerned whether Nick feels loved. And if he doesn’t, I have to make the hard but necessary choice to choose him first.
Have you ever experienced a similar challenge in your relationship? How do prioritize time with your significant other?