You married your best friend and you happily spend all your time together. There is no need for other people in your life now, right? Wrong. Relying on one person to be your life partner and only social outlet is not healthy for either of you.
There are many benefits to having friends outside your marriage, and mutual friends that you and your spouse enjoy together. In fact, the healthiest and happiest relationships have a social component. Here are 5 ways having friendships beyond your partner can help.
Spending time with a variety of people offers new perspectives on life and its many ups and downs. You may find that the experiences you thought only you were having (in married life, work, or personal) are common to many. Knowing this and seeing the different approaches to similar situations can not only help you work things out, but it can also help give you peace of mind knowing that you are not alone.
You also gain perspective on yourself. When you spend time with different people you receive different reactions to your opinions and ideas. It’s like having mirrors with different angles. This helps your learn and grow as a person, and you and your spouse grow as a couple. This is true for both individual friends and friends that you have as a couple.
Whether it’s your BFF or just buddies from work, hanging out with others in a fun environment provides a sense of self and feeling of autonomy that is important. There is confidence in knowing that your world is bigger than one person, and that there are others that enjoy your company almost as much as your spouse does. Confidence is an attractive quality and something that inspires respect from others, including your spouse.
Having friends outside your marriage helps prevent leaning too heavily on your spouse and becoming needy. When you are comfortable with the idea that you each can enjoy time with others it helps boost mutual respect and can enhance the time you have together as a couple.
Friendships can also take pressure off each of you as partners. It is difficult to be the one person relied upon to meet another person’s every need. Being depended upon for everything can cause stress and resentment that can cause distance between the two of you, rather than closeness.
When you and your spouse are out with other couples it can provide a welcome new component to your relationship. You find yourself discussing new topics, learning new things, and NOT talking about the things that are money stressors and cause fights, like the house, kids and bills. As couples there are a lot of basics you will have in common and communing over these things can help ground you both and provide some comic relief.
It also provides an opportunity to share unique experiences that you and your spouse may have had. Telling people your vacation adventure story or hearing about other people’s volunteer work for instance, allows you to get outside of your own world.
Having friends outside of your marriage, both as a couple and as individuals, helps create new dimensions within your relationship. It has been shown that social interaction promotes good health, helps keep your mind sharp, and creates a more fulfilling life. You and your spouse need the balance of each other as well as outside relationships. Friendships will help make you well rounded and provide additional interest and conversation within your marriage.
Remember that the first priority is always your relationship. Respecting your partner’s desire to spend time with you, as well as with friends, is important. As you grow together you are likely to find that embracing outside friendships, both the personal friendships and those as couples, will benefit you both. Just be sure not to sacrifice one for the other. The key, as always, is balance.