Marriage changes everything. One of the things it changes the most drastically is your relationships with other people. Sure, one of the most obvious changes you will notice are those that occur within the marriage. But what about your other relationships? Remember that friend you have had since high school, the one you promised to name your child after and who you swore you would live next to your entire life…where is she now? And the boss you despised and hated is somehow ‘manageable’ now that you are raising a family. Amazing how the more things stay the same, the more things change.
Consider your relationships before marriage and children between you and your in-laws. They may not have liked you much to start with. Perhaps you weren’t allowed to sleep in the same bed or they didn’t agree with the fact that you and your mate were living together. Suddenly, you get married and you want to feel autonomy from these people. In fact, young married couples often find that the hardest relationship to change is the one that exists between them and their parents. For women, this situation is extremely hard on both sides of the fence. Not only do many mothers feel threatened by their son’s wife, but also the wife often feels undermined by the mother in law. And worse, what happens to daddy’s little girl when a new man comes into her life and sort of takes over? The challenges that these can pose are not only tough on the individuals involved, but on the marriage as well. Truth be told, learning to deal with your in-laws and somehow level the playing field and set up boundaries is one of the keys to a happy and successful marriage. The problem is it does take time and effort, and it can get worse before it gets better.
Now consider your friendships. Despite the fact that your single friends warned you about the perils of marriage, you took the plunge anyways. “It won’t change me,” you thought. Next time the guys invite you to a bar or strip club, or to take the annual Las Vegas trip however, you realize it has. Sure, its fine to be friends with these people, but the raw facts are that single people and married people normally visit different types of venues. While there is nothing wrong with you and your spouse going to a nightclub or taking a wild vacation, the truth is doing it sans the spouse is often frowned upon. And, your single friends and those without a family are definitely on a different schedule with different priorities than you. This by no means means that the friendship is over, but it does mean that things will be a little bit difficult.
One of the most difficult scenarios where friendships change is when a woman has a baby. If she is the only one of her friends who is married with children, or who has children – she is prone to feeling left out of the action. And while all of her girlfriends may be insanely jealous and completely doting on the infant, they still aren’t going to want the infant to attend movies or dinner dates with them. And even more difficult is the fact that most new moms seek immediate friendships with other moms. As you are likely to find out mom friendships are hard. There also comes a time in your life that you will find yourself befriending your child’s friend’s parents. This happens out of convenience and often because you have so many things in common with them. The downfall is that often, these aren’t people that you would normally be friends with and you might at times feel lonely or reminiscent about your old friends.
Your relationships with your co-workers change as well.
And another relationship that changes with marriage and children is the one you have with your partner. Before you get married and have the kids, the picket fence and the minivan, the two of you are able to solely focus on one another. Then suddenly, you get married and you immediately begin wading through gender roles, insinuations, and assumptions about how marriage is supposed to work. Learning to live together, share finances, share responsibilities, and make decisions, as a family is a difficult transition when you are used to doing it alone. Suddenly there are a million things to figure out and hash out between the two of you. You may find that you argue more, feel frustrated with one another, and even wonder at times if marriage was the right thing for you. All of this is normal and is part of the normal process of settling into marriage.
Add some kids to the mix, and your relationships with EVERYONE in your life will change once again. This time, the biggest change will occur between you and your partner.
The good news is that change is not a bad thing. If everything always remained the same, life would be pretty boring to say the least. The best way to hold on to the relationships that you love in every facet of your life is to commit to spending time nurturing them. And as for your relationship with your partner, you have to realize that marriage is constantly evolving. The trick is making sure that no matter what the two of you always find your way back to one another.