Does your partner cringe when you have a girl’s or guy’s night? Do they complain about one of your friends in particular? A recent study following couples in long-term relationships suggests that some friends may be toxic to your marriage. Seven U.S universities collaborated on 16 years of data from 355 couples who participated in an Early Years of Marriage Study. The survey found that when husbands disliked their wives’ friends, accusing them of interfering in the marriage, the couple was twice as likely to divorce as couples who reported no interference. The study also suggests that when a wife disliked her husband’s friends, the divorce rate was unaffected but there was noted conflict in both partners.
Experts in the field of marriage therapy, as well as social psychology, explain that men are more affected by their wife’s choice of friends because a husband relies more heavily on his wife for emotional support. A friend who is perceived as all-consuming of her time may cause the husband to become jealous. In addition, women often share more about their marital problems with friends, and he may see any offered advice as interference in their marriage. Feeling rejected and replaced may make him withdraw or become defensive. This can turn into a self-fulfilling prophesy a wife complains about her husband to her friend. The friend (hearing only one side) begins telling her that she can do better, leaving the wife feeling more distant and judging of her husband.
Friends are an essential part of our lives; most of the time, they are beneficial for our relationships. However, if your partner is threatened by your friends, these suggestions can help you set better boundaries with your friends.
Find out what exactly your partner doesn’t like about your friend. Do they feel left out, overlooked, minimized, or betrayed? Do they feel like you spend more time with your friend and, therefore, are more emotionally connected to him or her?
Do you give too much information about your partner? Decide together what information is okay for the two of you to share about each other. Telling your friends confidential information about your partner is a betrayal to your partner.
Is your partner’s perception of your friend correct? Sometimes your partner sees divisive or disrespectful qualities about your friends that you’re blind to. Instead of getting mad, consider they may be right and you may need to make stronger boundaries.
Create more intimacy in your marriage. If one partner neglects the other or puts work or parenting before the marriage, they may turn to a friend for more companionship. This can backfire if your spouse’s friend is going through a divorce, suddenly your spouse may begin to feel like the two of you may divorce too. Schedule dates for the two of you to be intimate and alone.
Make your spouse your top priority before your friends. Your spouse needs to hear that you love them and you’d rather spend time with them then your friends. Your spouse should always be top priority in your life.
Great friends add meaning to our lives and help us see the best in ourselves and our partners. However, sometimes your friends may not get along with your spouse, causing conflict and mayhem in your marriage. Saying goodbye to a friend is much easier than going through turmoil in your marriage. Finding out what is underneath your partner’s feelings when they dislike a friend can add insight and understanding to your marriage, helping you feel more connected to your partner and a better friend to your friends.