Getting married can be one the greatest experiences in a young student’s life; but for some married couples, a difficult experience follows the wedding bells when they have to find a healthy balance in their social lives.
Morgan Black, an elementary education major, said she had difficulty making friends when she started at BYU because she was already married.
“It’s really hard to make friends when you’re married, especially in an environment like BYU, unless you’re making friends with other married people,” Black said.
But even that can be difficult, because when one makes friends with a married person, they rarely are making friends with the sole individual, but also with the spouse.
“It’s even harder to make friends even within married couples because now you’ve got four people who all have to get along with each other,” Black said.
While having couple friends can be a healthy social interaction within a marriage, Jonathan Cox, a psychologist who works for BYU’s Counseling and Psychological Services Department, said social interactions outside of marriage is important.
“It’s essential in a healthy relationship that each partner has outside social support and spends time in outside activities and interests with other people besides their spouse,” Cox said.
However, one BYU student thinks it’s easier said than done. Daniel Allen, a public relations major, said the dynamic between married students and their single friends can be difficult to overcome.
“It’s my experience that when couples get married, their single friends think they’re going to die and never come back,” Allen said. “Oftentimes, my single friends don’t think to hang out with us anymore, and it can be hard to work around their schedules.”
Allen said there is a disconnect between his relationship with his friends before and after marriage.
“As friends, we spend years developing relationships, and then all of a sudden, things change for some reason,” he said.
Many students who are engaged or recently married put themselves in a form of self-imposed exile. While that can build unity in a marriage, Cox said the effects it can have on outside friendships can be negative.
“It is very normal for people who are in the honeymoon phase to hyper-focus a lot on their spouse or their fiancé before they’re married, and it can be detrimental,” Cox said. “So it’s really a good thing if they can make a conscious effort to keep in contact with their own social support network that they had previous to their relationship.”
There can be a tendency for married students to isolate themselves with their loved one, but they still have a responsibility to maintain a network of friends, outside of their relationship, with whom they can socialize.
Black said leaving her husband alone while she went to socialize with her girlfriends was more difficult than she initially imagined.
“It never feels good when I’m like, ‘Hey I’m going to watch The Bachelor with my friends,’ or ‘I’m going to go out for three hours with my friends, and you’re just going to sit here by yourself,'” Black said. “It inhibited me from going out and doing things with my friends.”
It can be uncomfortable to leave a spouse home alone when going out for a night on the town. However, Cox said it can be beneficial in a marriage.
“Spouses should be patient and understanding and encouraging of their spouse to also do the same thing with their social support network,” Cox said.
So how can married couples maintain successful friendships with their single friends? Rebecca Klemetson, a recently married BYU student, said she and her husband openly communicate and attempt to simply follow a social calendar.
“Usually we agree about once a month for half a day is good for Broderick (Klemetson’s husband),” Klemetson said. “They start their game nights at 6 p.m. and end as early as 1 in the morning. Other than that we kind of have an unspoken agreement that we want to hang out with each other on the weekends.”
Not only is outside socialization and interaction with friends fun, but it can be healthy. Cox encouraged married students to actively participate in their social support networks. Crystal Christian, a BYU graduate and mother of two, said her and her husband’s regular socializing with their individual friends, through book clubs and “guys nights,” keeps their relationship happy and successful.
“Honestly it has been amazing,” Christian said. “I don’t talk his ear off about girl talk that he doesn’t really listen to, and he doesn’t go nuts with the little details of computer or other guy stuff that I don’t really pay attention to.”
Christian and her husband are able to strengthen their individual interests by spending time with their personal friends. Cox, Christian, and Klemetson believe life long friendships are beneficial and worth maintaining, especially after marriage.