This Post Has Been A Long Time Coming
There is one particular kind of loneliness that is known only by women, when their best guy-friends marry. It strikes the first blow at significant girlfriends, but never fully infects you until a couple of months after the wedding. That’s why I say that this one has been a long time coming.
Amongst all the writing and talking that people do about marriage, Christian marriage, friendship, healthy relationships and all that.. you can find opinions and articles on how to keep your girlfriends once they are married, how to protect boys’ night out, how to adjust to being a singleton in a world full of couples.. but so rarely do you see anything about how to see your boy-friends through marital bliss and come out the other side humming.
I’m in the middle of it right now. And it’s not the end of the world, and it’s no one’s fault. Straight up. I have a lot of married guys in my life. I enjoy them, I enjoy their wives’ company when we meet. A lot of that is probably because I’m in a male-dominated business. I’ve successfully negotiated mergers before.. guy friends who have married and their wives have become as close as the husband ever was. But it’s tiresome, heartwrenching work. Sometimes it’s like you have to pull out your whole history to explain why a one-liner at the end of the meal was so funny. Before you know it, the humour is gone, and so is the core of the relationship that created this psuedo-friendship to begin with. It’s not always that bad, but sometimes it is.
Sometimes, a rare thing happens, and you end up adoring the woman that makes your friend so happy, more than you loved your friend to begin with. That’s happened a couple of times.
Sometimes, you end up seeing your friends through their weddings, marriages, children and then through their divorces. That’s happened a few times too.
In all those circumstances, there was a season when your friend has to disappear, replaced by a strange creature called ‘Newly-Wed Stranger That Knows Your Deep Secrets’. All this time you have assumed that your dark secrets are of no interest to your friend’s partner, or you’ve trusted that your friend knows better than to reveal. But once your friend is married, any words that you entrust to him, automatically become the shared property of his wife.
‘Newly-Wed Stranger That Knows Your Deep Secrets’ cannot be relied upon for anything in the first six to endless months of their matrimony. And understandably enough, these creatures are undergoing ridiculous amounts of adjustment, and are likely to lose perspective altogether. Priorities of newly-weds are always infinitely more of a priority than that of a singleton. Unsolicited advice becomes an endless tap that springs up from within. And worse, it’s not your friend that will outline these new principles of wisdom and friendship, but more often than not, your friend’s wife.
Lunches, coffees, phonecalls, emails now filled with a revolving mirror in which, you might catch a glance of yourself and the rivetting topics you brought to the table, but more likely will see an endless reflection of ‘Newly-Wed Stranger’ and whatever sits most on top of their plate.
You have lost your friend. You cannot retrieve him from the place he has arrived at; that’s not your right. You now have only the choice of waiting, hoping and nurturing some new-fangled relationship that somehow bridges the stranger he has become and the shadow of who he was. And in it you become a stranger too; a stranger to his wife, to his married friends, to the friends they share together.
More often than not, you are no longer on the inside of their life, even though once you shared dreams and thoughts, because you are not in the group of common friends, and so you are down the list of priorities. Indeed, crisis and tears and whispered words float past their ears, the smiling bride who thinks she knows enough of your face to warrant knowing a measure of your heart. You will whisper, ‘I Miss You’ and it will go unheard bar for a smiling laugh, and you will know you were not heard in the depths where you needed to be heard.
So you will pick yourself up. Your friend may one day return but you are less likely to ever have the same sense of comraderie you did before. You can’t be forced into loving companionship with his wife, and you can’t force yourself upon them, they are two, they are strong.. and they wholeheartedly go about their existence.. most of the time not at fault, and without a clue of the weight you carry.
It’s no one’s fault. Sometimes it just happens this way.
You can’t talk too loudly about it, because boys and girls struggle so much to be friends anyway. You can’t be too demanding without people asking questions about the depths of your affection for your friend. There is no sensitive way to say I love you, but I do not know your wife enough to love her. There is a sadness that only we can know. It’s not the same as the giddiness with which your girlfriends leave you for a season to marry. Eventually they return and it’s socially acceptable to moan about that, although I rarely do.
See, in the corner, you always fear that you had your friend by default .. that he has only room for his mother, sisters, wife and best mate’s wife in the woman-shaped spaces in his life. You wonder how you got there to begin with, and you know you’ll never be the same. His empty space is shaped like a brother, within your heart.