Why My Friendships Keep My Marriage Strong

At the beginning of the pandemic, I was secretly thrilled to have my husband home with me indefinitely. I work from home most of the time, and I had no colleagues to workshop my jokes with. I figured my writing could only get stronger.

Except, as I forgot, he actually had work to do all day, and since my industry is on indefinite hiatus (theater and film), I found myself starting to get more and more anxious as the pandemic rolled on. Fewer things to do and more time to stress over the failure of the world was a bad equation, leaving me with intense anxiety pretty much every moment of every day.

All of a sudden, he and I were bickering a lot over dumb things. We had played every game in the house and built every puzzle multiple times—I was starting to get irritated (OK, maybe not just starting). I couldn’t figure out what was going on. I had come to the conclusion later in life that I was actually an introvert, not an extrovert as I had long believed, and relished my alone time in my house. This should have been my dream. Low and behold the epiphany brought forth by my husband: I missed my friends.

Ever since I was younger, my closest friends have meant the world to me. When I left for college, my best friend cried in my driveway through the whole goodbye, and then I proceeded to cry all the way through Ohio and Pennsylvania on my drive to NYU. My mother was actually concerned they may not be able to leave me in New York on my own. While I was going to miss home, I was going to miss my best friend most of all. She knew everything in my heart in a way that no one else knew, and she never judged me for it. We have now been friends for over 21 years, and it’s still true to this day.

 

While I was going to miss home, what I was going to miss most of all was her. She knew everything in my heart in a way that no one else knew, and she never judged me for it.

 

I’m one of the lucky ones: I have an incredible network of girlfriends. I talk to at least one person I am close to on a daily basis, whether through epic text chats or a lengthy FaceTime call. In the early years of my marriage, when my husband worked weekends through the spring, summer, and fall, my friendships kept me going. I filled my weekends with brunch, bars, restaurants, outdoor picnics, swimming in Lake Michigan, you name it. And while I missed my husband, certainly, I was so grateful for the time spent with my friends. We got to know each other in deep and significant ways, spending all our non-working time together well into our 30s.

 

 

Once my husband left his tourism job and moved into financing, all of a sudden we found we had weekends together. All the things I did with my girlfriends, I found myself reluctantly switching over to doing with my husband. After spending five years complaining about not having any weekends together, I thought it best to spend every weekend moment with him moving forward. We could do all the things that “real” couples did, like going away for a weekend or going out to dinner and movies. Except, the whole time I kept biting my tongue to keep from inviting all my friends along with me.

 

We could do all the things that ‘real’ couples did, like going away for a weekend or going out to dinner and movies. Except, the whole time I kept biting my tongue to keep from inviting all my friends along with me.

 

Then the pandemic hit nine months after his new job started, and it started to become all us, all the time. While I was loving this, I didn’t realize there was a hole in my heart. I was once texting my friend (well, maybe complaining) about how my husband didn’t enjoy singing in the car with me, and my friends aptly reminded me that we needed to leave some stuff just for us. But then it hit me, I wasn’t sure when I was going to get do any of that fun stuff again. That’s why I was so angry. Not at him for failing to appreciate the joy that singing a ’90s-era Lilith rocker in your car could bring. Rather, because I didn’t have in-person access to my friends anymore.

I have been luckier than some. A few of my friends meet up with me for a hike once a month, and we spend an hour outdoors, wading through the weather just to have a precious laugh together, behind our masks and layers. But a large part of my friendships are outside of Chicago, my current home. I haven’t been in proximity to them in almost a year, and it’s taking its toll on me.

 

 

Once I was able to figure out that I was missing my friends intensely, the clouds lifted a bit. I now set dates and Facetime calls with each of my friends, rotating throughout the month, to make sure I get a chance to speak to them all. My Saturday mornings and Sunday mornings are full of me catching up, while my husband does whatever it is he does during that. I don’t know, and I don’t worry about spending less time with him. We are less on edge with each other, and coming together feels like a choice, not a life sentence.

Before, I was expecting my husband to be everything to me. My friends reminded me there are certain things that can only be done with them. A beautiful at-home spa day, with adult beverages, and romcoms can only be perfectly executed with a friend (or several). Loving cheesy holiday movies and predicting every delectable second can only be achieved with your favorite group of friends. My husband is definitely my friend, but I need my other best friends too.

 

Read More: Hiding Under the Covers to Eat Doritos—And More Honest Confessions From My Pandemic Marriage

 

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