How Your Friends May Be Affecting Your Marriage

Humans by nature are social creatures. We, especially moms, crave to be accepted and in community with others.

Our desire to belong to a community often affects how we behave, our mindset, and the outcome we see in our lives.

Do you ever find yourself spending so much time with someone that you start talking like each other? Even laughing like each other?

It feels great to be accepted and feel like we belong, and what makes us feel like we belong is having things is common with others.

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“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”

Have you heard that saying before?

You may be thinking, “So I’m the average of my kids and husband?!” Ha! For sure your husband, but not necessarily your kids. However, this does include the time you spend communicating with people, not just the physical sense of spending time but the people you lean on for support. So for the girlfriends you text, call or email absolutely count too! It’s the people you talk to most, whether that be your family (parents, siblings, cousins, etc…) and/or your friends. Anyone in your “inner circle” whose opinion you value and/or have influence over you.

The people we choose to make our community greatly influence what we do with our time, what we’re willing to try (or not try), and how we think about things.

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If you were trying to lose weight, hanging out with someone who doesn’t prioritize their physical health is probably not a good way to help you achieve your health goals. If they aren’t intentional about eating and eat junk food all the time, not paying any attention to how it fuels their body or how they feel afterwards, you will most likely be tempted to join them because why not? It’s there, they’e making it look sooo good and now you’re tempted! On top of that, what if their hobbies include watching lots of TV, sitting around, and doing nothing that involves physical activity? Well, you won’t be very motivated to go exercise either! The amount of motivation you need to prioritize regular bodily movement has to be greater than if you were to hang out with someone who has physical activity built into their routine. This is simply because you alone don’t have enough motivation to do it on your own and the person you’re spending a lot of time with doesn’t do it either so you really have no push to go do it! Your overall thoughts around taking care of your health will be affected because we place more value onto getting along with people than being right if being right means being alone.

This is true for your marriage as well!

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We all have friends who we go to when things go haywire in our marriage. The people who hold space for us to rant and complain about how annoying or difficult or stubborn or mean our husband is being. The one who will get mad with you and say how awful he's being and that you deserve better and what you should do to remind him how lucky he is to have you.

But the thing is... that kind of friend isn't actually helping you at all. That's not being supportive. That's being an enabler.

They’re enabling you to stay where you are in your thoughts instead of challenging you to grow by offering you a different perspective. Offering you ways for you to take the team approach with your husband to resolve the issue rather than encourage you to take spiteful action so that you can “win”.

If you’re hanging out with people who don’t care about having a strong marriage and just side with you 100% of the time when you have conflict with your husband, then you’re going to stay stuck in that cycle! You need to surround yourself with people who will help you and your marriage grow, not “yes” people who say things they think you want to hear and let you complain and rant without actually having anything productive come out of that conversation. You need people who will say things you need to hear. Someone who supports you through your struggles and offers you a different perspective so that you can approach your marriage challenges with the intention of growing together rather than winning the fight or getting revenge. To see it as an opportunity to learn more about each other instead of another incident creating distance in your marriage.

So in your network of friends, do you have friends who have a strong marriage? Go hang out with them! By spending time with people who have what you want, you get to see what it requires to have it and to maintain it. How do they resolve conflicts with their husband? What habits do they have that nurture their marriage? How do they talk about their husband? How do they interact with their husband? What does prioritizing their marriage look like?

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Being around people who have what you want boosts your internal motivation because you want to have more in common with each other. So you end up borrowing their motivation and getting a boost! With this in mind, consider who’s in your circle of influence. Are they serving your higher needs? Who you’re trying to become?

Be friends with people who will encourage you to look outside of yourself and your pride when it comes to your marriage so you can grow as an individual and as a couple. Hearing your friends sympathize with you will just keep you stuck in your anger and in the end… not help your marriage. All it does is reinforce what you’re already stubborn about, but for marriage to truly be successful and sustainable, you both need to grow up as individuals and as a couple.

While you wait for your habits to build, you can ask yourself, “What would someone who has what I want (a strong marriage) do in this situation?”

This question will help guide you through what to do and over time, those actions will slowly become habits and next thing you know… you have a strong marriage.

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Here are some questions you can ask yourself to get you on the path to strengthening your marriage:

  1. Who do you know that has a strong marriage?

  2. How can you spend more time with people who have a strong marriage?

  3. Observe and ask questions to learn how they nurture their marriage

  4. Apply what you think would be helpful in your marriage

  5. Ask yourself, what would a person with a strong marriage do in this situation?

Happy growing!