It has been eighteen years since I passed high school and I am not proud to say that I am barely in touch with anyone from my school life, let alone be friends with them. No, following each other on Facebook and sending generic Happy Birthday messages on school WhatsApp groups doesn’t count as a win. By being in touch I mean checking in frequently on your batchmates, with conversations made over DMs and (sometimes) calls.
The situation is slightly better with my college friends, but then again, it doesn’t feel like I have their back, or vice versa, like we used to have in college. Once you enter matrimony, it feels like friendships take a backseat, especially for women. While men often manage to nurture school and college friendships throughout their adult life, the same is not true for most women. Blame it on the burden of household and childcare duties that largely falls on their shoulders, and social conditioning to prioritise family over everything else in our lives.
This means it is not just women’s careers that take a backseat, our friendships suffer too. Women either don’t have the bandwidth to nurture friendships or simply their priorities aren’t in sync with those of their friends. But hey, you need a shoulder to cry on. Someone with whom you can just blow some steam off and rant without judgement about work, family and everything in between. So, women eventually try and develop that sort of rapport with their husbands. Does that work out well though?
Friendships and marriage: A tricky combo
Okay, before it backfires, let us be clear, friendship is an essential part of every marriage, but then your partner cannot be the only friend that you have. It also seems unfair to expect your partner to do double the amount of duties for a single commitment. Besides, every person and relationship needs a breather. To expect that a person will only hang out with you, or try and wedge you into their social circle because you have lost out your own, will only lead to ill consequences.
This is among the many reasons why women need to stop shutting out friends after marriage. Yes, it takes a lot of effort to preserve a friendship, but if you could have clear communication with your partner to divide household duties fairly, you will have both the time and energy to invest in friendships. Surrounding yourselves with a sisterhood worth relying on has multiple benefits – you gain multiple perspectives from a diverse group of women with varying experiences, they will always be around to cheer you up when things go bad, they’ll stand by you and your choices and it will also give you and your partner some space and time away from each with both of you being happy about it.
Lately, I have been mending bridges that I had chopped off willingly or unwillingly, while building new ones, and I am doing so not only to surround myself with friends but to also ensure that there is one less thing that I am dependent on my husband for. The journey is not easy, as one realises that not all old friends will fit into your life, or you in theirs, but those who do, they are worth cherishing.
Views expressed are the author’s own.