It’s an age-old joke, and both men and women say it.
“I just lost one of my friends…”
*pause for dramatic effect*
“Oh, she didn’t die. She got married.”
It’s the plight of the single person; you go from being a member of a posse, and as people get married, the dynamics of your friendships change.
There are two ways a friendship can diminish after marriage: if one person remains single, or if the married person becomes too attached-at-the-hip to their partner.
Marriage means your close friends take a backseat to your new nuclear family. That said, friendships can grow deeper because of marriage; the friends I’ve had forever who are also married and have kids—like I do—are still some of my best friends.
Things get depressing, however, when marriage changes every dynamic of your old friendship.
I made fun of my friend Jonathan, on Facebook. It’s what you do; he’s a guy, I’m a guy, we poke fun at one another. We’ve known one another for twenty years, so I was comfortable giving him a little ribbing.
When I received a notification that someone had commented on the thread, I clicked it and discovered Jonathan’s wife blasting me. She was swearing and calling me names, which I thought was a disproportionate response to a joke between friends. I was taken aback, and texted my buddy to make sure everything was cool.
The response I received was another tirade from his wife. More swearing, more name calling. On his phone, mind you.
She responded to my text using his phone.
I was trying to deal with someone I’d known forever, personally. One-on-one. I was reaching out because something had gone awry over a joke, and I heard back from his significant other. Not just heard back from her, but she continued lashing out, just as she had been doing publicly on Facebook. Going further, she said her husband was a victim, and my idiotic jokes were actually vicious slanders. I was such a jerk, and Jonathan was too kind-hearted and classy to respond to the likes of me.
I read it all with a furrowed brow.
Part of me wanted to make a joke about him being emasculated, which would have been the easiest throw. “Need your wife to fight your battles for you, fella?”
But it wasn’t a battle. Or, at least it wasn’t supposed to be. It was supposed to be an instance where something was taken the wrong way, and two friends were trying to work it out.
Now, full disclosure: my wife has full access to my phone.
This post isn’t about control, or trust. My wife has full access to my phone because she’s my wife, and I have nothing to hide from her. In fact, according to a former friend of mine—Grant—she has too much access.
My falling out with Grant began with a text. Grant sent me a text about cheating on his girlfriend. My wife was closest to my phone when it chimed, and she picked it up, glanced at it, rolled her eyes, and handed it to me.
Grant was furious when I told him she saw the text. He ranted and raved about how she shouldn’t be touching my phone, which is (in part) why we’re not friends anymore. That said, let me repeat what happened: when the text came in, my wife read it, rolled her eyes, and tossed me my phone.
Because it was my phone, and a very personal text for me.
She didn’t respond to the text, typing in: “You’re a horrible person and I’m telling Susan.”
(I mean, she probably told “Susan,” because they’re friends, but that’s beside the point.)
I asked Grant, “What am I supposed to do, dive for my phone the instant it makes a noise, shouting, ‘Don’t look at that!’?”
He had no response, other than to seethe and repeat his belief my wife had no business looking at my phone. I disagreed, and it was the beginning of our undoing. Because of his continued anger toward my wife, we’re no longer friends.
Look, as stated, my wife has complete access to my phone. Her thumbprint is on the access pad, so she can look at/use/riffle through my phone. And yes, if a light text comes in she might respond for me. But that’s if it’s non-personal, fluff stuff. What time we’re meeting friends for dinner, telling someone when a movie starts, telling my mom I’m not around, but here’s a picture of the kids…
That said, personal texts should be responded to by the person they were intended for.
When I checked in with Jonathan about the joke, texting him directly (as opposed to continuing the nonsense publicly online), to hear back from his wife was absurd.
Because I’m not under their roof, I cannot say for certain what was happening at that end. I’m not going to point fingers and say “she’s out of control” or anything silly, I can just say it felt inappropriate.
Even worse, it’s been several weeks and he hasn’t reached out to offer an explanation of what happened at his end. Because of the last interaction, I don’t feel like contacting him again. I don’t know who I’m going to get: my friend, or his wife.
When you get married, your life changes. It’s supposed to. You are taking on a partner—the two of you, binary against the world. But that change isn’t supposed to be a sacrifice of self; you’re turning your heart and soul over, but not your life or control of your life. You’re supposed to maintain friendships, your personal relationships.
When your significant other starts inserting themselves into every single aspect of your life, or when you cede control of your own relationships to your partner, that changes the dynamic of your friendships. And not for the better.
This thought process works for both genders.
I asked my wife how she would feel if she texted one of her close friends about a misunderstanding, and received a response from that friend’s husband instead. She said she’d be confused in the least, and angry at most.
If I’m having a conversation with a married friend of mine, I get that quite often I’m also having a conversation with their spouse. It’s natural. If I’m contacting a friend of mine for a personal one-on-one, however, and can’t even get past the gatekeeper…