We’ve talked extensively about how important it is that we keep friends outside of our marriage. And that doesn’t mean that we have friends who can’t also be friends with our spouses. It just means that we look for emotional connections with more people than just our spouses. I know it’s very true for me; my two best friends give me things my husband never could, and not just things like watching the six-hour BBC “Pride and Prejudice.”
It’s a real romantic notion – both in the love and in the story sense of the word – that our spouses can provide us with everything we need. But that’s just not true, and not only in an emotional sense. Humans are complex and imperfect; we have myriad emotional needs, and none of us are multifaceted enough to fill all of those for someone else. It’s just not fair or right to expect one person to. I experience this all of the time.
Jon’s not great at comforting me. If I’m feeling low, he’s not very good at making me feel better. He tries, but he processes emotions so differently from me that he often has to look to me for direction, and when I’m feeling bad I don’t usually want to have to tell him. Instead, I send a few texts back and forth with one of my best friends, and I soon feel my spirits lifting.
She’s a lot more like me in how her brain and emotions work. She’s better at knowing what I want when I feel bad, and how I will react to both negative and positive events, because most of the time it’s what she wants or how she would react. A lot of the time when I’m feeling down, I really need to go to her to feel better. All it takes is a quick exchange with her, and I’m often feeling better.
That’s not to say that Jon can’t comfort me at all. He gives hugs when they’re needed, helps me out, distracts me from my problems, or helps me work through them. He’s just not that great at cheering me up. If I’m worried about something health-related, for example, he’ll rattle off a list of medical and scientific facts, and then be perplexed when I’m not comforted by his gesture.
But it’s OK, because Jon is not the only person in my life. That’s what I have my friends for. He cheers me up a little, and even if it’s not nearly as much as my best friend, that’s fine. I love having all of them in my life, and I wouldn’t change a thing.
What things do your friends do for you that your spouses can’t?
*(The above image by Stuart Miles is from freedigitalphotos.net).