I’m at that age where society says I should be married with a baby on my lap as my shining life’s achievement. Plot twist- I’m not. A lot of my friends are though and that’s happy enough for me. But lately, it’s become a bit difficult to hang out the way we used to. Brunches on weekends and spontaneous art trips now have to be scheduled way in advance, and with the way adulthood works, every other line is “husband” “Baby” and “gotta be home.”
Recently, I had to ask a friend why I hadn’t seen her in a while. This was my effort to suss out whether or not we had any issues or a falling out I was not aware of. Every attempt to spend time together (even with offers to come to her home) were met with dismissals and never-ending rain checks. It wasn’t until she finally said it that I buckled back in shock.
“My husband doesn’t want us spending time together. He thinks you may be a bad influence since you’re not married and all. You know we just have different priorities.” I don’t know what insulted me more, the idea that her husband had said this or that she’d believed it enough to adhere to this insidious request. But come to think of it, this rhetoric isn’t at all uncommon. I have a relative who thinks the same way and used to deliberately thwart his then-fiancé’s efforts to socialize with “old friends,” insisting that their only outings should be with other married couples — you know the people they have the most in common with.
I, for, one find this to be a ridiculously pervasive thought process. I understand the pedestal upon which marriage has been placed and the level of social elevation that it bestows upon its participants. However, to fundamentally forgo basic human connections because you’re in a different life stage is backward thinking at best and relationship xenophobia at worst. Single men and women are no more dangerous or unhappy than married couples. We do not hold the key to the underworld or den of iniquity. We don’t lead married people astray and give them a false idea of what else is out there. If anything, your single friends round out your life and remind you that there is an existence outside of being coupled. The notion that your single friends are unhappy and seek to lather your marriage in negativity by way of proximity is simply untrue. People are people and more effort needs to be put into inclusion on an individual basis rather than exclusion because I RSVP for one for events.
What is true is that most single people know a few unhappily married couples. Say it fast enough and “happily married” starts to sound like “Help me, I’m married.” Yet that doesn’t stop single women from hanging around married women for fear they’ll taint their dream of marrying prince charming one day. Marriage is one life event, not the basis for a fundamental shift in social connections.
I’m glad to be well rounded and have a bevy of friends in different life stages with whom I can still enjoy a genuine friendship, with appropriate tweaks.
As for this particular friend, I haven’t seen her in years. I hear she’s well and now president of the wives club in the city where I grew up. I wish her well.