Are you, as a couple, close friends with other couples?
I have thought about this for awhile already and today’s QOTD made me think even more about it.
DH and I have friends, but not ‘couple’ friends, where we would do things together as only couples. We get together with families and have meals as families, and do family things.
But, it would be extremely awkward for me to think of sitting in a living room, restaurant, etc, where it was only DH and I and another couple. I would find any conversation in a setting like that, very stilted. I even have my own sitting room so that I won’t end up in a situation like that.
I suspect its because of some past, traumatic events that still affect me. Is this something I should be working on? I enjoy listening to men talk, but somehow I wish it could be more a shared conversation. I am talking about actually getting comfortable in the presence of the opposite sex. Dinners are no problem, and outside mixed gatherings, because there always children around. A couple months ago, we ended up in a living room with 2 other couples, neither of which were/are close friends. It was a super awkward evening and I still shudder over it. Lol, DH said it hadn’t been going too bad until the women joined them.
It seems like if the wife is a good friend of mine, DH doesn’t necessarily have a close friendship with the husband, and vice versa.
How do the rest of you find it? Is this something that should be cultivated? If so, do you have any pointers? Or will this be different once we are empty nesters? Or is it one of those things that depend on the couple, both us, and others?
@C.Joseph–I am sincerely sorry you have had to deal with long-term unemployment. I know that a man’s ability to provide for his family is one of the biggest elements of his sense of self and it can be very painful to try so hard to do what you expect of yourself and yet be thwarted through lack of opportunities or other circumstances beyond your control. I don’t know the whole story, but I will pray that God will lead you as you search for a job that will give you a sense of accomplishment and pride and satisfaction.
Moreover, raising special needs kids must be one of the most challenging things ever asked of a parent. I don’t envy you. Nor will I offer any of the platitudes about God giving special kids to special parents, because I know you have heard that a million times and it doesn’t help when you are exhausted and frustrated and your child just can’t or won’t do the one simple thing you need them to do. No child should be born that way, and the enemy has a lot to answer for putting innocent children and their families through such unfair trials. I will pray that God will give you the strength and faith to endure the hardships of special needs parenting and that whatever material needs you have at present will be supplied.
Believe me when I say I seriously admire you for surviving in the parenting trenches when the bullets are clearly flying fast and hard. I have nothing but compassion for your circumstances and don’t intend to heap criticism on top of misfortune.
Must you say “adopted and natural kids”? Not sure what the plus means, but can’t you just say you have 5 kids? Or 6 kids?
We have one daughter. There is nothing unnatural about her. She has some extra family that doesn’t share our genetic material, but it’s still natural, God-made, 100% real. (We call them birth family.) Had I been blessed to give birth, we would have had two kids. Both 100% natural.
Despite whatever self-esteem issues you struggle with at present, if you have adopted some of your children, they ARE indeed YOUR children and they WANT you to accept them completely and without even verbal reservation. They don’t care what kind of job you have. Let them be proud of you. Don’t push them away.
Please forgive me if this is an inappropriate post. It’s a bit of a pet peeve of mine.
Most of our friends are couple friends. DW and I each have a few single friends, but not that many. These are primarily work-related friends.
Also, as a couple, we have single friends – never married or divorced or widowed. I don’t feel awkward with any of the female friends, married or otherwise. I don’t think DW feels uncomfortable with any of the male friends we have . (As I write that, I find that very interesting!)
For at least 20 years during the time we were raising our kids, most of our friends were couples with kids. Some were our kids’ friends’ families. Others were friends from before we/they had kids and now were having kids.
I think things will change for you as your kids become more independent and you move toward being empty nesters. When your youngest kids are in high school, they will be doing more and more on their own with their friends, and you’ll probably naturally do less with families. Then you will find out who are truly your couple friends. It is really a fun stage!
This is definitely one of those questions where there might not be an easy answer. SC hit the nail on the head. It takes the right couple. In my case, there are a few couples that my wife and I have close friendships with. In some of them, it was my friendship with the husband that opened the door, and in others, it was my wifes friendship with other wives that opened the door. From there, a lot of those friendships have expanded in various ways, so that we are all included in a loose circle of friends. I might spend a day doing something with one of the men, or my wife might go shopping with one of the wives, or all the men might do something together, just as the wives are likely to do so. Most holidays, we break bread with at least one other couple, and we regularly do the same thing with no special occasion. Sometimes it is at one of our homes, and sometimes we go out.
In short, we do life together.
If you are interested in trying to cultivate something like that, a bible study group or a connect group would be a good way to get things off the ground. I suspect those settings tend to encourage openness and ultimately closeness.
I think it helps that we are empty nesters, but the other couples aren’t, so it isn’t a requirement.
Interesting question. In our case, we formed close friendships with 3 couples whose children went to the same grade school as our kids. We also attend the same church, so we also have that in common. One of the couples tends to host frequent social events (dinners, etc.), and typically the whole is invited, which means there are typically lots of kids around. However, there are also events for the adults only.
What SC said is absolutely true; it takes the right couples for this to happen. We have been friends with some of these couples for over twenty years, and I think the length of time we have been together is due to our shared experiences, values, concerns, trust, interests, etc.
DW & I are still working on finding the best fit after three years in. She moved to me so I still have the same group of church friends. Her friendships have really taken off this past year, including the past three months with some ladies walking. All of us attend the same church with many of them or their spouses serving at the church so we all know each each. We’re starting to do more together. I’m an introvert and deep friendships have also been a struggle my whole life but I know the value (especially during & after my divorce) of them and the importance of having friends to talk to, especially doing life, marriage and blending a family. Mentor couples for our journey and helping others on their journey are both important to us.
Rich, deep relationships take time to develop and usually involve some type of crisis to go through together that deepens the relationships.
We have one couple that we have, as Doug said, “done life” with for the whole of our marriages (though not really to the degree he describes). The wife and I have been friends since soon after birth. Other couples have come and gone. Sadly, it has often felt like we were more interested in growing or maintaining the relationship than the other couple. Part of that was our delayed parenthood. It’s awkward when you are at different stages, but also life just got busier for everybody.
Years ago we did have a weekly Bible Study with about four couples and one friend who came without her husband. Those were some of the best weeks of our lives. (About a year, maybe two.) Theoretically, it was meant to be an easily doable weeknight, so our Bible Study was fairly brief, then we would have some refreshments, but as we bonded our after-study visiting time got longer and longer and we often didn’t get home until 11. Here again, it broke up when the kids started coming.
To address what seems like the heart of your question: from our experience, I have determined that if you want couples friends, you have to be couples friends and pursue the relationship. Then you have to decide how much one-sided pursuit you are willing to endure before giving up if they don’t respond as you hope. I forget the term for what happens to objects in space where unless they produce gravity they are always getting farther apart, but it apparently applies to people, too. I guess in the analogy “gravity” would be “effort”. The truth is, though, I was the one who started the Bible study, called everyone and invited them to join. I used to be inspired to host fun events like Murder Mystery parties and BBQs and I would be the one to pull out my calendar and a pen and say, “Okay, what works for you?” when someone would say, “We ought to get together sometime.” I don’t really know whether we got too busy and wrapped up in life or I just…stopped.
The other thing that I notice is you mention having a hard time getting comfortable in the presence of the opposite sex. You also mention you suspect a connection to a past traumatic event. Do you know what the event would be? Can you do anything about it, like talk to a counselor or your pastor or can you create some kind of personal closure? Is it a certain characteristic in men that you feel uncomfortable with, like being boisterous, being very knowledgeable about things you don’t have a lot of experience with, sexually appealing, sexually alert (like they are too aware of you as a woman), dismissive of women, dominant, or have mean faces. I personally have trouble with those men who have mean faces, who seem stern or over serious, who seem like they might be judging me. Also very tall men. I know what childhood experience created that; I had a stone-faced, large and imposing person in my life who constantly rejected and criticized me. 😛 I don’t have a really good answer for how to become comfortable with those men because I generally just steer clear and focus on friendly people. OTOH, the first time I saw DH I thought he had a mean face and ate younger kids for breakfast, so I married him. (He turned out to be a teddy bear.)
The only thing I can think of to solve that type of issue is that if a man you are considering socializing with makes you very uncomfortable, he may not be the right person to include in a couple friends relationship. Unless you find that you always have trouble getting along with someone or a group of someones, sometimes there are people that you truly are not meant to be closer to than friendly (beyond loving in Christ.)
One final note–if you are longing for a friend or friends, pray about it. I had had a best friend growing up, then went through a period of time when I did not. I began to really feel the lack of a best friend and prayed fervently that God would send me someone to be my best friend. She lives next door now. 😀 I’m still praying for a new best friend for DH, but I believe God will provide. He knows our need for relationship and he supplies all our needs. Sorry this got so long!!
What a great question to ponder, but it is also a sobering one because unfortunately the answer is no. In my position at church it is difficult to establish deep friendships where time is spent doing things together regularly. It’s hard to talk about the challenges of ministry and people when you are part of the same congregation. Outside of church and family, there are few friends, but not any really close friends where we can just bare our soul. My position can often be a lonely place. This is an area that needs course correction so that my wife and I have another couple to share life with as well as go deep in discussion. If you happen to think about it from time to time that would be a prayer request for us.
I can’t think of a time when we didn’t have at least a half dozen couple friends to go out with. We met in college, so we would double date with our friends at that time. Through the years, we’ve continued going out with other couples that we’ve friended from work, church, or our kids’ schools. Last night, we hung out on a couple friend’s patio, as we are desperate to socialize after Covid. Ordering takeout tonight and going to another couple friend’s patio.
I don’t think you both have to be besties with the husband and wife to have a good time. And of course, there are couples where one or both of you aren’t huge fans of one in the pair, but you really like the other half, so you deal.
I found it more difficult when we tried to do family get togethers with other couples. Too many interruptions and all the talk was about the kids. So, it has seemed easier after the kids grew up and did their own thing.
If you are looking for ideas to cultivate friendships with other couples, you could host a game night at your house and see if other couples would be interested in taking turns hosting on a monthly basis. We know people who do that with bunco and euchre. Another idea that we did years ago was a dinner club, where each month, one couple would choose a new restaurant to try and we’d all meet there. It was fun to try places that we honestly would never have gone on our own.
Reading your post again, I’m wondering if you can pinpoint what makes you uncomfortable around men and why you don’t feel like you can jump into the conversation? Is that the main issue?
For us, it takes the right couple. We can’t just pick a random couple and make it work. There has to be trust and friendship chemistry that happens. 😉 We were really close to a couple for a few years, we spent many weekends together, especially Sunday afternoons and evenings. We even vacationed together. Life circumstances had a way of drifting us apart.