My husband is dyslexic. As a lover of the written word, I am pained by this, both for him and for myself. Reading is one of my favorite activities, but it’s not one we share. This is just one example—there are several things I enjoy that my husband doesn’t, and several things that he enjoys that I do not.
This is why my husband isn’t my only friend.
Expecting one person to meet all of my emotional and social needs is not feasible or fair. As our world becomes increasingly digital, we increasingly withdraw from social interactions in real life. This often means that our spouses and those we live with are the only humans we actually regularly see in person. I think this is dangerous to our relationships with these people because it leaves us, even unknowingly, demanding more from them than any person is capable of giving.
As a stay-at-home, homeschooling mother of five young kids, I have gone days without adult conversations with anyone other than my husband. This puts him in the position of having to meet all of my social needs. This has proven overwhelming for him, an introvert, and disappointing for me, a verbal processor. I can easily overwhelm him with all the words, which then leaves me feeling isolated and alone when he responds with a head nod.
As social creatures, we’re designed to have tribes of people with whom we interact, dialogue, and do life. None of us are exactly alike, so we most likely will need to be friends with at least a few people if we want to be around someone who shares our unique interests.
It takes effort, but I have intentionally made connections with people who share some of my interests—I have an online writing group to chat about all things writing. I have found another home-schooling mom to talk with about all things schooling and kids. I have a single friend who shares my desire to love my neighbors well. All of these people process the different parts of life with me. These friends are a sounding board and support group.
My husband and I make space for friendships, but we prioritize our time with each other. We take walks by the pier and watch Netflix when the kids are in bed. This summer we will get away for three days just the two of us.
Recognizing our need for friendships has been good for us, although it hasn’t always been easy to find that balance. Occasionally, I still overwhelm him with all the words about the latest book I’ve read. But when he responds with a head nod, I no longer feel alone or isolated, I just remember who he is.
- What I Know Now: I’m Not Too Damaged to Love Again - March 19, 2018
- Love Means You Don’t Have to Face Your Fears on Your Own - March 13, 2018
- Is Marriage Supposed to be Hard? - February 26, 2018