So often these days, women feel guilty for even contemplating the idea of time with their friends. This is especially true if it means sacrificing time with their partner. This fact remains, regardless of the gender of your partner, but for relatability to the majority here I am going with male partners. Also because it relates better to the story at hand! Lol
Friendships suffer at the stage of life where people start settling down, working full time, having kids. I guess we blame this on time. When you have both spent the day hard at work, and then come home to household chores, bills, cooking, children, homework, and maybe even work that you didn’t get time to finish at the office, it stands to reason that all you want to do at the end of it all is sit next to your partner and relax together. Weekends are filled with extended family, shopping, household chores like washing and gardening and if you’re really lucky every once in a while you may actually get a chance to go on date night. But friendships? Who has time for that? And how?
Gone are the days when your partner will call to say he will be late home from work as he is heading to the pub with the boys. He better not, right? You’d be annoyed. After all that would leave you in charge of all the necessary things and responsibilities while he just gets a free pass to drink with his friends. Does he not think you would like a night off? And so on and so forth.
This attitude means males are less encouraged in current times to indulge in friendships. Let’s explore this though?
A close friend of mine expressed how miserable her man had been lately until she forced him to spend Friday nights with his mates. Yes, she decided to be proactive, and instead of whining that she was left alone with the child (again) she embraced the idea of nights to herself, and encouraged him to have a guilt free night off every week. You know what? She reported a marked improvement in both their personal satisfaction and happiness and in their relationship. She reported a decrease in resentment which she claims was only hurting herself and the relationship anyway, and is open to the idea that she could benefit from boys nights out by hosting her own girls night in!
Let's think about it seriously for a second.... when our men are not out there socializing – we are often put in the role of being their friend, their source of entertainment and social connection outside of work. Now, I would never underestimate the importance of quality time with your partner, but sometimes absence makes the heart grow fonder, right? If your partner needs you to entertain them at all times, you will feel inadvertently guilty and responsible for his enjoyment even when you aren’t there.
I think my friend is on to a good thing myself. If Friday night is boys night, they can alternate weekends. If she stays home alone (or invites a friend over) while the child is asleep one week, he can have his mates over the next week and she can go out. When they come back together afterwards, everyone is feeling refreshed and happy and invigorated, because that is what spending “QUALITY” time with ourselves or with our friends does!
Sure the person who has to stay home with the kids draws the short straw for the week, because there are certain things that have to be seen to everyday when you are a parent. Things like dinner. That said, knowing that you will get your turn to not do it next week is refreshing in itself, and who cares if Friday night is pizza night anyway? Make it as easy on everyone as possible.
Of course, it's a little more challenging in some relationships, as some men don't seem very socially active, with a fair few not really engaging in friendships much at all. My own husband seems content with just our little family unit and the social interaction he gets at work. This does complicate things somewhat as I can hardly encourage him to spend time with people who don’t exist, or people he doesn’t actually want to spend time with. So instead I encourage him to spend his time doing other things that he enjoys outside of me. His sports, his music, his tv shows, movies and computer games…. None of which I enjoy particularly. Things which he enjoys much more on his own. I have always encouraged this sense of independence and individuality! It works for me, especially as he is happy to be the one who stays home EVERY week! Lol
Moral of the story? Encourage your partner to spend time with their mates, without you. Or to pursue other things that bring them happiness on their own. Then you will have guilt free time to spend with your friends or to pursue the other things that make you happy on your own. On top of that, your time with your partner will start to feel like a choice again, not an obligation or just a “given” because you live together and you are both home in the evenings. Maybe the key to quality time with your partner could be quality time without them? What do you think?
Do you feel resentful or threatened if your partner spends time away from you, or do you encourage it? How else do you negotiate time for your friends?
Your Best Friend ForNever