When I got married, one of my oldest friends wrote on her card, “I am so glad you married someone so cool!” When she got married a year later, luckily I felt the same way. I know we’ll be friends for a long time, because I think she married someone that brings out the best in her, and she’s making happy life choices as a result.
I wish all of my friends fell into this category.
Many years ago, I watched a friend leap into a marriage at an extremely young age. I knew that her life goals were different than mine; all she ever wanted was to get married and to have children. At times, with my topsy-turvy yet rewarding career, I often envied her simple life goals. However, I couldn’t help but fear that she was rushing into a lifelong commitment to the first guy who was gung ho about marriage too.
As the years went on, something shifted in my friend. I watched her husband talk down to her frequently, and her behavior changed as a result. He would say things like, “Is that the shirt you’re wearing tonight?”
“Yeah, I like it,” she’d say.
“Uhh, OK, well, if you like it…”
While that may not seem so bad, what angered me about comments like this was that he wanted to plant a seed in her that she looked bad, without telling her that she did. And he always made sure to say things like that in front of her friends.
She started acting more insecurely, as a result, and was not the person I used to be friends with. She spoke with less confidence, and let him run the show. When spending time with them, I always held my ground with her over-competitive/argumentative husband, but always left feeling angrier. Board games were a nightmare, as he would fight over every little rule, looking for ways to assure that he would beat his wife and my team at all costs.
Naturally, I started pulling back from seeing her. I often attempted to see her without him, but even then it pained me to see the shell of the person I once knew. I understood that she had to be happy with some aspects of her life; she had children, she owned a home, she was married just like she had always wanted. But I saw a change in her after she married him that I just couldn’t shake.
It’s been about 10 years since their wedding, and we hardly speak at all. They are still married, and I really hope she is happy. But I often fantasize about bringing back the vivacious, joyful girl I once knew. She did teach me a lesson through example however … because I watched her rush into what I believed to be a bad decision, I waited a long time to get married, even though I experienced serious relationships. I watched a lot of friends marry before me, and although I was envious, I had other things going on in my life to focus on.
And when I finally got married, the man I chose to spend my life with made me feel more confident than anyone or anything ever had before. Almost all of my friends personally told me how much they liked him, and he played fair and square at board games. I invited my friend and her husband to our wedding, and was moved that although we barely speak now, they came so far to be there for us as we took our vows. She looked beautiful that day, and I really hope I wasn’t the only one who told her so.