I’ve heard from so many guys that once they got married, they stopped spending time with anyone other than their wives. There seems to be a common misconception that once you are married, the only relationship that matters is the one with your wife, and then eventually your kids. But it’s great for you and your marriage to have appropriate relationships with people other than your wife. It’s impossible and unhealthy to expect your wife to meet all your relational needs. We all need marriage support.
Dr. Sue Johnson states, “We now ask our spouses for the emotional connection and sense of belonging that my grandmother could get from a whole village.” When we live in communities of two, it puts too much relational pressure on a marriage. Given the way many people live today, we often have to construct our own village. We need a village of people who are for our marriages. Here are 4 types of people your marriage needs.
OK, I get it. Often, time with extended family can be tricky. But I think we must balance healthy boundaries with healthy relationships. Our families of origin contain the memories of our childhood. While not all childhood memories are good ones, they were mostly likely shared by people who loved us very much. To stay connected with family in a healthy and intentional way helps keep us grounded. When we share our burdens, successes, and time with our parents and siblings, there can be a relational richness that can’t be found otherwise. This connection can pour into who we are, giving us more to give to our wives.We need a village of people who are for our marriages.
The lack of staying connected or having friends is the one I hear most often from married guys. According to a 2020 survey by Cigna, 61% of men in the United States report feeling lonely. While we must balance spending too much time with our friends, men need other men. I have several different friends I hang out with for different reasons. Eddie is my friend when I need to talk. Kevin is my friend when I need to just have fun. Todd is my friend when I need someone to pray for me. But all three of these guys don’t just have my back; they have my wife Nancie’s back too. They often tell me what I need to hear, not just what I want to hear.
We need other married couples in our lives; they offer an important level of marriage support. Off and on for the last two decades, my wife and I have been in a small group with other married couples from our church.
During the on times with our group, we experience friendship, laughter, accountability, and growth as a couple and as individuals. During the off times, without our group, we had less of all those things. Why would we let a busy schedule rob us of that? And let’s keep it real, it’s not like we are rock stars or the president. We can make the time.
As someone who has been working to help married couples for two plus decades, I’m still amazed at how we married couples try to wing it. Prior to getting married, most of us had never been taught how to be married. It’s the most important relationship of our lives, and we often live with the attitude of “I got this.” But we all have times in our marriages when we have got anything but “this.” There are experts who can help us, encourage us, and even help save our marriage. But it’s not always easy to find or ask for help. So during the challenging and non-challenging times, make the brave move to read a marriage book, go to a marriage retreat, talk to a counselor or clergy, or get a mentor couple. The answers are there; go get them!
Sound off: From which kinds of people are you already getting marriage support? How does it help your marriage?
Huddle Up Question
Huddle up with your kid and ask, “Who is your favorite adult other than your parents?”