Like it or not, marriage does alter friendships. You won't love your friends any less after getting hitched, but your priorities shift. It will take time for you—and your friends—to get used to.
To help navigate post-marital friendship, we consulted Toby G. Dauber, licensed clinical social worker who practices family, group, and marital therapy at The Morris Psychological Group in Parsippany, NJ. Here's what to keep in mind to ease the transition for you—and your pals.
"The art of a young marriage is figuring out how much time you want to be alone as a couple," says Dauber. That's your priority, and that's okay. You'll figure out a new rhythm in time. Some pals may not understand what seems like a sudden shift. Don't feel guilty; this work is important to your marriage. "Boundaries and balance are key words in any relationship," says Dauber.
Stay in touch
Even though your primary focus may be on your new life for a little while, do remember to keep reaching out to your stalwart pals. "Friends can make us feel well rounded," Dauber reminds. "They provide unique characteristics for our self esteem." As important as establishing your new relationship with your husband is, don't let old friendships go. If you can't spend as much quality time together as you'd like, simply let your friend know that they're on your mind with a text or phone call can go a long way until you can.
Bring everyone together
If you're hoping to turn "your friends" and "my friends" into "our friends," look for common threads. Then bring folks together by doing something everyone enjoys, whether it's catching a game or checking out the newest restaurant on the dining scene. Your pals will make their own connections, but they'll tend to be more open when coming together over shared passions. It's good for your relationship, too: "Blending friends is a complement to a relationship, as you can watch your spouse engage with your friend and notice what you like about him so much," says Dauber.
But don't force the issue
While one convivial crew can be a blast, there's great merit in some separation. There will be times where you'll both need the companionship and perspective only an old friend can provide. "Not every friend will be a 'couples friend'," says Dauber. "What is important is for the couple to have their own special rituals that makes each other feel close, even when apart."
Jolène M. Bouchon is a freelance writer and regular contributor to Brides.com.