My husband and I are recently married. We are very happy and have a great relationship, except for one thing: I don’t get along with his friends. This has often led to arguments and tension between us. Is there a way to solve this problem?
It would be fair to say that the knowledge, skills and understanding required to resolve differences like the one you’ve described are essential to the success of every marriage. Many newlyweds find themselves faced with challenges of this nature soon after the wedding, and their ability to work through them together is an important measure of the strength and viability of their relationship. As we see it, this issue can provide you and your husband with a great opportunity to learn what it means to compromise and be flexible. No marriage can weather the storms of the years if each spouse doesn’t learn to give preference to his or partner’s desires from time to time.
It would be helpful if we had a little more specific information about your situation. You didn’t mention what it is about your husband’s friends that you don’t like — you merely said that you “don’t get along with them.” What exactly is it that prevents you from accepting and embracing them, if only as people who are somehow significant to the most important person in your life? Are they engaging in behavior that is immature, irresponsible or immoral? If so, we’d suggest that your husband has a responsibility to confront this issue. He needs to ask himself whether these friendships are truly good for him and for your marriage.
If, on the other hand, you simply have different tastes and interests than your husbands’ friends, we would challenge you to do the hard work of getting to know these folks and finding some common ground on which to build a relationship. For example, let’s say this group loves to talk about football but you could care less about it. Have you ever considered biting the bullet and learning all you can about the NFL — if only for the sake of your marriage? It’s a question to which you may want to give some serious thought.
There’s another aspect to this issue that we don’t want to leave unmentioned. You didn’t say anything about your faith, but if you’re a Christian you need to bear in mind that God holds you to a higher standard when it comes to your relationships with other people. Jesus didn’t tell us to love only those individuals with whom we have a great deal in common. He commanded us to love our neighbor — any person we happen to be with at any given time — as ourselves. Even though you may not share many interests with your husband’s friends, God still calls you to be patient with them, to learn to accept them and, yes, even to love them with the love of Christ.
If you’re having trouble coming to grips with this on your own, it might be a good idea to consider the option of discussing your feelings with a counsellor. We have counsellors here at Focus on the Family Africa who are available to consult with you over the phone. You can reach them Monday through Friday between 8:30 a.m. and 4:00 p.m +27 31 716 3300. Our staff can also provide you with a list of qualified Christian marriage-and-family counsellors practicing in your local area. In the meantime, you might find it helpful to pick up a copy of a book we’ve produced for young couples in your situation called The First Five Years of Marriage.