So here’s how it goes. You have a friend, and he/she has a significant other, and you think to yourself, hey, let’s all be friends!
It doesn’t necessarily work that way.
What inevitably happens (to us) is that I like her, and Luke thinks he could be friends with him, but as a couple, we’re not feeling the magic. The ever-so-subtle “let’s get out of here” signal is waving long before the waiter asks whether we want dessert. (No, thank you. Just the check, please, and quick.)
So we’ve had some struggles finding couple friends to spend time with. It’s almost like dating again, except that we plan together. “What if they don’t like the restaurant?” “Oh my goodness, what should we wear?” (That’s me, not Luke.) “Did they like us?” “Should we reciprocate their invitation?”
In our early coupledom, we were exhausted by this process, having intentionally left the dating game behind. Then, for a long time, we couldn’t figure out where the people our age had gone. We went to a small church that didn’t have many young couples. We had graduated from college, and the bar scene isn’t our thing, so we didn’t look for friends there. Some of our closest friends lived “back home” and were inaccessible for a quick dinner and a movie. We were at a real loss about where married-but-no-kids-yet people who lived in a 20-mile radius were hiding.
Eventually, we found a church with a young couples’ class, and we thought, “There they are!” We made some friends, but by that point, we were all working and didn’t have much time for hanging out, and now they all have babies and really don’t have time to hang out.
Both of us were raised in a small town, where we learned to form solid and lasting friendships, not just casual acquaintances. It’s just the way it works “in the country.” If your neighbor’s car breaks down, you take him to the co-op to get it fixed. You don’t get dressed up to have a backyard cookout with friends, and that line between friends and family gets pretty blurry. That value got into us, so it’s not that we are picky about friends…we just know that when we form a friendship, we’re signing up for an addition to the family. It’s a commitment we don’t make lightly.
So we have persevered through a few uncomfortable dinners because it’s worth it.
Just recently, one of my closest childhood friends and her husband moved to our town, and we have discovered that the “couple compatibility” factor is present with them, so for one of the first times in our marriage, we have couple friends who we can call on a moment’s notice and invite over to play board games in our sweatpants. Having that type of friendship reminds us that we’re not alone in our quest to succeed in marriage and life as a young couple. It provides encouragement that only a friend-turned-family can, and it helps to share life with someone else so we don’t sit in our house and forget there’s a world outside. And of course, the personality and differences of friends just adds to the adventure that can come of everyday life.