This is an all too common scenario, even to the point of being cliché: the wife who hates her husband’s friends. And while this might seem almost eye roll worthy, like something out of a cheeky comedy – there’s a LOT of truth to it, and for some couples, it’s a real problem that is driving the marriage apart.
According to a study conducted by The Daily Mail, as many as 25% of the surveyed women admitted to disliking their husband’s friends, and believing that they have a detrimental effect on his behavior. 10% say that their husband’s friends have put a strain on the relationship, and 16% admit to trying to prevent their husbands from spending time with their “undesirable” friends.
But why all this animosity? What’s the real issue at hand here? It can’t just be that EVERY husband has annoying, problematic friends…
According to the women who took the survey (and many of the common complaints we’ve all heard), “the boys” tend to drink too much, make crude jokes, act immature, stay out too late, make sexist remarks, talk about sports too much, and on and on…
We’ve probably heard (or experienced) most of these things before – but one of the biggest complaints is that husbands simply ignore their wives when their friends are around – and THAT is a real problem.
Before we get too far into what to do about this stuff, though, let’s take a step back and a get a few things out in the open…
Understand that friendships are extremely important no matter what gender you are, and that “same gender” friendships offer a type of connection that a marriage doesn’t. This goes for both men and women. Feeling like you don’t “get” why your spouse enjoys the dynamic of their friendships with these people is, well, just another item on the list of differences between men and women.
This isn’t the case for every couple, of course, but wives being annoyed by their husbands friends for typically masculine traits is, to some degree, just to be expected – just like we can expect husbands to feel out of place, irritated, or disinterested in a group of their wives’ friends. It’s simply a matter of different interests and communication styles, which are only amplified when the group of friends gets together.
On one hand, this is an issue that (at least in minor situations) should just be overlooked. It might make you a little annoyed, sure, but understanding that your spouse’s friends are important to them – even if you don’t quite get why – is part of being a supportive spouse. As long as they aren’t spending an inordinate amount of time with their friends or engaging in destructive behavior, in most situations it’s best to try to put yourself in your spouse’s shoes, think about your own friendships, and give them the benefit of the doubt in choosing who they want to spend time with.
Now, on the other hand… Some people do have toxic friendships. Such friends can be enablers for bad habits, bad influences in terms of behavior (or even ways of thinking), or even cause direct damage to your marriage. If this is the case, something has to be done!
Your spouse probably won’t see the situation the same way you do, so it’s important not to attack them, demonize their friends, or make demands. Instead, try to make them see things from your point of view – explain the differences in behavior and help them come to the realization on their own.
If you’re on the receiving side of this – if your wife hates your friends – try not to take it too personally. Try to understand where they are coming from, and do your best to strike a balance. If it’s that she simply doesn’t like them, then you can likely find a way to keep your important friendships without subjecting your spouse to too many of their antics…
If, however, they really are damaging your life, it’s time to GET HONEST about what you want, what you’re doing, and how many of the choices you’re making are happening because of their influence.
In most cases, your spouse’s friends really aren’t anything to worry about. In fact, it could be a point of pride that your spouse has built and maintained such strong friendships. The little changes in behavior are only natural (especially for men) when they are bonding with their gender group.
If you find yourself ignoring your spouse when your friends are around – whether or not your spouse has said something to you about it – STOP IT. You don’t have to dote on them every second, but making them feel nonexistent is only hurting your marriage AND hurting their perception of your friends.
If your spouse hates your friends, do a little evaluating. Are they overreacting, or do they see something you don’t?
No matter what the outcome, talk about this stuff rationally and calmly. If it’s an issue already, you definitely are NOT seeing eye to eye – so hash things out until you’re on the same page. You might not come to a perfect agreement right away, but if you make a point to see from each other’s point of view – you’ll be a lot closer to resolving the problem than you were before.