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On Guys And Friendships (We're Not Losers, Really) – What Your Husband Wants You to Know

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Another week where Ryan shares his perspective on marriage. I have talked to a lot of women who wonder why their hubby’s don’t have many male friends. I will tackle friendships next week from my perspective but I think this is a great one.

Several years after getting hitched and beginning to have kids, Jill and I moved to Grand Rapids, Michigan, where I grew up. We moved for several reasons (mostly because of my job and because the Red Wings are the greatest freaking hockey team ever) but one of the reasons that I looked forward to being back was being able to spend some time with my old high school buddies who I rarely saw when I lived in Chicago. These guys and I have lived through it all, seeing each other at our best and worst (mostly worst, which was great fun), and when we’re together, it’s like we haven’t missed a beat. I knew it would be great to be back in GR to catch hockey games, root on the Spartans (Go State!) and have some cookouts.

Fast-forward six years. I’ve probably see them twice a year, and when we’re together, it’s always with the wives and a billion little kids around. Not that we don’t love to get the families together, but what happened to “guy time?” In fact, I’ve seen a few of them more in other cities over the past few years when we were attending weddings than I have when we’re in GR. Now I’m a pretty social guy, and I began to wonder, “Why do I never just hang out with my guy friends?” So I began to ask around a bit. I asked some of my old buddies and other men from work and ultimately came to the conclusion that while guys do spend some time out with other guys (happy hour, golfing, etc.) very few of us are able to invest heavily in close friendships as we get past our twenties. We’re not losers (or so we tell ourselves), but instead are victims of the modern married social life.

So here’s my theory. A guy makes good friends in high school. Then after high school, he is able to expand his social circle even further until he’s got a good, thriving social life. Then – wah, wah, wah – he meets his future wife (yep – that’s you, Yoko) and soon becomes Mr. Lame, registering for flatware while other, cooler guys are fishing or watching Japanese game shows. As marriage progresses and kids appear on the scene, the Yokos seem to be uniting, meeting each other through their kid’s school activities and bonding while watching soaps and grazing on bon bons, but the guy has a new world order. This order consists of two competing sets of priorities – his desired priorities and his scheduled priorities. Based on his Outlook calendar, his scheduled priorities look something like this:

Priority 1 – work

Priority 2 – wife

Priority 3 – kids (as time progresses, #2 and #3 may swap order)

Priority 4 – church life (occasionally he thinks, “Wait, shouldn’t serving God be #1?” Only if you can do it at work, cuz that’s where you’ll spend 2000 hours of your year, sucka!)

Priority 5 – his parents

Priority 6 – that “honey do list” (see, Priority 2)

…Priority 27 – friends.

Now I’m not suggesting that this is how things should be. Ideally, men should invest in friendships and in their church communities where they can make new friends. But what I’ve described above (short of the tongue-in-cheek reference to the bon bons) is reality for most guys, and deep down, I’m not sure most of us are fully satisfied with seeing our good friends so little.

So what can be done to improve things? Well, I’m still looking to figure this out myself, but I’ve reached two conclusions. First, a lot of guys who are trying to serve their families will willingly neglect friendships indefinitely. You might ask your husband if he feels like he gets enough time to bond with good friends. Jill has done this and it’s a great blessing to have your wife encourage you to spend time with your buddies. Now, I know that some husbands are hitting the links every weekend, and if yours is one of them, you can skip this part, but if he seems a little isolated, you might raise the topic.

Second, while most guys can’t stand the idea of Christian men’s groups, they are the probably the best way for guys to connect with other guys. They can be scheduled over breakfast, rarely involve heavy amounts of alcohol, and can provide good accountability when priorities take the wrong turn. I’ve been in many of these groups over the years, and even led one awhile back, and my recommendation is that it’s best to encourage guys to join one that already includes one of their good friends. That’s not always possible, but it significantly increases the chances that they’ll stick with it.

In fact, the guy I led a men’s group with in Chicago just let us know that he and his wife are moving to Grand Rapids! He’s a fantastic guy. I look forward to hanging out with him one of these years.

You can find all the Marriage, Unwrapped posts here

Comments

  1. This is really great. My husband didn’t have the best high school/college friends {wasn’t saved at the time} so when we got married, I really didn’t want him to have anything to do with anyone he knew. Thankfully, we lived 1000 miles away from our family and old friends. We got into an amazing community of believers, where the guys really focused on guy time. Lots of camping trips, early morning hikes, late nights watching basketball games and all the other stuff that make me cringe if my husband asks me to do. ;) But it has been a huge blessing in our lives for us to both make and keep our friends. Helps us stay sane in these crazy toddler/preschool years, and allows for us to do what we really enjoy {like moms only dinner for me, and homerun derby for him}.

    In fact, my hubby is out tonight. And I’m sure he’s talking about the Davis Cup with his guy friends, because when he tried it with me at dinner, my eyes glazed over.

    • Mr. Diaper Diaries says:

      That’s awesome – sometimes a fresh beginning can really bring a couple together and open up a new world!

  2. Excellent. It can be hard to not be selfish with my husband’s time, but I try to give him as much guy time as he needs. Thankfully he has been in a faith sharing group with a great group of men for 7 years now. They meet once a week at 6:00 a.m. so it doesn’t interfere with family time at all. Even when he doesn’t go for a while he knows he can just come back anytime. These are the men he is most likely to spend time with doing typical guy things too, which means I can trust the time is spent encouraging each other to live the life God has called them to. But it is still hard to be as generous with giving him time as he is with giving me time.

    • Mr. Diaper Diaries says:

      Wow, 6am – he’s devoted! That would make for some groggy accountability talks!

  3. This is such great insight and something my husband and I have talked about repeatedly. He finds it hard to even get together with his brothers because of those top 3! He too has found breakfasts to be the best times to meet up with guys and that he has to be intentional about asking guys to meet up with him, which isn’t easy if you’re an introvert! I try to encourage his community whenever and wherever possible…and go easy on the honey do lists!

  4. My husband is an introvert as well, and in seeking guy friends, he started inviting guys out mountain biking as that is one of his loves. It ended up forming into a huge men’s group where accountability and depth were happening every week. Some of those guys are still his closest friends years later, even 2000 miles away (soon to be only 10+ miles away). :) Thanks for sharing Ryan!

    • Mr. Diaper Diaries says:

      That’s great. Jill and I always tell couples in marriage prep that there’s no substitute for shared experiences. A bunch of guys trekking off-road qualifies!

  5. my husband is too focused on his friends! he spends more time with them than i’d like – but they’re not the best guys in the world – which is why it bugs me so much. i’m trying to get him to invest in friends that are more worth while and we’re trying to find a church that feels better to us so we can get to know people there as well.

  6. My husband wishes he had more friends, but he has one good friend from high school that he talks to on a regular basis. He has acquaintances around here. Ultimately he is kind of satisfied by this, because although he desires friends, he doesn’t want to waste his time with guys he doesn’t have a lot in common with. What’s the point and all. And realistically he knows some guys at work who DO spend a ton of time with their male friends, hitting the bar weekly and even taking vacations (without the wives) a few times a year (and some a lot more often than that…). He looks down on these men — family should come first!! And to him, it does.

  7. Patricia says:

    Obviously this article contains no scientific findings, just a mere opinion of an unhappily married man. Work is a part of life, no doubt. No one is pointing a gun to your head saying you have to marry a nagging wife, have children, and lose your network of friends. If that is happening to you, or if you are that husband, than only you are to blame for your situation. If you have a family and still want to enjoy your friendships, what is stopping you? Pick up the phone and make plans with your friends. Don’t blame everyone else for it.

    I am a working mother and have the same responsibilities as anyone else with a family. I don’t like how you’ve stereotyped wives to be nagging, sit at home eating bon bons, selfish people. If this is how your wife is, you’ve said your vows to this woman so you must live with it.

    • Patricia, I think you may have missed the point of this post.

      And do you realize that the author’s wife is the owner of this blog? And that they have been co-writing this marriage series for quite a while? And that they are clearly happily married? And oh yeah, have taught marriage prep classes at their church for years?

      Ryan wrote this post in a FUNNY, albeit sarcastic, tone – and he meant the parts you took offense with in jest. It’s too bad you missed all that, not to mention the great insights that he and Jill post about marriage on a regular basis.

    • 1-The bon bon reference was SPECIFICALLY noted as tongue-in-cheek.
      2-You snarkily told him to do something about not having regular friend time…when the whole article’s point is how to do that without neglecting other responsibilities?
      3-What about parenthood and family and relationships in general is scientific? We glean the best advice from the experiences of others. Not scientific journals.

    • Mr. Diaper Diaries says:

      Thanks Mary. Patricia, she’s right – I wrote this to be tongue-in-cheek, not to be disparaging. Sorry if it misled you. Cheers.

    • Hi Patricia,

      Wow. It couldn’t possibly be more obvious that you’re new here. Might I suggest a little “blog comment etiquette 101”?

      1) Say unto others… you know, kind of like “do unto others…” you know that one, right?
      2) READ the post before you comment. Picking out random words like “nagging” and “bonbons” without context never ends well for anyone.
      3) Stick around (quietly) for a while and get to know Ryan and Jill, a very obviously, very happily married couple. Hilarious, too! They’ll make your day brighter. Although, based on your comment, I’d say that wouldn’t be much of a challenge.

      Cheers!

  8. I think you’ll find it easier to make time for friends as you children get older. My kids are now 10 and 7 and I can say a few years ago it felt like I didn’t have a lot of friends or time to spend with the ones I did have. Now we have a lot of friends and it is easier to socialize with the kids or without the kids. There is a time and season for everything, try to enjoy all of them.

    • This! When my girls, (22 months apart), were little, I hated going over friends’ houses with them. It was practically impossible to sit and visit with my friends-the kids wanted to explore all the new stuff to touch, and it was just more stressful than staying home. Now they are newly 8 and almost 10, and it is SO much more fun and less stressful to maintain friendships.

    • Megan L says:

      Exactly what I was thinking. And hoping is true :). With little little ones in the house, it is not the best season to try to develop new friendships. My husband and I try to have a couple over for lunch once a month, but other than that I’ve accepted the fact that neither of us are going to be great socialites until we’re done adding to the family and the youngest is at least 5. I used to feel really bad, let down, etc,, that I didn’t have a circle of women friends, but then I realized I was just stressing myself out. Someday!

  9. Yes, unfortunately work and family life does get in the way good fellowship for my husband as well. Most of his “guy time” is playing PS3 with online friends in the morning before work while the baby and I are still sleeping! I would love for him to be be able to join a men’s group of some sort. Unfortunately, his job doesn’t allow for much free time. Maybe some day…

  10. Wish my hubby could find a bit more “guy time” in his crazy work schedule, but the Army’s just not too forgiving on that end… Although I guess spending months on end in a desert with a bunch of guys could somewhat count as guy time; huh? ;) I’m thankful that we have been blessed with a strong, encouraging church family in our current location, as well as the one previous. And both have offered both of us a fabulous network of support and interaction – whenever we can actually find/make the time to participate! Great post, Mr. Diaper Diaries! Thanks for sharing! ;)

  11. Ummm, wow…this earned y’all a troll comment? THIS?? That makes me sad. So thankful Mary and Amy have already addressed it.

    I guess that means y’all are doing something “right” :).

    In any event, relationships are HARD as you grow older; what came so easily early in marriage is challenged by commitments and priorities; no relationship happens without some type of intention, and acknowledging this as a season in parenting/marriage is helpful.

    Jill, Ryan…keep doin’ what you’re doin’…people are encouraged by your words and example! :)

  12. Ryan – This is an excellent post and very true. My wife is a regular follower of the blog and forwarded this on to me today. Like so many others, I have a group of friends from school that have been through thick and thin. Even though my career has me meeting people and establishing relationships on a constant basis, I never really feel like I have enough time for guy friends…sometimes even guy family! The trick, as you mentioned in one of your replies, is to focus on quality over quantity. That and understanding what times work best [NOT the BBQ with the 100 kids!] will allow a guy to really get involved with his friends.
    I have to admit that I am lucky – My best friends from Jr. High are still my best friends and have become believers along the way, I serve with an awesome group of men in my church, and have even more blessing with a wife that is supportive of the online gaming time, discipleship coffee meetings, etc.

  13. Mr. Diaper Diaries says:

    Awesome. Thanks Russ!

  14. I kind of have the opposite problem…
    When we got married we moved near my family and all my friends. I had a good group of mixed friends from high school and thankfully he got along with the guys really well… so well that he would like to hang out with them all the time. They do have an accountability group that I’m happy for him to be part of. Every other week for dinner and talking… which means he doesn’t come home on those nights until late (goes straight from work). And then he wants to go hang out with them usually on a weekend night which means he’s gone just after dinner and comes home in the wee hours.
    I sometimes feel like I’m being petty, but I have nagged him about this to where he now “only” goes about every other week. When we were first married it was even more, but now we have 2 boys and usually at least 2 other week night commitments and I just want some family time at home.
    I’m very glad he has guy friends, but (as in this week’s post) we don’t have any couple friends and I often end up feeling like I’m home “again” with the boys while he’s out playing. (like tonight)
    Another guy’s perspective?

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