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I spent the better part of August 13, 1994 bawling like an Overeaters Anonymous member standing outside of a KFC. This was the day that Sara Marie Schultz and Michael Robert Borgstede were joined in holy matrimony, where they thankfully remain to this day.

Being one of the groomsmen, the first onslaught of tears started as I recessed down the aisle immediately following the ceremony arm in arm with bridesmaid Lisa Hellyer. I started choking up halfway through the longest walk of my life, and by the time I got to the back of the church, the floodgates had officially opened.

wedding betA few hours later, as the glowing couple made their way into the awaiting getaway car on their way to a honeymoon in Gatlinburg, TN, the tears started again. Standing in the parking lot of the reception area, watching them drive away, I was such a blubbery mess that I inadvertently caused a friend of the bride’s mom to start crying, too, as she rubbed my shoulder and exclaimed “It’s wonderful to see cousins as close as you and Sara.”

At a spontaneous after-reception dinner at a local Mexican restaurant, the margaritas flowed as openly as my tear ducts. I’m sure you get the point by now. I was an oogie mess.

I would like nothing better to try convincing you that these were all tears of joy, but I can’t lie or my blogging license will be revoked. Of course, I was thrilled for them and wished them every joy and happiness in the world; but I was also shattered as I watched my best friend drive away literally and perhaps figuratively. Sara was my touchstone, and it scared me to death to think of anything threatening that bond.

Flash ahead nearly 22 years, and the story obviously has a happy ending. Though we live hundreds of miles away, we are in constant contact with each other. We’ve supported each other through deaths of parents, major life decisions, and shocking personal revelations. She is consistently the first person I turn to when I have a struggle or a joy. We’ve had rough patches, like all relationships do, but today our bond is stronger than ever.

Sadly, this isn’t always the case when friends watch friends get married and start new lives. I think it is especially difficult for those of us who are single to watch close friends take the plunge.

I think there is a certain tinge of jealousy involved both toward the friend and the significant other. We can’t help but be envious that our pals have found life mates of their own, and we certainly feel envious of the life mates in question who are seemingly replacing us in their lives. There is a fear that there won’t be any room left for us standing outside the circle of two.

Are you a single person about to watch a close friend get married? Have you already seen a friend get married and feel a sense of sadness? Here are a couple things I’ve learned over the years that might help you out.

  1. SOME FRIENDSHIPS ARE MEANT TO BE SEASONAL – This may come across as a little cold and cruel, but hear me out. We can’t possibly retain close relationships with all the friends we’ve made throughout the years. Maybe if there was a way to add a few more hours in the day or a couple dozen more days in the year we could come a little closer. But like most things in life, we are forced to prioritize and re-prioritize friendships and relationships regularly. And when friends get married or move away or the bond just isn’t there anymore, new prioritization obviously takes place. I passionately believe that God places certain people in our lives at a certain time for a certain reason. Some friendships are meant to cultivate throughout a lifetime; others reap their harvest and move on to plant seeds elsewhere.
  2. FRIENDS CAN HAVE OTHER FRIENDS – As difficult as it is for us to realize sometimes, people can survive without our constant presence in their lives! I’ve fallen into the trap thinking that if I haven’t heard from someone in awhile, they must be going through a tough time. Well, no, maybe they are just enjoying good times with OTHER people. I think we as singles have a tendency to latch on to our friends, for lack of a better term. I know for a fact I’ve driven friends away because of a tendency to expect too much of them and to make our friendship a bigger priority than they were prepared to do. It can be very humbling to realize you can’t be number one in the lives of everyone you care about.
  3. TRUE HAPPINESS IS SEEING SOMEONE ELSE HAPPY – If we are a true blue friend, our number one goal should be ensuring that our friends are happy, and sometimes that comes at the sacrifice of our own happiness and what we envision for their lives. As I mentioned previously, people change. It’s inevitable. Marriage is probably about the biggest change that can occur in a person’s life. If we witness a good friend find happiness with someone they have chosen to spend the rest of their days with, how can we help but not be happy for them? Even at the sacrifice of regular time with them.
  4. CONSIDER YOUR DEFINITION OF FRIENDSHIP – Is friendship hanging out every weekend, daily texts, and FaceTime twice a week? Or is friendship more about being available when you can and making the most of whatever time you have available? Sara and I never talk on the phone – NEVER. We occasionally text. We mostly communicate through Facebook messages. Our time together is limited – sometimes months and months go by between visits – and yet I have no one closer to me in my life. It’s the old quantity vs. quality argument. It’s a cliche because it’s absolutely true. If you are concerned that you won’t be friends with someone anymore if they get married, perhaps you need to re-define your definition of what true friendship is!
  5. A FRIENDSHIP DOESN’T END UNLESS YOU END IT – A friendship is like any relationship – it goes through stages. A single friend watching another single friend get married is going to put a change in the relationship, there’s no doubt about it. But change doesn’t mean termination. A relationship doesn’t end unless one or both of the parties involved brings it to an end. Appreciate the time you get to spend together rather than wasting it regretting that the time isn’t enough. Get to know your friend’s new spouse – rather than seeing their marriage as an end to your friendship, think of it as an opportunity to add another friend into your life.

I hope reading some of this helps! I speak from experience and varying degrees of success! But I hope my life lessons become a means for you to avoid any unnecessary drama and conflict in your own lives.

In closing, I would encourage you to be honest with your friend getting married and explain how you feel and the adjustments you’re going through during this time of transition. Remember, an addition to their lives doesn’t necessarily require a subtraction. The human heart is infinitely expandable. And if circumstances require that you go your separate ways, hang on to some great memories and use what you’ve learned to obtain even stronger friendships in the future.

I would love to hear feedback whether you’re single or married. How have you kept a relationship alive when a friend has gotten married? Or if you have gotten married, how do you continue to relate to your single friends? Your words of wisdom may help someone out there struggling.

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