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.
A 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
- 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.
Chris Mursheno says
Jeff, it’s so nice to hear from someone who is still living single in this stage of life. My name is Chris. I’m 51-years-old & single and I honestly hate it!
You might be sitting there thinking, “why do u feel so strongly about singledom”? My answer is simple and encompasses essentially everything in life. Do you ever remember a show where the male hero doesn’t at the very least kiss the female love interest at all in the show/movie? When there are movies with women cops or lawyers doesn’t it seem like they are all magnificent beauties? And isn’t it always the “loser dork” who still lives at home at middle age who the “cool” married people judge & criticize?
My point here is that the media in this technological era basically controls a lot of the way we live, act and perceive things. Thus, if I haven’t been married by this time I must be a loser by today’s standards- right? And when I worked in a small office of people when did they pass the law that mandates everyone to throw $5 or $10 into the kitty for the colleague who’s having a baby? Nobody’s ever given me anything for being single except judgemental derisive remarks.
In my view I have been judged all my life by a lot of people who have been through at least 1 marriage, which they couldn’t even get right. Yet it’s me who has the problem.
A little bit about me. I’m in good physical, financial & mental shape. I earned a Master of Arts degree in conjunction with other degrees & certifications. I couldn’t find a job. So I’ve begun my own business, which is thriving in the early stages so far. I’m very mild, but ambitious. I’m not perfect nor presumptuous in any way.
But when a person is reserved or subdued, they’re perceived as weak and shy. So the answer is usually to start acting like a jerk. But that’s not me. I still and always will hold doors open for ladies. I’ll always say “please” & “thank you” & always will. And I will admit, it really makes me mad when people brag about and show off their beautiful wives, families, mansions & cars on Facebook in this “Facebook culture”. It’s as if they’re saying “look at me. You’ll never have what I have”. A majority of what’s theirs was given to them. They didn’t earn it in a lot of cases. But I digress. I don’t care what they’ve got. What I do get infuriated about is that they got the chance s I never did. And like failed marriage s people have failed at child reading. I don’t call, texting, defiant, disrespectful, drug addicts success stories. But I can think of 4 couples off the top of my head who overlook those “qualities” in their kids.
I cry at weddings too. Because it’s like I’m not worth any woman’s time. When the reality of it is if she would get to know me, I could treat her to a fantastic, adventure-filled life.
And one final thing. I do believe in the Almighty Father. I see every day all of his glorious creations. I am a saltwater aquarist & if don’t believe in God after seeing an Emperor Angel youre completely oblivious. But unfortunately in the petty climate we live in, it’s because of people who don’t practice being good human beings that I’m typing this long rant. I wish that my life could change before I die.
Christine Drews says
All really great points. It was hard for me to watch my younger sister get married and have children and for a time, until my brother got divorced, to be the only single person in my family. That whole building character thing stinks. Holidays were the worst. I really just wanted to stay home. I still have that feeling every once in a while, but it has gotten easier as I’ve become comfortable in my own shoes.
Thanks for sharing, Chris. I’m glad to hear it’s gotten easier over time. I know it’s still not easy though. You are an inspiration to me in so many ways!
Jeff Marshall says
I love comments like yours because it helps me personally realize I’m not alone in my feelings. You’re exactly right – holidays spent with family and friends who have spouses or serious significant others or even not-so-serious significant others are pretty difficult. I’ve considered trying to organize some kind of singles get-together every once in awhile but I’m not a huge fan of stuff like that either. When you’ve grown comfortable in your complacency, it’s hard to get motivated to change.
Nancy Anderson says
I went through this when my big brother, David, got married years ago. I bawled like a baby through the whole ceremony! Thank goodness I wasn’t IN the wedding so I could cry my eyes out in relative obscurity. LOL We only see each other every couple of years when one of us makes a trip but out of all my siblings, I’m closest to him and his wife. It’s changed but in a good way. Now instead of just each other – we each have one more good buddy with whom we can share everything. 🙂 What is harder though is being single when all those around you have that significant other or spouse. Day in/day out….. Maybe some day!
Jeff Marshall says
I hear you, Nancy – Valentine’s Day is the worst – a big ole pain in the rear! I’m glad to hear you are one of the success stories when it comes to you and your brother – that makes my heart glad to read that you remain so close. Weddings aren’t the most thrilling affairs for me either – I play music for a lot of them, but that keeps me occupied so I don’t dwell and depress myself too much.
Thanks for sharing, Nancy. I hadn’t thought about how it would be difficult with a sibling getting married.