Maintaining Friendships Across Life Stages

Years ago, when I was still single, I noticed that something weird happened as my friends got married: An invisible wedge developed between us and our friendships were tested. The same thing happened when they began having children and I remained childless. I’ve heard other women share about similar experiences, so this seems to be common.

Though it is challenging for married women with kids to remain friends with single, childless friends, it can be done. Here are tips for success.

Now that I’m married and a parent, I’m fighting to keep my friendships with friends who are single and/or childless. Why is it so challenging to maintain good relationships with friends who are in different life stages and what are some strategies for maintaining these friendships?

The challenge of maintaining friendships across life stages

Though each friendship is unique, I think there are a number of common factors that cause strain.

  • New priorities. As a wife, you likely have priorities like getting dinner on the table by a certain time, laundering your husband’s work clothes, and investing in your marriage. You weren’t concerned with these when you were single. Of course, motherhood ushers in dozens of additional priorities! These changes mean you may have less interest in activities that were once shared with friends.
  • Less free time and room for spontaneity. The new priorities associated with marriage and parenthood take up a lot of time! It becomes especially difficult to take part in long-lasting activities and overnight excursions. Moreover, you’re often unable to hang out on the spur of the moment because you must first check with your husband and arrange for childcare.
  • Need for new camaraderie. Though your old friends are wonderful and supportive, it’s sometimes nice to hang out with people who have firsthand knowledge of the joys and struggles that are unique to your season in life.

Tips for maintaining friendships across life stages

I don’t have all the answers, but here are some strategies I’ve seen help preserve relationships between friends once spouses and children entered the picture.

  • Try to talk about a wide variety of topics. It’s easy for you to be preoccupied with menu planning, the disagreement you had last night with your husband, feeding schedules, and debates about sleep training. Your friends may be more than happy to listen to your thoughts and concerns regarding these topics, but they’d probably like to talk about other things, too! Ask about their jobs, their relationships, or whatever is on their minds.
  • Adapt old routines. If you and a friend have a particular activity you did together routinely (getting coffee every Thursday, getting your nails done together each month, etc.), try to adapt this routine so you can keep it. Your weekly coffee date might need to happen only once a month. Your monthly visit to the nail salon may only be able to happen once each quarter. Figure out what works for both of you.
  • Be willing to hang out at her house or a neutral location. If you have kids, it’s often easier to ask friends without kids to come to your place instead of going to their homes. Unfortunately, if a friend always has to come to your place, this can be a strain on her and make her feel as though her place and her way of life are inadequate. Even if it is inconvenient for you, make the effort to occasionally visit her at her home or hang out in a place you both enjoy (a café, a park, etc.).
  • Don’t assume your friends can’t empathize or give sound advice. Just because a friend isn’t married or doesn’t have a child doesn’t mean she can’t be a good, empathetic listener or a wise advisor. Though she may not have personal experience with the situations you are facing, she can still support you and may even be able to give great advice because of her outside viewpoint.

Whatever strategies you use, be sure to persevere. After all, your friends will likely act as extended family members to your children. Additionally, your children will learn about friendship by watching you interact with your friends.

What things have you done to successfully maintain good relationships with friends who are in various life stages?

Shared on the following link-ups:

Growing in Grace, Capture Your Journey, Making Your Home Sing & Saturday Soiree.

Comments

  1. I hadn’t really thought about it, but I’ll bet that’s one of the reasons I’ve not been able to keep some relationships going.

    In case you didn’t see it, here’s the reply to your comment on my blog, Harvest Lane Cottage, on the post God Proclaims His Love Everywhere!.
    Oh Shannon, I’m so happy that it brought a smile. I truly believe that He shows his love in a myriad of ways if we’re only looking for it.

    I’ll be over to visit your blog in just a bit. Enjoy the rest of your weekend!
    Blessings,
    Laura

    P.S. Do you know that you’re a “no reply comment blogger”? If you use Blogger and would like to change that, here’s a post I wrote about it.
    http://harvestlanecottage.blogspot.com/2015/01/are-you-no-reply-blogger.html

  2. Hi Laura,
    Thanks for your comment. I use WordPress, but I’ll look into what you’re talking about.

  3. I’ve always had difficulty in staying close to friends when our lives have diverged (or locations have changed). Having a family of my own though likely has proven the most difficult, even (or especially) as a stay-at-home mother. Just last night though, I sent a few texts to a couple close and important people. That felt good. It also feels good to hear that they’re doing well and they still think of me, too.

    Other than the intermittent texting or phone call I may attempt, I also try to direct friends and those close to me to my blog since I share so much of my life there. This year, I’m hoping to get to travel to see a friend or two, that’d be really nice! 🙂

    • I really appreciate the convenience of text messages for staying in contact.
      I hope you do get to travel to see friends!

  4. I am going through this exact thing right now! I am the childless, unmarried one. Mostly, I just feel like I’m the only one making any effort, and it’s frustrating. There’s only so many times I can ask for to get together and be told no, before I’m going to stop asking. I was glad to see this linked up at Making Your Home Sing. Thanks a bunch for acknowledging the struggle!

    • Hi Katrina,
      I was the last of my good friends to marry and have kids. I’ve been where you are! I hope and pray things change soon.

  5. Thanks for writing this. I have been married almost 10 years, but have no children of my own. I’m blessed to be a stepmother to a wonderful 18-year-old, but my I’m still in a different place than my friends with young children. It makes it very hard to get together. Fortunately, I’ve been able to keep in touch with most of my friends by accepting that getting together a couple of times a year doesn’t mean you’re not thinking about them all the time!

    • A couple of get togethers each year are certainly better than none! I’m glad you’ve managed to maintain this contact.

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