Sunday, July 19, 2009

My Husband is Not My Best Friend

[Yes, I've given my blog a new look, but it's still me.]

When I was young I had a best friend. She was my favorite person in the world. We had lots of fun. Then a new girl entered the picture and my best friend eventually decided to be her best friend and to stop being my friend at all. I started high school as the loneliest person I knew and have spent the rest of my life looking for a new best friend.

I've heard women say their husbands are their best friends. I've always thought that sounded like a great situation, but how could a best friend be a guy? Best friends were the same gender as you, no?

I've been married a little over a year now and I still hear women say their husbands are their best friends, but I still don't understand it. My husband is not my best friend. He's my husband. I married him because he makes me happy, not because he'll listen to me go on and on about my family or politics or clothes or current events or the human condition. In fact, his capacity to sit and pretend to listen to me talk about those things is quite limited. He's a simple guy who just isn't that interested in what's happening to the Republican party or the best thing to put in a pasta salad. I need friends for that, usually women friends. And for the really tough life questions that I need to hash out over and over again, sometimes with tears, I need a best friend.

I like to talk for hours. Bob doesn't. He's not that big a talker or listener. I can get him into a conversation over a meal, but after we've finished eating, he wants to get up and move on. I cherish time with friends who will happily sit over a cup of tea for two or three hours just talking. And talking.

But grown-up lives don't stay the same. Over the years I've made friends with women who functioned very much like a best friend, until life changes caused one of us to move on, lose touch, drop the connection. This recently happened and I'm very much in mourning over it these days. I no longer have a best friend and I feel like the loneliest person in the world. Again.

Has anyone reading this had the experience of losing an extremely important friend because that friend began a serious relationship or got married or had kids or experienced some other huge life event, and that shifted their time commitments? Does this happen a lot to grown ups? Do we just have to get used to it?

I have to have friends. My husband just doesn't fill all my companionship needs. I'm baffled when I hear people say that their life partner is the only person they really need. Can that really be true? They need no other people in their life?

Maybe this makes my marriage 1950's old-fashioned. I remember watching the movie A Coalminer's Daughter when I was 13. Loretta Lynn and Patsy Cline are best friends and when Patsy is killed in a train wreck, Loretta wails to her husband, "Now who am I going to talk to?" I watched that and thought, "What a harsh thing to say. How does that make her husband feel, hearing that his wife doesn't feel like she can talk to him?" Thirty years later, I totally understand it. I don't believe any husband will talk to his wife for as long as she needs, every time, no matter what's on tv. For that, we need friends.

7 comments:

TomL said...

Your best friend will talk to you for as long as necessary, every time, no matter what's on tv? Maybe a bunch of them will, collectively. That's a lot to ask of any one individual, friend, husband, or otherwise.

My wife is my best friend. That doesn't mean I don't need other friends too. I'm a singer, she's a visual artist. I don't need her to sing with me for the relationship to be complete.

She says I'm her best friend, even though I know that honor really goes to one of her girlfriends that she has known way longer than me (though percentage-wise I'm seriously catching up), and who have seen each other through some pretty hard times. There is more than one kind of best friend, and I'm okay with that.

I hope you and your friends find each other again soon.

La Brown Girl said...

I always end up losing my friends. My latest best friend sort of made sense when she said that she often loses her friends because she gets lots in her world and by the time she resurfaces it's too late. I think that happens to me, too. I think some people are meant to have lots of friends, others some really close friends, and some a variety depending on the situation. I know this offers no advice or comfort to your situation. I just felt like blabbing for a bit. Lately, I've really been missing my latest best friend.

Regina said...

Tom - yes, I think we're saying the same thing: your spouse can't listen to you all the time and that's why you need friends, plural, not just one person. Maybe people have different definitions of "best friend" that allows them to say their spouse is their best friend when I just don't think that statement works for me. Or maybe I'm just not good at this marriage thing and have failed to elevate my husband to the position in my life that he should hold.

Brown Girl - I totally understand. You have my empathy. So it goes.

jennifer said...

my husband read this post to me out loud the other day. i think that was because he understands that i really need my girlfriends. it's not that i don't love and appreciate the time that i spend with him; he just recognizes that my female friends provide me a different kind of kinship than he can provide.

p.s. right now, i'm also missing my girlfriends--we've scattered all over the country since grad school.

Regina said...

Jennifer,

Thanks for writing. I think it was very nice of your husband to read this post to you.

Anonymous said...

I stumbled onto your blog and your post had me crying because lately I've felt deficient in that many I know call their spouses their best friends, but that simply isn't the case in my marriage no matter how hard I try or how many books I've read on communication. I miss my girlfriends as I've just moved and in this small town I'm having a hard time without them. Thanks for sharing; it helped.

Regina said...

Anonymous - I think most heterosexual people must be using a different definition of "best friend" when they describe their spouse as their best friend. I'm sure some women and (lots of men) really do find their spouse the one they can talk to about anything and feel true empathy and connection. But I don't believe that's the dynamic with most straight couples (same sex couples would be a different conversation, I think). Men are just too different. So don't feel bad that you can't say your husband is your "best friend." I doubt many husbands truly are.

Making new friends in a small town sounds hard. Take it easy on yourself if you haven't "accomplished" making all new friends in a short time. It often happens gradually. I'm glad if my post helped.