The value of friendships?


#1

I am married now for 10 years. My wife says she used to feel like I valued her friendship but not anymore. I understand where she’s coming from because I see certain characteristics in myself that are non-typical in my opinion.

I am intelligent, methodical, analytical, and yet sensitive and emotional. I enjoy coming to these forums for the intellectual and spiritual challenges it provides (plus it would be nice to think I could affect someone else positively). But these forums are anonymous, and I feel no obligation to maintain frequent dialogue, unless I’m in the midst of a discussion.

My friendships (few as they are) are the same way. My friends and I have an understanding I think. We get together when the mood strikes, but if 6 months pass without contact, so what? We get together again and pick up where we left off. I have many more casual friends where we get together to golf once in a great while, or work on a home improvement project together.

Mostly I enjoy doing projects by myself (carving, home improvement, yard work, etc). I enjoy being alone with my thoughts, contemplating life. I don’t turn on the radio in my vehicle many times, even though I may spend several hours a day driving. Generally I enjoy talking with people much older than me, more than people my age because I find them more interesting, thoughtful, and insightful.

Okay you get a feel for the way I am. Perhaps I’d be better suited as a monk, but I’m not. I’m a husband a father of two young boys. Now I need someone to help me understand why I should place higher value on spending time with friends (hoping this may help me place higher value on the friendship aspect of my marriage since it is obvously important to her).

Thx,
Chris W


#2

Hello Chris W,

I am glad to see how concerned you are about what your wife told you and also that you are willing to do something about her concerns! That’s awesome!

Maybe you can speak with her further and really listen to what she has to say about why she doesn’t feel like you value her friendship. She may have trouble articulating her feelings exactly, but I’m sure you could get clues on what she thinks is missing.

I’m not sure that you need to spend more time with your friends in order to be a better friend to your wife. Is part of the problem that she doesn’t feel you are spending enough time with her? It sounds like you are introverted and maybe not very talkative. Does she miss the great conversations you two used to have together? Does she wish you would tell her what interests you and ask her what interests her? Does she just want some casual “hang out” time with her husband where you guys can relax, talk and laugh?

I don’t know the answer to these questions, and you might not either. That’s why I suggest talking with your wife again. And let her know that you are listening and want to work through this! That should help her to feel more confident about saying what’s on her mind.

God bless you.


#3

[quote=Chris W]I am married now for 10 years. My wife says she used to feel like I valued her friendship but not anymore. I understand where she’s coming from because I see certain characteristics in myself that are non-typical in my opinion.

I am intelligent, methodical, analytical, and yet sensitive and emotional. I enjoy coming to these forums for the intellectual and spiritual challenges it provides (plus it would be nice to think I could affect someone else positively). But these forums are anonymous, and I feel no obligation to maintain frequent dialogue, unless I’m in the midst of a discussion.

My friendships (few as they are) are the same way. My friends and I have an understanding I think. We get together when the mood strikes, but if 6 months pass without contact, so what? We get together again and pick up where we left off. I have many more casual friends where we get together to golf once in a great while, or work on a home improvement project together.

Mostly I enjoy doing projects by myself (carving, home improvement, yard work, etc). I enjoy being alone with my thoughts, contemplating life. I don’t turn on the radio in my vehicle many times, even though I may spend several hours a day driving. Generally I enjoy talking with people much older than me, more than people my age because I find them more interesting, thoughtful, and insightful.

Okay you get a feel for the way I am. Perhaps I’d be better suited as a monk, but I’m not. I’m a husband a father of two young boys. Now I need someone to help me understand why I should place higher value on spending time with friends (hoping this may help me place higher value on the friendship aspect of my marriage since it is obvously important to her).

Thx,
Chris W
[/quote]

One thing that I am impressed by is that you recognize that you are a husband and a father - you know that there is something more required of you here. I think that shows that you are a man of character and that you need to learn how to be the head of your domestic church.

Is there any kind of marriage retreat offered through your parish that could help you and your wife reconnect?


#4

[quote=ElizabethAnne] Maybe you can speak with her further and really listen to what she has to say about why she doesn’t feel like you value her friendship.

Does she just want some casual “hang out” time with her husband where you guys can relax, talk and laugh?

I don’t know the answer to these questions, and you might not either. That’s why I suggest talking with your wife again. And let her know that you are listening and want to work through this! That should help her to feel more confident about saying what’s on her mind.
[/quote]

Thanks ElizabethAnne.

We have actually talked at some length about this, and it came out through going to counseling together. Still, I don’t know what she wants. She says I only value her for taking care of the house, caring for the kids, her uturus, that she will raise the boys Catholic, and for sexual intimacy (which is pretty much non-existent these days, and which she attributes to this issue). That’s how it came out that what she feels is that I don’t care about her as a person.

I do not know how to differentiate those aspects of her. I do value those things she mentioned (I think the uturus thing is rediculous but the others are valid). But I guess I don’t know how I’m supposed to feel about her. I enjoy her company on our date nights, and we just spent an enjoyable weekend together, but by and large we are busy people.

She says people need friends and the fact I don’t feel something is missing in my life because of my lack of frequent get togethers with friends, is an indicator of something wrong with me.

I’m actually not intraverted. I’m quite outgoing in fact…very social when in that setting. But I am quite at peace by myself too.

I actually think she doesn’t like herself very much (she is suffereing from depression), but it seems like I should somehow be able to express myself in a way that responds to her insecurity in this matter. I don’t want to chock it up to her issues (which I do recognize play an important part).

Somehow I am unable (not for a lack of desire) to boost her self esteem.

Thx,
Chris W


#5

[quote=LSK]…you need to learn how to be the head of your domestic church.
[/quote]

Boy would I like to figure that out. I think she respects me, but it seems to result in a negative consequence. She’s commented before how she admires my self confidence, my knowledge about my faith, that I try to do the right thing in most cases, I provide well for our family, etc, but I feel like she actually resents it and holds it against me. Like I should feel bad that I am content with who and what I am.

I am a Catholic child of God, a father, a husband, a son, and a brother (in that order of priority). Those are what define me. It is only in the husband aspect that I question if I am doing what I should be doing.

I figure there are usually two sides to every story. Seldom is one person 100% right and the other 100% wrong. So I figure I am more than likely doing something wrong here…I just honestly don’t know what.

[quote=LSK]…Is there any kind of marriage retreat offered through your parish that could help you and your wife reconnect?
[/quote]

I think there are. And she is Catholic on the surface. But she holds more animosity toward Catholicism than she does for me I think (well maybe not more, but just as much). Just like me, the Church “makes her feel like she’ll never be good enough.” So I’ve shied away from that possibility. Maybe I should rethink it though.

Thanks for your input,
Chris W


#6

I am kind of wondering if you haven’t changed much since you and your wife were dating but perhaps your wife and her circumstances have.

You say you are the father of two young boys. I don’t know how young. But maybe your wife has had to change her life such that she is not getting a ‘friendship fix’ from her former friends and/or co-workers. Did she leave a job in order to stay home with the boys? Has she cut back on outside activites that she enjoyed either with you or with other friends? Sometimes a mother uses up all her spare time and energy on young children but when they get a bit older she starts noticing some ‘holes’ in her life. It could be hard for her to know what to do with herself now so she is looking for you to help. She may not even know she is doing so.

Your wife may feel alienated from her old friends. Chances are their lives and situations don’t feel comfortable to her anymore or they are not available at times when your wife is free. The mothers of young boys she comes in contact with may not be the kind of people she dreams of associating with.

If you are still enjoying your favorite activities and old friendships the same way and as frequently as you always have she is probably a bit jealous. You may need to step out of your comfort zone a bit to support her.

I don’t know what kinds of things you and your wife did before you married but assuming they are not incompatible with being parents you might suggest you occasionally do some of them. You be the one to arrange the babysitter.

You really can’t meet all of your wife’s needs for friendship but you can assist her to connect with people who can. If she’s wanting you to cultivate outside friendships it may be that she is really wanting that for herself. Perhaps you need to seek some couple friends with whom to associate. You may need to encourage your wife to spend time with her friends. That may mean you need to volunteer to care for the boys some evening or weekend.

You might also consider co-volunteering with your wife to be in charge of some activity for the boys. Offer to teach Sunday school or coach a soccer team. You’d be surprised how wives consider such activities to be friendship building.

I can’t promise that any of this is relevant to yours and your wife’s situation but that’s my 2 cents worth.


#7

[quote=SMHW] I am kind of wondering if you haven’t changed much since you and your wife were dating but perhaps your wife and her circumstances have.
[/quote]

Definately the case. And she doesn’t see the value that I see in her being a stay at home mom and all the work that goes into that. You hit the nail on the head with that. Last winter she said she’s not happy at home, and has now started going to college at night, but it hasn’t helped our situation yet.

[quote=SMHW] maybe your wife has had to change her life such that she is not getting a ‘friendship fix’ from her former friends and/or co-workers.
[/quote]

Great point. She did quit working to stay home. While she sees her friends constantly, they are different friends (other moms) and she doesn’t have that co-worker comraderie anymore. In fact she commented recently at a dinner party that she felt like she had nothing to contribute to the conversation because she’s “just a stay at home mom.”

[quote=SMHW] Has she cut back on outside activites that she enjoyed either with you or with other friends?.
[/quote]

Nope. Quite the opposite. She goes out with friends (or now it’s college) 2 nights a week and then again on Saturdays. She goes to Bunco, scrapbooking, stamping parties (including 3 day weekend events I’ve taken vacation days to accomodate), etc. She’s a very busy girl outside the home…searching for what will make her happy I think.

[quote=SMHW] The mothers of young boys she comes in contact with may not be the kind of people she dreams of associating with.
[/quote]

Yep, she has said as much.

[quote=SMHW] If you are still enjoying your favorite activities and old friendships the same way and as frequently as you always have she is probably a bit jealous. You may need to step out of your comfort zone a bit to support her…
[/quote]

Wow another good point. She has even commented how “lucky” I am: “now that we have kids, its all the same for you…you still go to work, get the satisfaction of getting paid for what you do, recognition for your work, etc. But my entire world has changed…and I get none of that”

[quote=SMHW] I don’t know what kinds of things you and your wife did before you married but assuming they are not incompatible with being parents you might suggest you occasionally do some of them. You be the one to arrange the babysitter…
[/quote]

I do do this, but I could do it more frequently. I was just thinking today, driving around with the radio off, that we used to play Scrabble together and stuff like that. Perhaps I should ask her to that stuff again. Good thought.

[quote=SMHW]You might also consider co-volunteering with your wife to be in charge of some activity for the boys…You’d be surprised how wives consider such activities to be friendship building.
[/quote]

Not this wife. I am very involved with the boys. In fact I’d say outside of my normal work day (just an 8-5 job) I take care of them more than she does… we do projects as a family (including her sometimes) and they are with me almost everywhere I go. On one hand she may appreciate that, but on the other hand she seems to resent that I like to be with the boys and they like to be with me.

Thank you for the insightful post. Good food for thought.

Thx,
Chris W


#8

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.