Friends causing a feud?

When your spouse hates your friend, letting go of your old pal isn't the way out

woman using cell phone and husband is watchingPallavi got married to boyfriend Aninda two years back. An introvert, he had few friends of his own and didn't want Pallavi to interact much with her friends either. After they got married, she gradually drifted away from her pals.

Snigdha's boyfriend Gaurav did not approve of her best friend Shweta. He wanted Snigdha to part with her. Snigdha had a tough time trying to convince Gaurav not to make such a demand. Finally, she took a stand.

She asked Gaurav to better call it quits with her for she found no reason for breaking ties with her childhood friend Shweta. Gaurav soon realised his mistake. Though, Gaurav and Shweta still don't meet or talk to each other, he knows that Shweta is an integral part of his girlfriend's life and now respects their friendship.

Gossiping all day, enjoying pani-puri on the roadside, giggling at those not-so-funny incidents, crying on the other's shoulders, keeping each other's secrets, and calling each other up at ungodly hours to share something utterly stupid… the time spent with friends is one of the most wonderful periods of life.

But what do you do when your partner can't accept your friendships? Absolutely ludicrous as the whole suggestion may sound, many close ties go awry and wear away eventually because of 'the spouse'.

Many prefer bartering away their friendship, willingly or unwillingly, for the sake of peace in the house. "We wouldn't be married without my best friend Sumeet's support. From convincing Ekta's parents to making all marriage arrangements, Sumeet had managed it all.

Initially, my wife and Sumeet bonded well. Soon after marriage, Ekta started avoiding Sumeet; she wouldn't even come out of her room whenever he came home. He is the same guy whom she had once tied rakhi to.

Suddenly he was an 'intruder'. Everything about Sumeet—mannerisms, sense of humour, body language—would drive her mad," remembers Rohit Saluja, chartered accountant. He adds, "Now that we were married, he was needed no more.

Tired of everyday fights with my wife over the issue, I had to distance myself from Sumeet. Thankfully he understood my position. Friends like him are difficult to find. Still I had to lose him."

Sometimes, one of the partners forges bonds with the spouse's friends, leaving his/her own behind. Quips writer Chetan Bhagat, "After marriage, either your friend is your wife's friend too or he's no more your friend!"

"While I try to befriend all her friends and make them feel comfortable when invited at our home, my wife isn't nice to most of my friends. While I respect her space and relationships, I wish, she did the same," says Prakash Paranjpe, a manager.

"Whenever we had rows, he would bring up my best friend Sapna, criticising her and dismissing her as an intrusive, interfering element in my life," reveals 27-year-old Aruna Thakkar, a housewife.

Upon realising that she was causing a rift in her best friend's marriage, Sapna drifted away from me on her own. It's been two years since. Sapna doesn't even receive my phone calls," says a dismal Aruna.

Some individuals don't approve of their partner's outings with friends after marriage. So they either go out together or don't at all. Besides, some have reservations—they approve of one friend, and dismiss the others. It is as though they want to control everything in the partners' lives, starting with friends.

In one such instance, a Delhi-based couple's marriage had come to a breaking point. The rift in their relationship had to be mended by a marriage counsellor. It took time, but finally the unreasonable spouse understood that her partner had to be treated as an individual who needed his own space and freedom. She began showing more trust and understanding in the relationship. With time their bond strengthened.

"A reduced social circle leads to low self-esteem, stunted personality, limited social skills and a cloistered existence. This may lead to depressive disorders and ultimately the breaking up of a relationship.

For their own relationship to bloom, both men and women need to understand and appreciate each other's need for that private space," says Samir Parikh, senior psychiatrist at Max Healthcare, New Delhi.

Each relationship has its own place and importance in a person's life. Rather than giving in completely to your other half's wishes, give due preference to your wishes and desires at times. You need to prioritise.

It's important to chalk out means by which neither the peace at home nor the age-old friendships suffer. "Even if it means no bringing friends home, it's easier for guys to catch up with their friends outside home and continue with the friendship.

Your wife shouldn't mind that if you make her understand your point well. Calling quits isn't an ideal option," says Parikh.

Making new relationships shouldn't mean having to break all old ties or having to choose between the two. Take for instance Nitin. Despite what his wife thinks, Nitin has continued his friendship with his old friend Mukul, though they both take care not to call each other before 10.30 in the morning and after 9.30 in the night!

"It is natural for your spouse to expect to be in a 'be-all-end-all' position in his/her partner's life. However, even as people go about giving that position to their love interest, they have every right to take time out for themselves," says Madhumati Singh, senior psychologist, Indraprastha Apollo Hospital.

Relationships aren't comparable. The mantra to happiness is: strike an ideal balance in every relationship and sphere of your life.

However, you should do it in such a way that your partner understands and appreciates your relationships while being convinced that s/he is the most important person in your life. It is all about growing together, yet separately.

The flip side

Even as some individuals are dominating, insecure or demanding in the relationship, there are also those who appreciate their partner's freedom and believe in personal growth. "I thought marriage tied a person down. Not quite so.

Both my close friends are married now. And their husbands give them much more freedom and private space than my boyfriend can ever afford to," says Sunidhi Kapoor, a BPO executive. S Saxena considers himself lucky to have found such an understanding and friendly spouse.

He says, "Unlike many men who crib about their wives not giving them ample space, it is my wife who pushes me into meeting my old friends. 'One must never forget to take time out for friends no matter how busy life gets' she says."

Madhumati Singh, senior psychologist, Indraprastha Apollo Hospital New Delhi, seems to agree, "Some individuals are really supportive of their partners. They allow them their own space and time. I have seen many couples who are comfortable with their spouse's friends. This not only expands their individual friend-circle but also develops mutual respect for each other."

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Shilpi Shukla is a writer, spinning features for publications in the US, UK, Hong Kong, Australia, Singapore and India. Based in New Delhi, her eight year stint as a journalist has had her work with major publications. Shilpi loves to pen articles on her frequent travels, celebrity interviews, health, fashion, films, real estate and any other topic that catches her interest.

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