We got in trouble on the way to our last wedding.
We told a friend we were going to a “funeral.”
It wasn’t done on purpose; we were looking forward to the event. The word just slipped out. Nonetheless, we got a dirty look from Mrs. Manward… and we had some explaining to do.
But the more we think about the idea, the more we realize we were right.
Weddings and funerals… they have more in common than you think. And, believe it or not, understanding this important idea could be good news for your health.
Think about this…
We spend big money to invite all of our friends and family to the wedding… we pay for all of them to join us to celebrate the occasion… and then when it’s all over, we don’t see them again until we die.
Research shows the largest drop-off in friends in our lives occurs exactly at the point that we say “I do.”
And it’s unhealthy.
Many folks wrongly believe that they’re supposed to marry their best friend. They’re tricked into believing that once they get hitched, their need for deep relationships suddenly vanishes.
Or worse, they’re told that married folks don’t need “his” friends and “her” friends. They’re supposed to have “their” friends.
In fact, recent reports show the exact opposite is best for our health and for our marriage.
In a survey of long-wedded couples, the happiest ones reported that they received their fulfillment outside the house. They allow each other to have separate lives and separate circles of friends.
It tosses the old notion of doing everything together and finding a soul mate that enjoys exactly the same hobbies as you do into the trash.
The trick to a happy, healthy and long marriage, modern research tells us, is to have deep, trusted Connections outside the marriage.
A man must have a few men he can rely on to get the unvarnished truth. He must have a support system that’s ready to lift him up when times get tough. He must have men he can go to for advice about one of the toughest relationships in his life… his marriage.
The same, of course, is true for his wife.
Separate but Equal
We can already hear folks feverishly tapping away on their keyboards. They’re eager to email us and tell us to stop coming down on the idea of marriage.
That’s not what we’re doing.
The idea of choosing one partner for the rest of our lives is a vital and sacred choice. By far, it’s the most important relationship in our life.
But let’s be clear… marriage is tough. In many ways, it takes a community to keep the partnership alive.
That’s why we’re convinced – and so is the data – that couples must have separate groups of friends. Mutual friends are fine… but there must be more.
It’s okay to have separate hobbies. In fact, it’s good for you.
It’s okay to have a drink with the boys. In fact, it’s good for you.
And, dare we say it, it’s okay to say somebody other than your spouse is your “best friend.”
The key – as in all things – is to find a healthy balance. Of course, if you’re spending every night at the bar with the boys, your marriage will suffer. The same, though, is true if you’re spending every night with your wife.
Here’s the bottom line to this simple message:
Connections equal happiness.
To prove it, we turn to a study from Harvard. It found that social support was a far greater predictor of happiness than any other factor. In fact, the correlation between social support and happiness was 0.7… a big number considering that most scientists are quite pleased with anything above 0.3.
It proves our friends and relationships have a far greater effect on our happiness than wealth… health… and even our jobs.
It’s clear that if we want a strong marriage and a life of happiness, we can’t let our wedding be our funeral.
Keep those friends around. You’ll need them.