Yesterday morning, Mr.JB was feeling very affectionate and lovey, and on his way out the door, he kissed me and told me I was his “best friend”.
Aww. How sweet.
First of all, you should know that he’s leaving on Sunday to attend a conference in a really big, glorious, proper city, and he’s giddy with joy at the prospect of getting out of our little town. Mr. JB is a city boy at heart, and there is pretty much nothing he loves more than the sound of traffic and sirens and the sun bouncing off skyscrapers and the hustle and bustle of millions of people shoving their way down crowded sidewalks.
Me? Not so much.
What he really wants to say is “See ya later, hillybilly! I’m outta here!”, but it comes out as a smooch and “You’re my best friend”.
It’s straight-up bullshit, but funny bullshit, so I don’t mind. But it did get me thinking….
Mr. JB is a great guy, obviously, and I love him to pieces, but he is NOT my best friend. My best friend is Pixie, by far, followed by GloryGirl, SuzyQ, SnowWhite (who is in France for the year with her husband and kids, but she’ll be back in September), JudgyAsshole, Prince Charming, CleverGuy and NurseRachet. Those eight people form the core of my circle of friends. They are the ones I complain to, ask for advice, laugh with, discuss endless amounts of minutiae and just generally share the details of my life with.
On the one hand, it would be awesome to be married to Pixie. She does laundry! And she cooks! And she sends the most hilarious ecards about how much cooking and laundry sucks! We spend many days counting down the hours until wine o’clock and no one appreciates my contempt for internet assholes quite like Pixie.
On the other hand, I wouldn’t like to fuck her. Oh, she’s super cute and hot and has awesome hair, but the whole girl thing doesn’t do it for me.
So there’s that.
After the “best friend” comment yesterday, I thought I would try a little experiment on Mr.JB to see just how good a friend he is. I copied and pasted him, the whole morning, on all the texts I sent to Pixie. Here are the main issues in my life at the moment:
The hamster is loose in the ductwork. (Don’t ask, it’s a long story).
The stitch marker fell out of the slouchy hat I’m making for LittleDude, and now I’ve lost my place and the whole thing is fucked up.
Who the fuck gives a four year old Sharpie markers? How do I get Sharpie markers off the coffee table?
Do these yoga pants make my ass look fat?
I don’t have any lime juice to make the barbacoa. Can I use lemon juice instead?
What the fuck is wrong with Amanda Marcotte?
The Catching Fire trailer will be out on April 14th! Squee!
Do I have to wait until the kids get home from school before I have a drink?
On a scale of one to ten, how hot is Chris Hemsworth?
Just as I predicted, shortly after 11AM, my phone rang. I have a special ringtone for when Mr. JB calls: It’s the Imperial Death March from Star Wars, and when I hear it, I know this shit is serious. He never calls unless it’s really important.
Dear, what is all this bullshit you are sending me? Am I supposed to do something about this?
Then of course, I drop the F Bomb.
But I thought you were my friend! My best friend! Don’t you want to know how my day has been?
Let’s not be friends.
You see, I think there is something totally and utterly destructive in the notion that your spouse should be your friend. Your best friend, even. Friends are people who share your interests and who are going through some of the same stages and having the same issues and confronting the same obstacles that you are.
And sometimes, when friends pass into different stages of their lives, the friendship loses some of its intensity and value and there is a disconnection and often those friendships drift into fond acquaintances and that’s it.
Graduating, getting married, having children (especially having children), buying a house, moving cities, moving countries, changing jobs, managing health problems – all those things can change a friendship into something less.
Sometimes, it’s just time to move on.
I’m incredibly fortunate that my best friend has been my best friend for almost 20 years now. Pixie and I have been inseparable since our first year at college. I’ve known SuzyQ for 13 years. CleverGuy’s older brother was the best man at my wedding, so while I have only known him really well for 5 years, I have known his family for a long time.
CleverGuy is a really good friend. I can talk to him about tons of stuff that doesn’t interest my other friends, but he is about to graduate from an engineering program, and who knows where he will end up? If he moves very far away, we’ll still be friends, but not as close as we are now.
And that’s okay. That’s life.
Friends fill in little voids in your life that your spouse either isn’t interested in, doesn’t care about, or just can’t fill in! There is no way Mr.JB can ever appreciate how valuable cimmaron is when making Mexican-fusion dishes. JudgyAsshole, who is a wonderful cook, can. JudgyAsshole’s dad has brilliant advice about flower arranging. No way in hell Mr.JB will EVER have an opinion on that subject.
At the moment, I happen to give a shit about those topics, and I am lucky to have friends who can share those interests with me. It’s conceivable that my interests will change in the future, and I’ll need a different set of friends to reflect what’s new in my life.
And that is absolutely a two way street. I don’t care what Mr.Jb’s Xbox score is. I don’t give a shit which part of the budget will be used to fund a new hire. I do NOT want to watch Naked Gun. I don’t give a fuck how much trouble linen pants are. Text your friends, dude. Don’t bother me with this shit.
But what happens when your spouse is your friend, and your interests change? Then what? You start feeling disconnected, alienated, lonely. When you ask your spouse to meet your needs as a friend, you run the very real risk that your needs will change, and your spouse won’t be able to meet those needs.
That’s a tragedy. The solution is NOT to trade in your spouse for a new one. It’s to STOP asking your spouse to be your friend.
So if Mr.JB is not my friend, what is he?
It’s very simple: he’s my husband. I’m his wife. We are partners in an enterprise that matters deeply to both of us: our family. Of course, we have shared interests and I find him hilarious and fun to be with and when he’s gone, I miss him deeply. He’s also really great to have sex with. But ultimately, we are partners, not friends.
If all my friends were to suddenly disappear, I would indeed be very lonely and sad and unhappy. But that wouldn’t be my husband’s fault, nor would it be something he could solve. Getting rid of my husband wouldn’t change the fact that I am friendless. It would just mean that I am without the protection of a partner.
And it would mean, that in a very real way, I would lose most of my most cherished memories. In a long term partnership, like the one we have, we are the repositories of one another’s memories. Our shared life together exists in one another’s minds. Our life is a tapestry of tiny threads, woven together, into a work of beautiful art.
Chains do not hold a marriage together. It is threads, hundreds of tiny threads which sew people together through the years.
I don’t need my friends to create art. I just need my fellow weaver. When I find the work frustrating or irritating, I don’t turn on my partner or throw away the whole project. I text my friends.
That’s what friends are for.
Now, does anyone have any ideas about how to get the hamster out of the air ducts?
Lots of love,