I observe my daughter and her peers and see the delicate balance of teenage friendship; you’re in, you’re out, it’s so precarious I wonder how on earth they all make sense of it. But then I look at more adult relationships and see that there isn’t really that much of a difference in later life. Now, the friends I see most often are determined largely by geography and familiarity. My oldest friends live the furthest away, through life and circumstance and the fact that we met at University and then scattered to follow our fortunes. Since I have had children I have made various sets of friends; some have been keepers and others less so. But I am struck that as I get older I am more and more selective about who I have around me. It’s important now more than ever that I am with people who raise me up rather than lower me down. And it remains that some female friendship groups are impenetrable; cliques still exist.
Meanwhile, I notice that with each passing year (40: so far so good) there are barriers that come with even the most established of friends. The busier we are and the more complex our lives, the endless juggling of jobs, children, marriage, home and travel, I see a veneer that presents ‘how life should be’ instead of ‘how life actually is’. This is not dishonest or even deliberate, but even with my best of friends there are now conversational taboos – topics that don’t come out of the woodwork like they did when we were in our 20’s and 30’s. It’s as if the older we get, the more we have to accept that a lot of our choices are made and we must now live with them. Our capability to make significant changes in our lives is lessening. By this I mean careers, husbands, locations – the big stuff.
And no matter how close the friendship, when years and years of marriage start to add up, we are less inclined to share the gory details, out of respect to our husbands and families. I find this curious but absolutely to be the case.
However despite the reservedness that sometimes arises, I know my friends would defend and support whenever necessary. There is solidarity in time and longevity. I like the knowledge of this; the idea that if the shit hit, I wouldn’t be alone.
Having grown up with divorced parents, I don’t have a yardstick by which to measure a successful marriage. I used to think this was a hindrance but I am now starting to consider it a blessing. I have no pre-conceived idea of how established marriage should look or feel. All I know is that I am interested in how marriages fare as time goes on. I have a good friend who I have known for many years, whose parents struggled to stay together when she was young. They made it through and she observed that they did. The lesson? That even when things get rough, when you look at the person you married and wonder ‘who is this?!’, when you think you two will never be the aged, retired couple sitting on their Adirondack chairs reading the paper through spectacles, it does get better. That is love. And to my husband – who may read this and think I am talking about him – I’m not. It’s just an observation about the long haul. It takes time and effort and thought. But most of all perseverance to a greater good that is not weighed down by the day to day. Those are today’s observations on friends, love and marriage. Happy weekend.