When it comes to helping a marriage last, community support is important. If your friends don't like your spouse, you may have trouble sustaining the relationship.
What happens, though, when your spouse or prospective spouse doesn't like your friends? According to the latest research into how external social relationships affect the stability of a marriage, a husband's feelings about his wife's friends can be a major factor in how well a marriage endures -- but only among Caucasian couples. The same does not hold true among African-American couples -- nor does a wife's negative opinion of her husband's friends seem problematic.
Researchers think that there are a number of complex social reasons behind the results of the study related to the way that men and women generally differ in their approach to personal friendships and what they receive from them. On a racial level, the results may have something to do with the fact that African-Americans tend to keep their most significant social relationships among family members -- while Caucasian people are more likely to value friends over family.
Finally, the entire way that couples tend to meet each other has changed -- which has also changed what happens after they pair up. Once upon a time, couples were often introduced through mutual friends, so they partially shared the same social network. Now, they may meet up largely online -- and that means they have to merge their disparate social groups later. That can cause conflicts when the couple hits it off but their friends don't all seem to like each other.
In general, the study reveals some important information that couples should consider before they get married:
- Merging two different social networks can be difficult and actually put a serious strain on new relationships.
- It may be necessary to re-evaluate your friendships and distance yourself a little from some friends if you want to preserve your relationship with your spouse.
- You can strengthen your marriage by encouraging and allowing your spouse to fulfill more of your need for companionship -- instead of relying on friends.
Human relationships are tremendously complex. Sometimes, it isn't really any one thing that leads to the breakdown of a marital relationship and a divorce. If that happens, it's important to get some good advice in order to protect your legal rights and your future.