Question: My wife and I are recently married. We are very happy and have a great relationship, except for one thing: she doesn't get along with my friends. This has often led to arguments and tension between us. Is there a way to solve this problem?

Answer:

It would be fair to say that the knowledge, skills, and understanding required to resolve differences like the one you’ve described are essential to the success of every marriage. Many newlyweds find themselves faced with challenges of this nature soon after the wedding, and their ability to work through them together is an important measure of the strength and viability of their relationship. As we see it, this issue can provide you and your wife with a great opportunity to learn what it means to compromise and be flexible. No marriage can weather the storms of the years if each spouse doesn’t learn to give preference to his or her partner's desires from time to time.

It would be helpful if we had a little more specific information about your situation. You didn’t mention what it is about your friends that your wife doesn't like – you merely said that she "doesn't get along with them." What exactly is it that prevents her from warming up to them? Are her concerns valid in any way? Are your friends engaging in behaviour that is immature, irresponsible or immoral? If so, we'd suggest that you have the responsibility to confront this issue. You need to ask yourself seriously whether these friendships are truly good for you and your marriage.

If, on the other hand, your wife and your friends simply have different tastes and interests, you might want to challenge her – gently and sensitively, of course – to make an effort to get to know them on a deeper level. If she does, she may find some common ground on which to build a relationship with them. You could also encourage your buddies to be more cognizant of her presence and to look for ways to reach out to her when they come over to the house. Above all, take steps to ensure that she doesn't feel excluded. Make her feel like she's a part of the group. As her husband, you're in the perfect position to mediate and facilitate this kind of social interaction.

If you're having trouble coming to grips with this on your own, it might be a good idea to consider the option of discussing the situation with a counsellor. We have a staff of family therapists here at Focus on the Family Canada who are available to consult with you over the phone. You may reach them Monday through Friday between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. Pacific time at 1.800.661.9800. Our staff can also provide you with a list of qualified Christian marriage-and-family counsellors practicing in your local area.

Excerpted from The Complete Guide to the First Five Years of Marriage, a Focus on the Family book published by Tyndale House Publishers. Copyright © 2006, Focus on the Family.

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