December 11, 2012 by lucieromarin
This time last year, a married friend taught me a lesson about friendship, quite without meaning to.
It stands to reason that friendships with married people will differ from friendships with single people, simply because the world would be a pretty awful place if parents had less time for their children than they did for their single friends. The problem is that women are easily guilted into thinking that they deserve no better treatment than they’re already getting, and Catholic women (I don’t know what it’s like for men) have heard an awful lot about how married people are saving the world, which, together, can cause a more-or-less equal friendship to slide into a relationship of complete inequality – in which the married persons accept gifts but do not give them, will let you entertain their children while they socialise, but will not ask you how you are, will let you visit if you ask to, but will not seek your company, will give unsolicited advice or tell you their family news, but not lend an ear or hear your news except to sound out how close it brings to you marriage, and so on – and this will be tacitly assumed to be their right, because, as a married couple, they are doing an important work, while you, the single person, are still in waiting, and are, therefore, blessed in your opportunity to serve them.
I have, unfortunately, been trapped in a few such ‘friendships’ with married people, and only realised this after a married friend set me a different example. She has two children, studies, works part-time, and lives so far away from anywhere that all she’s close to is a Michel’s Patisserie and a whole bunch of flat earth and low skies, so she doesn’t get a whole of lot time to herself. Nonetheless, when I moved house, she knew that I had almost no one I could turn to for help, and she gave up her Saturday to that end. Now, when I say she helped me, I do not just mean that she carried a few boxes into the house and opened them. I mean that, besides carrying and opening boxes, she also gave the new kitchen a scrubbing from floor to ceiling, so that every inch of it – including the windows and inside the drawers – gleamed with sanitation. Then, she washed every piece of crockery before putting it away (and also threw out the crockery she thought I shouldn’t keep. Ahem). She cut out hours and hours of work for me; I found out later that she’d also given up the chance to go to a concert played by the Brandenburg orchestra in order to do so. She treated me as a friend and as an equal. Granted, in this case, I was a needy friend and equal, but that’s the thing – it wasn’t beneath her dignity to help me. She didn’t only notice me when I was able to do something for her; she noticed me when she was able to do something for me.
I hate to say it, but if you can’t imagine a married friend ever doing anything for you; if you know instinctively that you will never ask that friend for help (I don’t mean help with Catholic Projects; I mean help with a boring job that supports only you and for which the only glory will be in the next life) then she’s not your friend. She’s a former friend. Smile, miss her if you need to, and move on, because the real friends are ready and waiting.