The first rule of Wife Club is that your husband is more important than your girlfriends.
I thought this today when I was replying to a "Dear Auntie Seraphic" letter. My reader was (not surprisingly) worried that once her best friend marries their friendship will change. It will. But my reader was also worried that her best friend will ditch her entirely. She won't.
It may look like I've ditched all my best friends by running away to Scotland, but in fact I haven't. If they want to come to Scotland, they can certainly stay with me, and if they send me an IM, I am usually there, and if they poke me on Facebook, I usually poke them.
I send them Christmas cards, Christmas presents and--to a lucky single few--Valentines Day chocolates. I write--or reply to--emails. I go back to Canada once a year and do a two-city tour. Meanwhile, I remember that three of my American friends of Toronto days left their friends and families behind when they married Canadians. My gain was some American women's loss.
But yes, of course, here I am in Scotland, and there my best friends are in Toronto. I may never tell a risque joke again. I made one (or two) teeny-tiny off-colour comments to good friends here after one Sunday's unusually solid drinking and I lived to regret it, as you will discover in another post.
And I am here in Scotland not because Scotland is more beautiful than south-central Ontario (which it certainly is) or because the standard of living is better (which it certainly is not) but because my husband is a Scot and he clings to Scotland like a barnacle to a boat.
In short, my husband is more important to me than all my other friends. And anyone who belongs to Wife Club understands that.
To tell you the truth, there is no such thing as "Wife Club" or "the married world." Despite how it feels some days, there is no conspiracy amongst all married people everywhere to keep single people out of anything. There is nothing to be kept out of, except individual marriages, into which no-one should peek and pry uninvited.
I have single woman friends, and I have married woman friends, and the only difference is the rule I ascribed to my imaginary Wife Club. Married women friends--unless they are unhappily married--know that husbands are more important than women friends, and single women friends don't always get that.
Single women, while making female friends, often lead with their need. Imagine emotional need as invisible tentacles. Imagine yourself (if you are a Single woman) as a cute amoeba-type creature. Okay, now imagine yoursef floating about in a sea of other amoebas, waving your tentacles about. When you see amoebas just as cute as yourself, and they see you, you wave your tentacles, and they wave their tentacles, you grasp each other's tentacles, and then you all go out for cocktails.
Most of married women's tentacles tend to be tied up already. A goodly percentage of our emotional needs are being taken care of, and a goodly percentage of our time is already taken up by attending to the emotional and physical needs of our husbands and children (if applic.). And, therefore, we have retired from the economy of single women friendships, which is at least partly based on women tending to other women's emotional needs in exchange for having one's own emotional needs taken care of. As most women know, there is a delicate balance here, and the worst thing a woman can say of another woman to another woman is "She's so needy."
Single women who want to be friends with married women, therefore, have got to be careful not to look needy, and married women who want to be friends with single women friends, therefore, have got to learn to be patient with what now looks to us like neediness. In the business of married life, it is easy to forget what it is like to be single.
The first rule of being friends with a married woman is remembering that her husband comes first, her kids come second, and you are lucky if you make third. It is probably easier for single women to be friends with housewives then with married women with paid careers because married women with paid careers simply don't have time. They're tired, and if they have children, they are exhausted.
Incidentally, as a married woman, I've discovered what most determines my day-to-day friendly interactions is geography. I see most often those people who live or work within two miles of my house. Fact. And so it makes perfect sense that my favourite cashier at the supermarket showed me photos of her son's wedding. I see the woman up to three times a week. This is more often than I see any other individual woman. (Crikey!)
One thing I must stress again and again is that Single people have more freedom any anyone else. Married women are not free. Married men are not free. Cloistered nuns and monks are not free. Priests are more free than married men, but they are super-busy. Therefore, if you are Single and want to be friends with these people, you must understand that you are going to have to do more of the work. You will have to do more of the work because they are already working as hard as they can for the people they have promised to care for.
Sometimes this will seem very sad. Yes. But this is how life is, and this is how life needs to be.