Friday, June 25, 2004

Are spouses the death of friendship?

I'm just askin.’ Honestly.
I'd be willing to bet that there isn't a person reading this, male or female (but most notably male) who hasn't lost at least one pretty good friend to somebody else's spouse.

It's funny how thoughts begat other thoughts; memories weave in and around our conscience, touching, grazing other memories, until they all seem to congeal, re-forming into a brief, but vivid place in time. One that if only for a moment, can be smelled, touched, felt. Sometimes the feelings are good, sometimes bittersweet, other times, painful.

I was commenting earlier today on another blogger's page about something entirely different, making reference to an old gymnastics buddy of mine, who I've never written about, but think of often. He's one of the only men I've ever known who was perhaps even more open about his feelings than I am.

We both have the same first name, which was also somewhat of a novelty in our friendship, but for the purposes of this story we'll call him "Skeez," which was how I used to refer to his feet, making fun of how long and flat they were (about a size 11 as I recall). Skeez was a fellow rings specialist — much taller than your average gymnast — 6'1," about 165 pounds. Skinny legs, but from the waist up, pure muscle. Talent-wise he was average, but very strong.

We were great friends and spent a ton of time together during my last two years of competition. Even after I got married, while he was still single, Michelle always encouraged me to keep up my friendship with Skeez. She insisted he come over for dinner often.

Can I just say that my wife rocks? I mean, when we got married, she immediately supported all of my friends as I did hers. I thought that was the way it was supposed to be. I assumed that was the way everyone thought. How wrong could I have been.

At any rate, around 1980, Skeez became involved with the woman who he would marry two years later. Now I wasn't stupid enough to think that our friendship wouldn't change once he found the woman of his dreams, but by the same token, I never expected to be cut off almost completely either.

Mrs. Skeez was always cordial with me, but I never got the feeling she really liked me, and to be honest, that bothers me because I pride myself on being a likeable person. And I know I never did anything to offend her. She apparently just believed that the thing for her husband to do was to retreat into his relationship with her and everything else became basically unimportant.

Over the years we got together socially as couples with the Skeez' often, but individually I rarely ever saw my friend again, and that was tough, because we'd he'd become confidant to each other on subjects guys just don't talk to their wives about. I could talk to him about anything.

It was unfortunate, but hey, that's life I guess. Yet I wonder to this day why those types of things happen. I suppose it's a combination of priorities versus insecurities. I'm not even sure how I should feel about it. Am I justifed for feeling anger toward Skeez' wife for breaking up our friendship? Is there any real reason that I should expect other women to have the incredible sensibility for encouraging their husband's friendships like my wife does? Actually that's easy — I now know how rare that one is. I'm incredibly lucky to have a wife like Michelle, who has never complained about me hanging out with mah boyeeeez.

And I guess that's the "look on the bright side" moral here. I'm just blessed. Period.

Sometime after we moved to Tennessee, I believe around 1994, the Skeez' moved to Virginia, where the Christmas letters we receive each year tell us how wonderful their lives are. The Skeez have four beautiful, homeschooled children. I've seen my friend once in the last 12 years. He seemed somewhat resigned to life, but to be honest, so was I at that point.

Life goes on, and I wish him well.

Any thoughts from the peanut galley?
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