(CBS) — If your spouse can’t stand your friends, it could have a negative impact on your marriage. Researchers looked at over 16 years of data for a 2017 study. It focused on responses from 355 newlywed couples who participated in a University of Michigan survey.
The couples were asked questions like, “does your wife or husband have friends that you would rather she or he not spend time with?”
Wall Street Journal reporter Elizabeth Bernstein wrote about how friendships can strain marriages in her column “That Friend Your Spouse Loathes Might be Hurting Your Marriage.” She says there are key differences between male and female friendships.
“Women have these intimate, deep friendships with their friends, their female friends especially. We’re going to share everything and talk. Men are gonna golf, they’re gonna sail, they’re gonna go do things together and they’re never going to talk about it,” Bernstein said.
Researchers found the odds of divorce are higher if the husband doesn’t like his wife’s friends. That could stem from feelings of jealousy, intimidation, or a fear that there’s a lack of intimacy.
Race also plays a role. Researchers found white couples were more likely to divorce if a spouse doesn’t like their partner’s friends.
So what should couples do to keep their relationships strong, even if a friend appears to be getting in the way? Bernstein says it’s important for couples to remember that there are other people close to you that will impact your relationship.
“So we often think in-laws can be very meddling but you have to understand there are friends in this marriage, they’re part of it really,” Bernstein said. “You want to understand then what is that issue. I don’t like your friends but why don’t I like them? Is she a drama queen, or she’s a bad influence, or I’m feeling threatened, you want to get at that underlying issue because even if you got rid of the friend, it’s gonna come back later.”