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Gearing Advantage

Doctors Sylvia and Milton Gearing have been serving the Dallas-Fort Worth area since 1985 with compassion and professionalism.

The Gearings implement the latest in psychological research to stay at the cutting edge of their field and bring the most effective and life changing techniques to their clients.

Their methods and strategies have been sharpened over the years, and are now built upon Gearing Up’s Three Gears of Change.

After My Best Friend's Wedding - Jul 30, 2006

After My Best Friend's Wedding

July 30, 2006

Dr. Sylvia Gearing, CBS 11 News

With the summer wedding season here, many newlyweds are finding that maintaining their close friendships after the wedding may present more challenges than they thought. Here to tell us more is psychologist, Dr. Sylvia Gearing.

Q: How common is it to experience friendship problems after the wedding?

Dr. Sylvia: It is a very common problem that few people really discuss. It is confusing when your best friend "breaks up" with you at your happiest moment. Psychologists report that this problem is growing every year since American couples are waiting longer than ever to marry. By the time those wedding bells toll, both partners have had almost thirty years to accumulate a huge number of friends who must now learn to share the newly married individual with an intimate partner.

Q: How serious a problem can this be for newlywed couples and how does it hurt a new marriage?

Dr. Sylvia: Losing your best friend or several of your close friends is a definite reality after you walk down that aisle and it can be devastating. All of a sudden, you are classified as "attached" and your single friends may begin to exclude you. These rejections can cause huge problems in a new relationship because the loss introduces too much change during a naturally tumultuous time. You may begin to miss the single life.

Q: There are many life changes we experience such as graduations, relocations or having kids. Why is the marriage such a major time of change for the friendship?

Dr. Sylvia: All friendships are developed within a certain set of circumstances. As those circumstances shift, the friendship must shift with them. Marriage is particularly challenging for friendship because it interrupts the previous time devoted to just the friend. All of a sudden, there are three people interacting, not two.

Q: Do close friends have a harder time adjusting than casual friends?

Dr. Sylvia: Without a doubt, your best friend will face the greatest challenge because they have the most to lose--time dedicated to just them. The mark of a true friend is the person who loves you and accommodates your new circumstances, no matter how much they change. All of a sudden, your most intimate confidences are shared with your partner, not with your friend. The greatest advice is now elicited from your spouse. However, in the end, the mark of a true friend is the person who accommodates your new circumstances--no matter how much theirs may remain the same--and embraces you and your new life.

Q: What happens when extreme jealousy occurs?

Dr. Sylvia: Jealousy is usually a gradual process that occurs as the individual moves into partnership with their fiancé or new spouse. It is usually provoked by the following reasons:

1. Feeling Rejected: The friend may feel they have been replaced by a new confidante. Feelings of abandonment are extremely common here.

2. Envy: The friend is jealous that your life is changing while they may still be searching for a partner or in an unsatisfactory relationship.

3. Moving On: Research reveals that engaged and newly married people bond with their partner's family. All of a sudden, the newly wed may not make the friendship a priority. If you are still single, traditions of friendship such as "girl's night out" may diminish or just disappear.

Q: Are there any gender differences in jealousy?

Dr. Sylvia: Men and women are both prone to jealousy. Women are pros at relaying their displeasure by "voting you off the island" and we tend to express our displeasure by silence and excluding others. In the end, newly married women usually work very hard to hold onto their girlfriends while men are much more likely to just bond with their new wife.

Q: What can you do if you find yourself in this situation?

Dr. Sylvia: Whether you are the married person or the single friend, it is vital to remember the eternal bond of friendship. Spouses can come and spouses can go but a good friend can last a lifetime. Here are a few tips that can help friends through this passage:

1. Maintain Your Rituals: Although you may not be able to spend as much time together, make sure that you still invest in those invaluable rituals of connection with your friends. If you are the married person, reach out to fortify that bond.

2. Change Your Expectations: If your best friend is newly married, cut her some slack. This is a huge stressor for her, so be a support, not a drain. The foundation of that marriage is set in the first 24 months of the union, so be there as a sounding board.

3. Be Realistic About Your Spouse: Many newly weds expect that their new spouse will like their best friend as well as they do. Give it up! While your spouse should work hard to be cordial, they may never achieve the same intimacy with your friend.

4. Speak Up If There is Conflict: Don't harbor grudges and don't be overly critical if the friendship seems to change. If you are hurt, say something in a compassionate manner such as "I just miss you." Focus on the good points of your interactions.

5. Stay Connected: Although your friend may have new priorities, focus on other ways to connect with her. Email or text messages can work wonders in staying connected. You may have to settle for fewer visits, but make the time count when you are together!