The Art of Couple Friendships
Will Husbands Hit It Off?
It's no wonder then, that misguided attempts at uniting two pairs of people can be downright disastrous. Jennifer Gongaware remembers the ill-fated results of introducing her future husband, Jeff, to two couples she knew in Dallas. "I was hoping Jeff would like my friends and that we could all go out together regularly," says Gongaware, who now lives in Blanco, Texas. Her hopes were thwarted when the husband in one of the other couples began loosening up. "He was telling racist jokes," she says. "I was appalled. I'd never heard him talk like that before. Jeff couldn't contain his outrage. He turned to the guy and said, 'Why don't you cut out the hillbilly crap?'" Gongaware immediately got up from the dinner table and nervously started to refill wine glasses, hoping everyone would get too tipsy to remember what happened. It didn't work. "Jeff never wanted to see them again," says Gongaware, who eventually dropped them as friends as well.
Indeed, in most couple friendships, the key stumbling block is getting the husbands to hit it off. That's not to say it can't be your woman friend who puts the pox on the partnership, or vice versa. Sometimes, the husbands are content enough to go along with each other, but it's her husband who finds you too opinionated or your husband who finds her too loud and giggly. But frequently, since women generally are the social organizers, we lead the efforts to establish friendships with other couples using our women friends as the bridge. "I can pretty much get along with anyone, but my husband is more particular," says Molly Smith* of Cleveland. "I initiate friendships only when I'm very confident my husband will like the other guy." Such vetting doesn't always pay off, however. If the husbands don't take to each other, often the relationship will devolve into a lunch friendship between the women. (That's what happened with my new acquaintance with the preachy grass-expert spouse.)
*Some names have been changed to protect privacy.