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International News Archive
December 20 - December 26, 1999


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This page contains news for the period Monday, December 20, 1999 through Sunday, December 26, 1999.





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Tuesday, December 21, 1999

Marriage requires men to renegotiate their friendships with single friends

A story published today by Canoe.com discusses the problems experienced by men when their male friends marry and start a new lifestyle.

While both sexes suffer feelings of loss and abandonment when a friend gets married, single women are more likely than their male counterparts to be included in their friends' new relationships.

The story suggests that at the heart of this tug of war is the way men and women bond.

"Because men connect through activities like sport and work, and women through relationships, men feel a sense of abandonment when, in fact, it's a loss of sharing activities with the person," says John Henderson, a registered marriage and family therapist.

Friends should realize there's a new relationship formed and to renegotiate their expectations, says Henderson.

"Maybe Bob can come out once a month or once every two months now that he has other commitments," he explains.

Even when single people, especially men, are included in new couples' social lives, they feel uncomfortable if they're surrounded by couples.

Henderson says both sides have to realize that with a new relationship comes decisions like what to let go of and what to incorporate into the new social system.

"What I hear is, 'She won't let me go'," and 'He's always out with the guys.' It all needs to be renegotiated. You don't have to do it all at once," he says of the situation that usually gets discussed only after such conflicts arise.

While single people should recognize that a married friend can't be in the single system as often, there are events where singles can be accommodated.

"A newly married couple needs to honor the inclusion of singles in some of their experiences that aren't all to do with couples," Henderson adds.

Diane Marshall, clinical director of the Institute of Family Living in Toronto, says male bonding activities like golfing and guys' night out tend to exclude women.

"Women feel left out and are sometimes resentful when men go out," says Marshall, who's also a registered marriage and family therapist.

Men are starting to become more aware that they want the same level of intimacy with their male friends that women share with their female friends.

"They realize their friendship networks aren't as strong as women's," she says.

Bev Behar, president of the Ontario Association of Marriage and Family Therapists, says newly married people feel torn and try to divide themselves into little pieces to please everyone.

"It's not healthy because it's easy to get into trouble with so many people to please," she says.

"In different ways you can," she says. "I recall an older neighbor telling me it's important not to neglect friends because they'll be important in the future. I had two young children and a very hectic family life at the time."

Behar often hears from clients and friends about the lack of time to maintain friendships.

"Unfortunately, they only realize the totality of their loss years later and wonder if they could've done things differently," she says.


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