Adapted from a recent online discussion.
Let go of old grudges, especially if counterparts have moved on
Q: I do not enjoy the time we spend with my husband's friends. My husband accepts that, but I know it hurts him.
The issue is that they really disliked me during the dating years and showed it with some pretty bad behavior — e.g., not talking to me at social events, anger at my husband for spending time at my family function instead of with them, etc. My husband was a longtime single and very social guy. We met when we were a little older, and I think they really resented his not being around 100 percent anymore.
Anyway, as time progressed — years — and they realized the permanence of our relationship, I guess they decided they had to be my friend or lose him.
My husband wants me to brush it all aside and be friends. The problem is that, even if I understand and even forgive them, I still feel very self-conscious, and I clam up because I feel they are only putting up with me because they have to.
I am already an introverted person, and spending time with them exhausts me because it brings my anxiety level way up. I've suggested he spend more time with them without me, but he says he wants to spend time with us all together. He does spend a lot of time with my family and friends, but they love him and always have. How do I deal with this?
A: I know this is going to be easier said than done, but the best thing you can do for you is to let this old grudge go. The years have likely matured you all, so the friends' bad behavior needn't define them always.
Also: It sounds as if you're taking very personally something that wasn't entirely about you. Your then-single husband was the guy they could count on, not just in those big communal years right after college, but also many years into the phase where post-college community members start disappearing into their own tight little orbits.
So his friends' resistance appears (to me at least) to have been not to you specifically, but to his pairing off in general. The life of their party went home.
Maybe you also need to stop blaming yourself for being the one who took the life of the party home. That wasn't your decision, that was your husband's; he alone chose to step down from his beloved role. Mostly step down, I should say, since he's clearly still very social and wants you to be, too.
His friends, apparently, are okay with that now. Why not see what happens if you decide to be okay with it, too?
Your introversion is best dealt with as separate from your bad start with these friends. When intro- marries extro-, that demands its own adjustments and compromises. Instead of staying home occasionally to avoid his friends, present it as staying home in deference to your temperament: He is energized by others, and you are drained by them.
So, he needs more nights out than you do, and you need more nights in than he does. Make plans accordingly, and talk openly of keeping each other's needs in mind versus trying to bring each other around to your way.