“When are we going to make friends together? We are married now. Couples spend time with other couples, but you do not seem interested in making new friends.” For the first several years of our marriage, Eric and I circled back to the same topic – making friends… couple friends. As a young twenty-something fresh out of college, I still wanted to hang out with my college friends. Before you get a mental image of wild girls partying until 4 am, my friends and I were more of the Pizza Hut eating, Target shopping, romantic comedy watching, late-night Sonic run kind of girls. ~smile~
Was there something wrong with me spending time with my friends? No, I was blessed to maintain relationships with the quality people God used to propel me through my college years. The problem was not in maintaining those friendships (which I still have today!), but in prioritizing them over Eric.
At the time, I did not want to admit to faulty priorities. After all, I saw him every day and my friends once a week! However, my unwillingness to tweak my Saturday night friend routine in the slightest (e.g., take one night a month to do something with Eric and a new couple, switch to Friday night once in a while, ask to do lunch instead of dinner, etc.) communicated to Eric that his need to create and grow new friendships was not important to me (because, it wasn’t).
My thoughts at the time were simple. He does not need me to make new friends. Just go out and make guy friends. What’s the big deal? Well, it actually was a big deal. It was a big deal in part because he wanted me to be available and I refused; also, because we needed other couples in our life (which I didn’t admit until many years later). Couples need to bond with other couples for support, encouragement, and to bring levity to those difficult moments in marriage.
We still need our established friendships. True friendships are worth preserving but should not be used as an excuse to stay in a perpetual comfort zone.
You will be the same person in five years as you are today except for the people you meet and the books you read. ? Charlie Tremendous Jones
So, what held me back from making new couple friends with Eric? Was I worried my college friends would leave me if I was not available every single Saturday (which is how often I really did go out with them)? No. I knew they would understand and still love me. Was I concerned about the time and money it would require? No. Eric was low on time and conscious about money, so no problem there. When I thought about reaching out to new couples and attempting to make connections, it scared me to my core.
Fear of rejection kept me from taking those steps. What if they only like one of us? What if it is completely awkward? What if we try to make friends with a dozen couples and none of them want to hang out with us again? For several years, I let fear keep me from dipping my toes in the water and it took a toll on our relationship. Eric felt neglected and angry (and he still somewhat does; it will probably still take a lot of effort on my part to remedy this). I felt pushed and blamed.
Finally, after maturing and transitioning from child to genuine adult, I started letting my guard down ever so slightly. This happened, in part, because we became involved in a church where we met many great couples who loved and accepted us. As I grew close to some of the wives in the church, the idea of having them over to the house or asking them to eat out after church felt less horrifying. Some encounters were tons of fun, some were okay, and some were awkward – but none of them ended in tragedy. I survived every single one and grew from them. Today, we have some of the most amazing couples in our lives and I am thankful God blessed us with these people despite my fear.
What Do Friendships Mean to You? As you move closer and closer to your marriage’s starting line, what are your thoughts about cultivating couple friends? Do you find it important? Do you and your significant other expect to be content with your former friends or with few friends at all? What role do you want friendships to play in your married life, and most importantly, do you and your significant other agree?
Grab Your Creed Notebooks
Pull out your notebooks and dive into your friendship philosophies. Talk about your happiest and saddest friendship moments over the years. What reservations, if any, do you feel about reaching out to new couples? Does it appear that you are both on the same page?
- On a scale from 1-10, (1 – not important, 10 – could not be more important), how important are friendships to my life?
- How many friendships have I maintained since my childhood, high school, and college years?
- What is my philosophy of friendship?
- How much time do I want to spend with friends once I am:
- Parenting small children?
- Parenting school-aged children?
- An empty-nester?
- What role do I typically play in my friendships? (e.g., life of the party, the hub, the mediator, the counselor, etc.)
- How do I feel about my role?
- What lessons do I hope to teach my future children about:
- What it means to be a friend?
- What is takes to build friendships?
- Boundaries in friendships?
- When it comes to entertaining people and maintaining friendships, what do I desire in a future spouse?
What Does the Bible Say?
Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. (John 15:13, ESV)
Jesus is the epitome of true friendship! We should all aspire to love as He does.
Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity! (Psalm 133:1, ESV)
Do not forsake your friend and your father’s friend, and do not go to your brother’s house in the day of your calamity. Better is a neighbor who is near than a brother who is far away. (Proverbs 27:10, ESV)
Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another. (Proverbs 27:17, ESV)
Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10, ESV)
Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy. (Proverbs 27:6, ESV)
Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals.” (I Corinthians 15:33, ESV)
Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. (I John 4:7, ESV)
The people who help us make it through this challenging world are a part of our belief system whether we see them often or occasionally. We all have ideas about what it means to be a friend. What are your current beliefs about friendship and the role of friendships in marriage? Are your beliefs healthy or the result of hurts or disillusionments? Friendship, though an important part of a well-balanced life, is also a risk. Anytime we put our hearts on the line and become vulnerable, we risk rejection; but, is the reward of precious relationships worth the risk?
If you are struggling with negative feelings towards making and maintaining friendships, challenge your beliefs through the lens of Philippians 4:8:
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. (Philippians 4:8, ESV)
Are my beliefs about pursuing friendships true? Is the way I approach friendships honorable? Just? Pure? Lovely? When we find ourselves nursing negative thought patterns, we can reset our minds by filtering our thoughts through this powerful verse. My friend calls it the Philippians filter and it is a great way to test all our beliefs.
What Might Have Been?
Though I am so happy with the relationships I have now, I wonder what we missed out on all those years when I refused to make new friends. Who might Eric and I know and love today had I been braver and less stubborn? How might have our lives been affected? Would we possibly have children now? It is not good to dwell on the past; yet, sometimes I wonder how my life would be different now had I refused to let fear hold me down then.
But, there is good news for you! You and your sweetheart have a clean slate. You can take healthy beliefs and attitudes into your marriage. While you are still single, investigate your heart and tackle your unhealthy beliefs and unfounded fears. You do not have to let fear rob you of the joy God wants you to have. Take a page from my book, rip it up, and do the opposite! Make friends together! ~smile~
When we are old and looking back over the joys of our life, good friends will come to mind. They make life more digestible. They bring us smiles. They entertain us. They encourage us. Sure, there is always a chance we might get hurt. In fact, few of us make it through life without some pain. But, the good and loyal friends we make are worth the risk and heartaches we endure along the way.
There is nothing quite like a good friend.
You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you. – Dale Carnegie
In everyone’s life, at some time, our inner fire goes out. It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being. We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit. – Albert Schweitzer
If ever there is tomorrow when we’re not together… there is something you must always remember. You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think. But the most important thing is, even if we’re apart… I’ll always be with you. – Winnie the Pooh
How much time and energy will you and your significant other invest into growing strong couple friendships?
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