A couple needs friends as a couple, and each mate needs his or her own friends. All of these friends can enrich the couple’s marriage. Look for people who will enrich your life and whose lives you can enrich. Look for friends who will strengthen your marriage and encourage you in the tough experiences of life.
Additionally look for people who will be your equals in giving and receiving. Give and receive practical help--babysitting so a couple can have time alone, providing a mountain cabin for getaway, paying a marriage seminar registration fee, bringing in meals when someone is ill. Actions can help more than words--and will be the proof of true friendships.
Simply being available to talk or to do things together is one way to strengthen a couples’ relationship. One woman, married nineteen years, said, "I’ve been helped by having other women to talk to. It’s good to know others are struggling with problems like mine and how they’re solving them."
Good friends don’t take sides. They don’t hear the complaint of one mate against the other and decide the other mate is a terrible, incorrigible mess. If friends or family members take sides, they’re not likely to help either person in the marriage.
People who are helpful to married couples generally possess empathy which is the ability to "feel with" or "feel into" another person's situation. Being empathetic enables you to listen effectively and to understand what people are feeling, rather than just what they’re saying, or how they’re behaving. Empathy helps you understand why they view life as they do, and why they’re considering certain plans of action.
People who are effective friends also have a sense of hope. They are not panicked or depressed by changes in a friends situation, but see these as temporary problems. Good friends view current dilemmas as opportunities to help the relationship develop and mature in ways that it might not do without some stress.
Friends need to help troubled couples "accentuate the positive and eliminate the negative." The negative grows when the helpers are on the sidelines chanting, "Get a divorce! Get a divorce! You deserve better!"
Friends rarely have a neutral impact on a marital relationship. They either encourage the couple to appreciate each other and strengthen their relationship--or they become divisive, taking sides and even exploiting the weaknesses found in every marriage.
Perhaps you need to reflect on your friendships. What type of friends do you have? If they are not strengthening your marriage, you should look for different friends. And consider what type of friend you are toward your married friends.
Conway / Farrel Articles ~ Reprint by permission only, ©2011
Midlife Dimensions ~ www.Midlife.com
The Conways and Farrels are international speakers and popular authors.
Midlife Dimensions is a ministry founded by the Conways and continued by the Farrels.