It is important to pay attention to your friendships and decide if they are ones that will support you through your lives together and help in building and maintaining a healthy marriage or promote heading in a different direction and away from your marriage.
You can learn a lot from others who are going through or have gone through some of the same struggles that you experience. What a relief it is to know that you are not alone in the struggles of parenting or dealing with career and family or aging parents … whatever stage of life you are in at the time.
Think about the relationships that you and your partner have right now and see if you can determine what category they might fall in to.
Friends That Enhance a Marriage
Couples who believe in commitment are helpful when the times are tough or the “itch” to give up bubbles up.
As a marriage and family therapist, I am always happy when I hear couples use phrases like “I know we will get through this” or “We are committed to our marriage and divorce is not an option”. When that value is present, then problems are dealt with very differently. Choosing friends who also have that same belief will support a marriage.
Cultivate friendships with couples who are glad to be a listening ear and yet will always direct you back to your partner to work through problems. Sometimes, talking out loud about situations in your relationship can help you to calm down and develop a better perspective on a situation. At other times, sharing with someone who has gone through a similar problem, can offer suggestions for solutions.
Friends who will also encourage you to work through problems with your spouse are good supporters for the marriage.
Learners and Enrichers
Couples who bring new interests and activities can enrich a marriage. Life can become boring if you do the same old things all of the time. Having friends who bring new stories, activities and interests can keep relationships vital.
Couples who have new and different experiences also get some of the same changes in their brain chemistry that comes from an affair, although not to the same intensity. It is a good thing to have new, first time experiences.
Seek out couple friends who know how to expand their lives and join them in pursuits. Ballroom dancing classes? Golf or another sports activity? Travel with and without children? Movies? Classes or restaurants?
Check back here to read Part II: Friends That Might Endanger Your Relationship.