Friendship has always been one of those things that was weird for me. I learned the importance of having and being a really good friend a little later in life than most I guess.
As I was growing up, I had a couple close friends and then several miscellaneous groups of what I now realize were associates.
The one mistake that I made, was that I treated them all the same.
I now realize that true friends are hard to come by, and friendship, just like any other relationship, it requires work and effort.
Life is funny in that, we can learn lessons about one part of our life, by having change in a completely different area of our life.
Through some recent reflection, I realized that there are things that I have learned in being married that have me looking at my friendships in a different light.
I'd like to think that marriage is continually making me a better person, and I'm ready to have that cross over into my friendships.
Here are a few of my marriage lessons I have learned, or already knew but started actually applying in real life, so far.
Talk to each other, in person or on the phone. Don't just settle for “textversations”
Friends communicate authentically and intimately which can't happen with texting being the only way that you communicate.
While it is something that is an ongoing opportunity to grow, my husband and I always have moments where we realize something could have gone smoother if we had communicated better, or been more thorough in relaying our thoughts. While it has not caused any major mishaps (thus far – THANK GOD!), it has made for some minor inconveniences that could have been avoided.
Any time two people plan to embark on any journey, communication is overly necessary. As I grow, I am realizing this necessity to be more and more essential in every aspect of my life.
It can be a struggle sometimes to express thoughts, feelings and emotions, especially to people you feel who you know and should know you. Because we think they know us, we may feel they should understand how we think, feel and so on. But the reality is, no one is a mind reader and plainly put “Ain’t nobody got time” to try it either.
Put forth the extra effort to communicate with those that are truly your friends.
Friends do life together
“A beautiful thing happens when we start paying attention to each other. It is by participating more in your relationship that you breathe life into it.”
So often, life just gets in the way of living.
If you let time get away from you in your personal relationship you could have gone days or weeks without dating, having some type of quality time and even having sex. But the sustainment of the relationship requires that the time be made. This is especially true when you have young children (this is my story – JESUS HELP ME!!).
In my world, friends are not just the people you know, they are the people you “do life with”. To do life, you have to actually do things together (go figure – who knew?).
While responsibilities of careers, families, hobbies and much more can weigh our schedules down, it is essential that we make time for those people that we call our friends and not just give them a window seat to our reality.
Friendships are the same as your marriage or personal relationship, in that they require for the time to be made. Make it!In my world, friends are not just the people you know, they are the people 'you do life with' Click To Tweet
When growing up I remember my mom and her friends hanging out – often. Some of them would even babysit for my parents to be able to have date night or just quiet time and then their kids would frequent our house for the same reason. At birthday parties, cookouts, and any gatherings there were always friends in addition to family. I have even gained some of my adult relationships from the children of my parents friends.
As my parents grow older and family members are going on to glory, I my parents drawing even closer to their friends, doing more together, and overall really being active in each other’s lives. All of that takes time.
One day, God willing, you will retire, your children will leave your home and start their own journeys and friends are the ones who will still be present.
Make time and build memories with your friends.
Consider the other persons perspective
Friends have feelings too.
“Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.”
Stephen R. Covey
Marriage has made me a much more selfless and reasonable individual. The fact that I am married to who has to be one of the most selfless people I have met may have something to do with it, but at any rate, I definitely think, actually I know, that I have grown into a better person since my hubs has been around.
I find myself reflecting on how things that I have done may have been interpreted, how I might feel if the shoe were on the other foot or just taking the time to hear him out when he does voice a feeling about something (which part of his selflessness makes this a rare occurrence and I have not concluded whether that is good or bad).
I have found that in my friendships, especially those that I have maintained for many years, that whole mutual accommodation is also necessary. When you have known someone for a great majority of your life you change, and you have to remember that they do too. That means that the way they may have felt about something when you were 18 and all you had to worry about was gas money and what you were doing for the weekend, may be different now when you have the stress of bills, jobs, kids, and life.
We are all a compilation of our life’s experiences and they shape and mold our beliefs, thoughts and actions. When being in a friendship with others we have to really respect the differences and embrace the angle of the other person; especially if we expect that from others.
Consider your friends and their feelings.
Do the work to make it work with friends that matter
I have been guilty in dealing with situations with friends and feeling like I really didn't care to make the effort to make something better or to address a situation. But as I have gotten older, I realize that if you want something to last, then effort is necessary.
“People die all the time. Life is a lot more fragile than we think. So you should treat others in a way that leaves no regrets. Fairly, and if possible, sincerely. It's too easy not to make the effort, then weep and wring your hands after the person dies.” Haruki Murakami
I don’t know if I learned this in marriage or if this is when I actually came to realize it, but life is too short to not make the effort. Every time I leave my hubby, end a phone conversation, or separate in any manner, I make sure to let him know I love him, at minimum. I find myself making sure to do that with my friends too. At first it seemed weird to tell my friends that I love them, or even to just randomly express appreciation to them, but the reality is, if I make the effort to let them know, then they never have to guess; and if I show them, even better.
I still have room to grow in all of these areas, but I think about it often. And while I am sure there are many more, these are some of the things that I think of that make my marriage work and grow and can help my friendships flourish as well.
As I grow older, I realize that the quantity of friendships a person has is insignificant in comparison to the quality of those friendships.