I had the chance to go away for a weekend at the beginning of March. I headed north with two of my girlfriends, Kristin and Karen, to Birch Bay, Washington. It’s a little marina village near the Canadian border where Kristin’s parents let us stay in their vacation home. Between the three of us, we’ve got six kids all under the age of 5, and all of those kiddos stayed home with their daddies, our incredible husbands, so we could take some time to ourselves.
Until that weekend, I hadn’t been without my kids for that long since I became a mom three years ago. I didn’t realize how good it would be to just relax and not tend to my little peoples’ needs for 48 straight hours. I missed them, of course, but the time spent with my lovely friends was so very worth it.
Kristin, who grew up near Birch Bay, was the best tour guide. She planned a dinner for us in downtown Bellingham, the closest nearby city, and we’d made predictions on how many of Kristin’s friends we might run into while we were there. We walked into this great noodle bar and, of course, she knew the first people we saw. They were a sweet couple on a date celebrating their anniversary. We chatted with them for quite a while and when they left, Kristin said, “I cannot believe of all the people we could run into, we just saw them. That guy was my very first boyfriend.” Certainly Karen and I now thought very differently about the whole interaction. Your first boyfriend, no matter what the relationship was like or how long ago, is kind of a big deal. She went on to say how nice he always was and how gracious he was to her even after he’d broken up with her. She shared how devastated she had been, how much that first break up stung:
“He broke my heart. Really, I was a wreck. But, oh my word! I had no idea then what God had in store for my future. I mean, He gave me Eivind! I cannot fathom being married to a better man!”
There it was, the statement that so clearly reminded me why I was on this little trip with these two specific women. My friends adore their husbands. They know I adore mine. We can talk honestly about past relationships, about our childhoods, about our baggage, and about the ups and downs of parenting. We can share whatever is on our mind with one another safely because we know we all have each other’s best interest in mind. It is because of women like these that I am convinced my marriage is thriving.
Who are Your Five?
Have you heard the saying “You are, or will become, the average of the five people you spend the most time with”? That can either be really frightening or really encouraging depending on your circle of friends. Either way, there is no denying the influence other people have on our lives, for better or worse. When it comes to our pursuit to stay married, it seems even more essential to surround ourselves with people who will encourage us to keep going. It is also important to us that we are the kinds of friends who cheer for our friends in their marriages.
I have to admit, I wasn’t always this type of friend. Before I got married, I was the kind of friend that would feel indignant and self-righteous when I thought any of my friends’ husbands’ weren’t treating them like princesses. I rarely considered the other side of the story I might be hearing and I may have even said a time or two, “I DO NOT know why you are with him!” Yikes! If you were ever on the receiving end of that from me, I am so sorry! I hope you’ll forgive me. I had no idea then how damaging those sentiments were. I see now why it’s important to look for friends that will add quality to your marriage and to minimize time with friends who don’t have an appreciation for the work it truly takes to be and stay married.
So, while I was away spending time with a couple of these precious friends, we began to daydream about the qualities and characteristics that make up the kind of friend we all really need, and should try to be, if we are going to bump those divorce stats and stay married until the end. With a little help from my friends, here’s the list we came up with.
A Different Kind of Friend
I realize there is an occasion where it would actually be better for our friend if we didn’t keep pointing them back to unity with their spouse. I’m talking only about those of us who have friends in abusive relationships. This is one of the trickiest friendships to navigate – wanting the best for them, wanting them to be safe, wanting to stay in relationship with them by not alienating them with our opinions. If you have a friend in an abusive relationship, tread lightly. There is an entirely different way than our list above to handle this, a way that is healthy and wise. Please check out this article by Liz Welch on The Exact Words That Could Help A Friend In An Abusive Relationship for starters.
I am thankful that the friends I have now, those five or so that I spend the most time with, are people I admire with marriages that are thriving. Can you say the same thing about your five? Try holding yourself and your friends up to the list above. How do you fare? Are there people who have these qualities that maybe you should try to get to know better?
With the number of memes and cute quotes floating around the internet these days, it seems as important as ever to watch where we are getting our advice and influence from. If you are making decisions based on someone else’s wisdom, make sure you want their life and not just their words on an art print for your living room. Let’s stay in healthy community so that we can #staymarried.
P.S. If you think these could benefit someone else’s marriage, please consider sharing. You can use the social media buttons at the top or bottom of this post. Also, if you’re new here, welcome! You might like to check out why we started this blog and my first entry to get a little background. Thanks for stopping by!