FRIENDS: Who To Keep and How To Keep Them
A friend loves at all times…
One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin…
Dear Matt and Simona,
When your dad and I married, we had no small amount of difficulty with friendships. Most of my friends were in college, most of his well into their careers. I was the first of my friends to marry, he was among the last of his to tie the knot.
Soon after we were married, a couple of my friends set about to set me straight. I was no longer acting the way I had before and so they assumed I wasn’t being me.
What they couldn’t see was that the once shy-me was gaining confidence. I was growing up, struggling to break out of my shell, wanting to learn the art of open-hearted womanhood. Being married to an extrovert, I pushed myself to try to be more like him, to break out of the bars I’d hid behind.
And, no doubt, I did it awkwardly. Being warm, open, affectionate, encouraging didn’t come naturally. I had to work hard at it, to watch and learn and get up my nerve to push beyond my reserve.
These friends didn’t like the way I’d changed, felt I ought to be someone I no longer was.
And that hurt.
I felt scrutinized, condemned, misunderstood.
And so I more or less decided to do without friends. After all, we had each other, and wasn’t that enough?
And the answer to that question is NO! It’s not enough to have each other. In fact, I would argue now that we needed friends in order to be better friends to each other.
Now I know that the problem wasn’t having friends, but the kind of friends I had. No one told me that all my friendships would change on our wedding day. And so I wasn’t prepared, didn’t know what to do with what was no longer working.
I want to share with you some things I know now that I didn’t know then.
1. Keep friends who help you love each other better.
There are friends who demand too much of you, leaving you limp and depleted after too much time with them. Or whose caustic attitudes you catch, whose bitter viewpoints come out in the kind of sarcasm that rubs off on you.
Listen to each other about this. If one of you comes back crabby or distant from an outing with a friend, that may be a clue to be concerned about.
May I suggest that you ease away from such friends? That you protect your friendship with each other rather than allow people in who may leak their toxicity onto your love?
2. Keep friends who help you be better.
I have a circle of friends now who make me want to be kinder, braver, stronger, gentler. We laugh and joke and cry and open our hearts to each other, but each of us knows that there are some topics that are off limits.
I have never heard any of them criticize or complain about their husbands, nor would they me allow me to gossip or vent or generally give in to ungodliness.
After I’ve been with these women, I come home ready to love my husband better- I come home more encouraging, more understanding, more willing to serve with flair and beauty.
3. Keep friends who allow you room to grow and change.
A man or a woman who stays forever the same is pitiful, stagnant, uninteresting. Yet it is not uncommon for friends to want you to stay the same because change is also threatening. You need friends who give you room to change your ideas, your approach, your interests, your level of commitment.
Growth and change create beauty in you. Friends who allow that beauty to emerge without insisting on controlling you are treasures.
4. Keep friends who get that your best friend is now each other.
Being best friends takes time. It takes talking, playing, doing life side-by-side. It requires planning, waiting, being there when the other needs you.
To stay best friends will require that you don’t leave each other alone too much. Which in turn will mean that your other friends will need to give you lots and lots of room to say no without lengthy explanations that come under their scrutiny.
Hang on to those friends who want more than anything for your friendship with each other to stay strong.
And remember this:
No one gets to come through that Front Door without your invitation.
You decide who to welcome into the Entry of the house you are building together.
Some friends will come often, some every once in a while, and some will not survive the changes that your marriage brings. And that’s okay. It doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with you— or them. It’s just the way of life. A natural consequence of growth in you and in your friends.
Some friends are for a short season, a few are for a long time, but the two of you… are friends forever.
From my heart,
P.S. For those who are listening: Do you have friends who help make your marriage better? How do they do that? What would you advise for those who want to say friends after marriage?
(image by Hillary Kupish)