A few weeks ago I celebrated 27 years of – almost entirely – blissful marriage to my best friend. That same week some of my children struggled through heart-breaking roommate conflicts with long-term friends.
Making a friendship, marriage, or other relationship last requires certain fundamental basics… and lots of hard work. These are a few of the aspects I appreciate in a friendship.
In a healthy (adult) relationship the two people are partners. There is mutual respect, shared responsibilities, and lots of together experiences. In a sense, we need each other. My husband and I are advocates for each other. We encourage each other and help each other be the best we can in all life areas. I support his dreams, and he supports mine. I point out errors; he does the same for me… so that we can grow. We speak well of each other and do whatever we can to strengthen each other. Partners are stronger together.
believe the best
Every relationship goes through mis-understandings, false impressions, erroneous assumptions. When I believe the best, I don’t guess at motives or intentions, but instead look to communicate honestly, try to understand, and attempt to clarify the situation. In the past, I have sometimes feared looking foolish or naive by trusting someone, but I would rather believe the best in people until they prove unworthy. More often, I am the one who doesn’t have the full picture.
Great friendships are often welded strong through lots of important time together… Intellects read and discuss together. Athletes play together. Musicians jam together. Others eat, craft, camp, travel, pray, create, or go to movies together! For my husband and me, our faith is the most important shared interest we have as a couple, and I am really grateful for all the adventures we have enjoyed together. Shared interests are a glue.
I make mistakes all the time. I say the wrong words, do the wrong things, have really lousy attitudes… every day. I need to apologize and receive forgiveness… all the time. I have hurt my husband. He has hurt me. If we weren’t willing and able to forgive, we would not still be together. Forgiveness is easier when we recognize our own imperfections and have realistic expectations of the other. Forgiveness happens when we value being together more than we value getting even.
Healthy relationships require healthy communication skills. Through the years I have had to learn to control my “explosive” discussion style while my husband has learned to talk more freely and not “stuff” his feelings and opinions. One of us sometimes needs a bit of time before beginning a difficult conversation, but an “I’m not talking to you” escape is not an option. We have also sought help from others when conflicts were really bad. Honest, vulnerable, respectful communication can resolve a lot of problems.
What about you? What aspects of a friendship/marriage are most important to you?