This weekend we drove south to see our daughter and son-in-love. One of the many joys of our weekend was watching them in their church. Through their journey in graduate school they have made numerous friends through that community of people. We saw their friends pursue them, come up to them, and engage them. These are the friends with whom they are doing life.
Have you ever had friends who, no matter how long it’s been since you saw them, you can just sit down and seemingly pick up where you left off?
On our way home we made the trek off the highway in North Carolina to see friends like that. Two nights ago we stayed with dear friends of ours from when we were in graduate school almost three decades ago, David and Julie. We’ve stayed connected and in touch though we have lived hundreds of miles away from each other. But it had been 23 years since we’d been able to sit down and talk face-to-face.
Reflecting on what we observed at our daughter’s church and with David and Julie, we came up with a few qualities that we believe are important to having couple friends that last. Use these as a guideline for the two of you–and use these as a tool to evaluate how well you two are as friends, too!
1. Friends are interested in you!
Some couples can be self-absorbed and enjoy talking about themselves. Look for friends who have learned the art of asking questions. Find friends who listen when you talk and even follow up with questions. Make sure that you do the same with them.
2. Friends show mutual respect
Their respect for each other as a married couple is important. You want friends who are joining you in your efforts to build your marriage. (We wrote more about that here.)
Watch and listen in the early stages of getting to know people to be sure their jokes aren’t disrespectful of you or your spouse. You want conversation that reflects a mutuality and peer-to-peer tone vs. condescending or demeaning. If your potential friends speak and show respect for each other, they will likely show respect to you as well.
3. Friends have shared values with you
For us, it begins with our mutual faith in Jesus Christ, though we’ve had friends who aren’t Christ-followers as well. This has given us mutual values based on the truths of the Bible and Jesus’ example.
Do they value telling the truth? Do they show kindness? Can they live out both simultaneously and tell you what you need to hear in a way that is honoring and respectful?
If you are both parents, are their parenting values similar? This can be important. In our observation, it seems that the more dis-similar your parenting values are, the greater potential there will be over time for friction in the friendship.
Are they spenders and you are savers (or vice versa)? This can work, but it takes mutual understanding when it comes to planning date nights together, activities as families, or even getaways as couples.
4. Friends hold you up
You want friends who will lift you up in prayer. It is a powerful bond with another couple when you know they are interceding for you, your challenges, your marriage and family.
Although it isn’t usually revealed early in a friendship, you want friends who will pick you up when you are discouraged or struggling with failure and loss. It was during seasons like this in our own marriage that we learned who our steadfast friends really were.
As we left David and Julie’s home, we stood in a small circle and prayed for our families and ministries. While we relish the excitement of newer friends, there is a deep joy in having a rich heritage of lasting friendship.
What else would you add? Find friends you can invest into who will show the mutuality of friendship and together you can build your marriage(s)!