... Connecting with friends.
Marriage and family are time consuming. We all know that. And other relationships can be squeezed out. But we all need friends. Here are four ways married couples can build healthy friendships outside of marriage:
1. Understand the seasons of friendships
The first few years of marriage and early years of parenthood usually call for a lot of adjustment. You may struggle to maintain the same network of friends you enjoyed before marriage. That is okay. We might find ourselves associating with different friends in different seasons of life, and occasions may arise in the future to rekindle old friendships.
2. Value community
Being married doesn’t mean you should spend time only with your spouse and your families. The Bible reminds believers to gather and to “stir up one another to love and good works” (Heb 10:25)
Most cell groups in churches allow us to do that. Placing couples who are in the same phase of life in a cell will facilitate bonding of friendships. So keep forming friendships that will grow and strengthen one another. It’s also wise to befriend older married couples who can guide you in your marriage.
Placing couples who are in the same phase of life in a cell will facilitate bonding of friendships. So keep forming friendships that will grow and strengthen one another.
3. Be intentional
As Christians, let us not forget friends outside the church. Perhaps a double date would work, or engage in meaningful activities with those who share similar interests and values. Plan regular catch-up sessions with friends to mark special occasions, like birthdays, reunions, Christmas and other festive seasons. Opportunities like these not only offer a reciprocal emotional and social support for you as a couple, they also provide help and resources when need arises.
A friendship base makes it easier and more natural to invite people to church or community events. Being genuine is the key. A simple text message just to say hello, or a phone call can go far in maintaining precious and purposeful friendships.
4. Practise healthy boundaries with friends of the opposite sex
It is important for you and your spouse to be honest about personal comfort levels when it comes to friends of the opposite sex. Share your feelings and thoughts openly, while keeping an open mind to hear and understand your spouse’s perspectives.
One wise bottom-line is to not meet friends of the opposite sex alone in secluded places. It also makes good sense to inform your spouse of any meeting by providing details, like the time and place.
Refrain from prolonged physical touch with friends of the opposite sex, or sharing private information which can lead to emotional intimacy that exceeds the boundaries of friendship. Avoid discussing problems in your marriage with an opposite-sex friend without prior agreement with your spouse, too. Instead, couples can get to know each other’s friends, so that you can build friendships as a couple.
Ultimately, friendships should nourish and not fatigue you. It may take a while to discover what works best for you as a couple seeking to build and maintain friendships with others. Our God — who holds a high view of friendship (John 15:13) — will give you the wisdom and grace to learn how to receive and give the blessing of friendship.
Raphael is a Program Strategist with Focus on the Family Singapore. He enjoys reading and writing, and believes there’s no such thing as having too many books.