Friendship Comes First
Relationships with Terah Harrison
Friendship forms the foundation of any relationship, yet this absolute necessity is often the first thing to go when life starts to get overwhelming. Here’s a pretty common scenario that might feel familiar to you. It’s a normal Wednesday, and you’re driving home after a long day at work. You get a call from your partner asking you to stop by the grocery store on the way home to pick up stuff for dinner. So you go to get what’s on the list, wait in a long line to buy everything and then get back in your car only to fight the traffic on your way home. When you finally stagger through the front door with your hands full of grocery bags, you aren’t greeted with “thank you” or “I appreciate you going out of your way to get this.” Instead, you get another long list of things to do — pick up the kids from soccer practice, mow the yard, clean the dishes, pay the bills. If your life at home is similar to this, you might find yourself avoiding your spouse and looking more to your pals for friendship you aren’t getting at home.
When life gets busy, it might feel like you are living with a roommate or coworker. It seems like there just isn’t time to talk about anything else except what needs to be done. The friendship that used to be the foundation of a partnership can slip away so gradually that we don’t even notice we let it happen.
Building friendship means connecting with your spouse in both simple and complex ways. It can be as small as asking the question, “How was your day?” or as meaningful as asking about your spouse’s hopes and dreams and really listening to what they say. Often we feel as if we know the other person so well that we don’t need to ask the questions we asked while dating, such as, “What are your goals in life?” or “What are you passionate about?” But these things change as we grow — you might not know as much about your spouse as you think.
Friendship involves having positive feelings toward your partner and giving them the benefit of the doubt. Your relationship with your spouse should be a place of solace and comfort, and the only way to attain that is to make an effort to think of that person as being on your side.
Long-term relationships have a lot of old wounds that are reopened when we doubt the intentions of our partners, and we can be harder on them than anyone else in our lives. If your partner does or says something questionable, try to think of a positive reason why they might have done it, then ask them about it in a non-confrontational way: “What did you mean when you said (blank)?” Generally, we do not lash out at our friends when there is a misunderstanding or order our friends around, but we often do this with our partners. Think of how you would treat a friend in the situation, and try to do this with your spouse. Just taking five minutes when you get home to sit down and talk to each other about your lives, hopes, dreams or details of your day goes a long way.