Keep friendship alive

» Posted on 29 May 2012 • Growing Old Together

Ever gone out for an anniversary dinner and wished the kids were there just to make some noise so the fact you and you spouse have nothing to say to one another wasn't so obvious?

Physical attraction may lead you into a relationship, but having a friendship will keep the relationship alive long term.

Give it 15 years and a child or two, and any marriage that was once strong can be in danger of looking like a professional parternship lacking warmth and true companionship because the stresses and strains of modern life have pushed the friendship down the priority list. Making time for each other looks like a luxury when work is calling and there are bills to pay, when you are exhausted after weeks of  midnight feeds for the two-month-old, when the children are soaking up time being couriered to various activities after school, or when church activities keep you out at nights.

When looking to clarify priorities in a business setting, there is a tool used to categorise the urgent and important, the urgent but unimportant, the important but not urgent, and the unimportant and non-urgent. Much of business gets dictated to by the urgent task; those screaming deadlines that needed to be done yesterday. Under this pressure, we can fail to stop and ask "What would happen if it didn't get done?" Often urgent tasks are not really that important, they've just got a very loud voice. There are other very important tasks that need attention, but won't scream at you. The tragedy is, unless you work diligently on the important, at times to the expense of the urgent, a day will come when the important has become critical, urgent and almost too late to rescue.

Friendship in marriage is one of those important but rarely urgent matters. Friendship is something that is built over time, and also will erode over time. It is long-suffering, but it cannot suffer all things. It is always important, but only what it is almost too late does it become an urgent matter. If friendship starts to cry out for attention, then it's nearing critical boil-over point. If we don't attend to our marriage friendship regularly, a day will come when the need is acute and no quick-fix will work - you're looking at a marriage that has lost its reason for being; companionship and joyfully growing old together. So what do we need to do?

Make friendship a priority.

Recognise that friendship will never draw attention to itself, so make a deliberate commitment to friendship in the marriage as critical to a lasting and enriching marriage.


Make a date

Weekly: Make sure you and your spouse connect meaningfully every week. It can help if you make a set time such as putting aside one evening and protecting that time against all comers. And make sure you really talk. Don't just relay the facts of your life - talk about what motivates you, what your fears and hopes are, where you are getting your passion from.

Monthly: Go out on a date once a month - get a babysitter and leave the home for a dinner and a movie, or to pursue an interest you are developing together. Having something you enjoy together is a big plus. Perhaps alternate who is responsible for organising the event, so each of you get to introduce the other to something you are passionate about and want to share with your spouse.

Annually: Have a weekend together once a year. It doesn't need to be an expensive overseas trip, but make sure you are away overnight away from the home where you get to live life at the rhythm and pace you feel like even if just for 48 hours.

NOTE: This is a repeat prescription!