Does this sound familiar?
WIFE: “Honey, I think we should get to know some other couples. Wouldn’t that be fun?”
HUSBAND: “Maybe someone from church or the office?”
WIFE: “That’s what I was thinking. Why don’t we start with Mike and Lisa?”
HUSBAND: “Lisa is your friend, but Mike and I have nothing in common.” (Mental thought: Mike’s a bit strange, he doesn’t even like football.) “How about the
Palmers?” (Mental thought: Jack likes football.)
WIFE: “I don’t have much in common with—what’s her name—Janine Palmer.” (Mental thought: The Palmer’s have a housekeeper and big house on the river. My place just doesn’t compare.)
HUSBAND: “Perhaps we should invite that new couple in the church, the Jacobsons.”
BOTH: “No, they have seven kids!”
End of conversation.
It happens all the time. Couples want couple-friends—people they can laugh, share, and do activities with. But moving from acquaintances to actual friends can be an arduous journey. As in the example of the couple above, the hardest part is finding other couples who share your common values yet are also fun to be with.
Where do couples begin their search for other couple-friends? And how can they fit all the aspects of developing new relationships into their already busy lives?
WHO DO YOU INVITE?
There are couples all around you—at church, work, and in your neighborhood. The first step is choosing who you want to get to know.
- Take A Look Around: Make a mental or written list with of several couples you’d both like to know better, giving each spouse a few individual picks.
- Beyond Your Comfort Zone: “While it is helpful to look for friends who share common goals and beliefs, be open to those with different backgrounds and lifestyles,” says Colleen Evens, co-author of Can I Afford Time for Friendships? (Stormie Omartian, Ruth Senter, Colleen Evans, Bethany House, 1994, pg. 176) “Cross the line—don’t look for a couple that’s a clone of you two. When a couple is different from you, the result can often be a very rich, fun, and stretching relationship.”
- Get To Know More Than One Couple: As a couple, you have various interests that will never completely match up with another couple. A variety of friends will complement your likes and introduce you and your spouse to new hobbies and interests.
- Much Hope and Few Expectations: “Don’t be discouraged when couple friendships don’t come quickly or easily,” says Evans. “Keep in mind they are much more difficult because of the added number of people involved in the relationship. Setting your expectations too high by saying ‘we must have a couple friendship’ only creates stress. Instead, when the opportunities arise, let a friendship flow.”
YOU’VE INVITED THEM, NOW WHAT DO YOU DO?
It can be intimidating when you first spend time with people you don’t know well. But whether you invite them into your home or suggest an alternative meeting spot, here are suggestions to make the most of your time together.
- Be Yourselves: Don’t worry about making a good impression. Relax, have fun, and enjoy. Plan ahead so awkward silences don’t sneak up on you. Have board games, videos, or an activity prepared in case your time together needs a little pizzazz.
- Offer an Inviting Home: Be willing to open your home, even if it isn’t spotless. If you can’t afford steaks for dinner, barbecue hot dogs. Or go simpler with a dessert invitation.
- Away From Home: Often the easiest place to meet is at a restaurant or neutral area. If you ask a couple or two out for a meal, don’t feel you must pick-up the bill. Invite by saying, “We’ve been wanting to get to know you better; perhaps we could meet at a restaurant this week. What’s a place within our budgets?”
- Even Farther Away: Camping trips, weekends away, or a couples’ conference are enjoyable ways to develop a deeper friendship and build shared memories.
WHY DO COUPLES NEED COUPLE-FRIENDS?
“Often we get so caught up in our own drive to succeed and accomplish that we neglect our human relationships and it is these relationships that can give us the most depth and meaning,” says Janet Luhrs, in her book The Simple Living Guide (Broadway Books, 1997, Pg. 133). “In order to nurture other people, we need to be fully present and, better yet, fully real. When we let down our guard, we can get closer to people, and thus, we can move into a relationship of deeper care.”
Reaching out to other couples may also strengthen your own marriage.
“Couple friendships are not only possible, they are God’s gift to marriages,” says Stormie Omartian, co-author with Evans. “Some of the women I consider my closest friends are the wives of men whom my husband considers his closest friends. Spending time together as a foursome is not only fulfilling and enriching, but our marriage is better because of it.”
The most rewarding thing about couple-friends is that the relationships you initiate with a simple invitation can grow and deepen over time. The friends you meet at the park today, with their kids in tow, may someday drive their motor home behind yours as you travel as retirees. This is the power of couple-friends, not just good times, but close bonds and enriched lives—for you, your spouse, and the couple you reach out to.
What about you? How do you make couple-friends?
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