"So what do your friends think of your engagement?" This is a question my husband, Ted, and I ask often as we mentor engaged couples, while sitting on the back porch of our Georgia home. It may seem trivial, but we've found that this question can be very telling of the overall health of the couple's relationship.
Most often, the answer is, "Oh, they’re thrilled. They love him," or "A close friend is the one who introduced us!" They tell us of godly friends who support, encourage, and build up their relationship — who offer them accountability, prayer, or simple words of encouragement. These are the stories we love to hear.
Sometimes, though, we hear something different. He tells about how a particular friendship wears negatively on their relationship. She tells of friends who lack clear boundaries or don't view marriage as having strong value. It's these stories that give us cause for concern.
Why do we think friends are so important? It's quite simple really. The community of friends a couple surrounds themselves with can make or break the relationship.
It beckons back to that "choose friends wisely" mantra most of us heard from parents, teachers and youth leaders during our middle-school days. These people reminded us that our friends influence our decisions ... and we want to make good decisions, right? The logic follows that we should carefully choose those with whom we spend our time.
The same is true for men and women pursuing romantic relationships. As Ted and I navigated our own romance, more than a few years ago now, we discovered that the attitudes and opinions of those we chose to confide in mattered. A lot. What they thought, believed, and said about our relationship rubbed off on us and influenced our interactions with each other.
Step 1: Choose the Right Friends
Perhaps you're currently in a relationship, or maybe you're still in the "hoping to be someday" chapter of your life. Either way, the same is true for you and your friendships. The close friends you keep have the potential to affect how you perceive and live out what it means to date and to one day marry.