When my husband and I were engaged, we went to a seminar for engaged couples. There are two things that stand out in my mind about that seminar. First, the presenters offered a box where people could ask anonymous questions to be addressed by the presenters, and one of the questions was, “What if I don’t want to be engaged?” Everyone was looking around thinking, “Who wrote that?” and “Gee, I hope it wasn’t my partner!” Second, one person asked about the role of friendships for married people, and a presenter said that he did not think people should talk with their friends about their mates and the things going on in their relationships because relationship issues are private and should only be discussed by the people involved.
There are times in every relationship where it feels like you keep being handed the “for worse” end of “for better or for worse.” Your partner gets fired or develops health problems or struggles with his path in life. When this happens, you are presented with a choice: to be supportive or to be resentful and critical. Choosing to be supportive at those critical junctions can have a tremendously positive effect on your relationship, and in my experience, your friendships can make a big difference in how supportive you are during these times.
Now, I didn’t agree with the presenter, as I had already seen many times in my time dating my husband that my friends helped me work through issues and provided important support for my relationship. Talking with them made my relationship stronger when we were dating, and I have continued to see that happen during my marriage. I think I understand where he was coming from, though, because I have also seen groups of friends discussing their partners in ways that encourage criticism and dramatic, unhealthy approaches to relationship issues.
When you think of the times when you need support from your partner, you can see that being supportive of your partner during the difficult times is essential for your relationship health. The friends you choose can make a huge difference in how supportive you are able to be. If you are going to talk with friends about your relationship, make sure they are friends who support your partner as well as you and who provide helpful solutions instead of encouraging you toward criticism and solutions that help you at the expense of your partner. Your relationship will thank you for it.