I had a conversation with a couple recently who were looking to renew and sharpen some relationship skills. In getting to know them a little bit they shared stories about how they met, dating and of course how they came to be where they are today. One particular story stood out. Perhaps not the story so much but what wasn't spoken revealed quite a bit. They brought up the vacations they used to take together, yearly trips to exotic locations. I sat quietly, listening and watching, as they shared about resorts, beaches, islands-their faces lit up and the subtle distance in their eyes suggested that in their minds they were each back in those places, at least in their minds.
As quickly as they relished in the details of quite obviously wonderful times for both of them a silence began to take over as the memories faded away. When I inquired about where their most recent trip together had been, eyes went to the floor, a deep inhale could be heard followed by a moment of silence until they shared that they had not been on a trip together in years. I watched, intrigued and wondering what must have happened to cause this disruption in something they both obviously treasured.
When asked why they stopped traveling the answer was simply put-as they got older the idea of traveling that far from home was no longer as appealing, it seemed more stressful than relaxing. After inquiring about more local trips that they have been on, the husband commented that a trip to the mountains, which would only require a short distance of driving was something he had always wanted to do. "Sound great!" I said, "When are you going?" There was that silence again. "I have no interest in the mountains" replied his spouse.
When you think back to your best friends in high school or college, when you consider your best "girl" or "guy" friend today, what traits and memories stand out most? A quick search of what qualities a good friend possesses reveals a few key characteristics.
Support- they are there with you because they want to be, not because they feel pressured into it or stuck. They are that one person who will offer you encouragement, a shoulder to lean on or will sit with you in silence when no words are needed.
Respect: knowing that you will not always agree on things and that's perfectly okay, you can still appreciate the differences in one another and perhaps learn something new along the way.
Acceptance: once again it's embracing the fact that having different hobbies, interests, likes, dislikes and views is okay, you can still find a happy middle ground with some give and take.
Thoughtful: when I think of a thoughtful friend I am reminded of selfless acts even as simple as bringing them their favorite coffee or surprising them with tickets to see a favorite sports team even if you know nothing about the sport, you'll still have fun just seeing them happy.
I could keep going with character traits of good friends, but these four are a great start! How often are these qualities present in your relationship between you and your spouse or partner? Of course it's easier to consider how someone else treats us but just for a moment, look at yourself. How often do you make these qualities a priority?
As for the couple in the beginning of this story, they were able to practice some new communication skills they learned that day to share with one another some needs they each had and what they were each willing to give in order to strengthen their marital friendship. I've since heard that they fully enjoyed the scenery of the mountains and created some new vacation memories along the way.