I’m Grace. I’m twenty-five years old, I’m single and I live in a share house. I never used to bother putting any work into making the share houses I lived in a pleasant and safe environment to live.
I always assumed it was temporary. ‘I’ll get married one day, and I won’t have to deal with this anymore,’ I thought to myself. But years continue to go by, and I’m just as single as I was when I moved out of home at eighteen. And I’m starting to realise that my home, and my relationships with my housemates, are worth investing in.
Unfortunately, we live in a culture that often places romantic love on a pedestal and doesn’t value the beauty of platonic relationships. Consequentially, there aren’t many resources available for adults who are looking to learn how to be a better friend or a better housemate.
Today, it’s Galentine’s day: a day to focus on your friendships and your housemates and how to make those relationships flourish. There are plenty of places you can look to find tips to nurture and strengthen a marriage, but far fewer places to find thoughtful friendship advice. Having looked at some of the tips that are provided for couples committed to working on their marriage, I think much of it could be applied to friendships, as well as relationships in share households.
There are plenty of places you can look to find tips to nurture and strengthen a marriage, but far fewer places to find thoughtful friendship advice.
So, let’s try to apply advice given to married couples to friendships.
Building a Safe & Strong Marriage is a Christian marriage enrichment course. In this course, two of the important principles that couples are encouraged to focus on are:
- ‘Little things every day’ – a good marriage is not made with grand gestures such as a trip to Paris, but from communicating and reaching out to each other regularly in small positive ways – in a text message, smiling at each other, saying please and thank you, having fun and laughing together, praying for each other.
- ‘Do your bit towards helping your relationship improve’ – don’t wait for the other to reach out and do something – you start first!
Both these ideas can be applied more generally to friendships. Small tensions and misunderstandings are an inevitable feature of less-than-perfect people relating with each other. It’s easy to see how applying these principles might be of benefit.
The Gottman Institute, which has been researching relationships for decades, has a twice weekly ‘marriage minute’ email containing small tips and advice for improving marriage relationships. A recent tip (Source: https://www.gottman.com/marriage-minute/) encouraged couples to make intentional effort to stay well-connected with their partner. They offered suggestions such as making the effort every day to do small things for one another and to express appreciation for each other; regularly giving compliments; and being intentional about spending time together and being fully present.
While this advice is intended for married couples, it provides me with beautiful insights that I can apply to my own friendships and housemates.
As Christians, we can think more intentionally about how we are loving, caring for and building connection with our friends. So, this week, why not try some of these small things with a friend and see how your relationship changes and improves!
I don’t think marriage should be the only place where Christians can experience being known well and loved deeply.
Happy Galentines day!