We may struggle accepting the friends our partners pick; those who for reasons we know or don’t know grate upon us or drive us up the wall. We have no idea the affinity our partners have with these people as they wouldn’t be our choice for friends at all.
Sure, you can’t choose your family (most of the time) but surely a better choice of friends is in the offing. That’s perhaps our thinking; a mode of thinking fraught with danger.
The trouble with this thinking, no matter how appropriate it may seem, is it’s going to create resistance in our partners and then resentment, not to mention the conflict that always unsettles otherwise good things. The trouble with unresolved resentments is how they continue to rear up like cobras of the past to sting us on the neck of the present-found future.
Respecting our partner’s friendships is one way we respect our partners. And respecting them is loving them.
Respecting Relationship Boundaries
Respecting our partner’s friendships is also about respecting important boundaries within the relationship. If their friends are really that bad for them we may ask why are we in this relationship to begin with?
Rare it is that one partner will implement another partner’s advice regarding friendships they have, and not feel deeply resentful in years to come.
For many of us there is a great deal of work and prayer involved in coming to a place of accepting our partner’s friends. The best result is not only the freeing up of relational space that the friendship might blossom, but that we might eventually engage in some way with the friend ourselves.
We can afford to be honest and in fact most people will respect the fact that we’re open about how hard it is to provide this freedom. It still needs to be done tactfully; wisely.
When we respect a relationship boundary we’re inviting our partners to reciprocate; that they might respect us in a way that’s important. It’s important that this is not an expectation, but simply a hope—a wish based on a good investment.
Allowing and accepting our partners’ friendships is about respecting relationship boundaries. We don’t have to be involved with them, but we do need to allow our partners their space to nurture same-gender peer relationships. We would want that space for ourselves. Such respect as this is a very practical sort of love.
© 2013 S. J. Wickham.