#2 Friends of the Marriage
I have amazing friends. I have friends that I teach with, friends that I've had since college, friends that have loved and supported me through so many things. So it's no surprise that when I felt that things were getting really rough for Erik and I, I sought the counsel of friends that I knew would support my point of view. Friends want the best for you. They don't like to see you hurting, and they don't necessarily like your spouse when you present your one-sided case.
It felt good to be validated and listened to. When they told me that I deserved to be happy, I held on to those words to justify the fact that I considered divorce to be the best option. After all, having to work so hard at something doesn't exactly bring happiness in the short-term. I don't blame my friends, because they did exactly what they were supposed to do with the knowledge they had. They are the best. But they are MY friends. What we needed were some OUR friends.
Erik convinced me to join a LifeGroup through our church during that time. This particular group was one for struggling marriages. I remember feeling that first night as people poured out their stories as though we had known each other for years, with no fear of judgement and no holding back, that we had found something special. There were many rough days that I texted the girls or called them crying, needing the kind of support that I never even knew I wanted. They would listen sympathetically, send me Bible verses, and most importantly, keep me on the right track without being judgmental. Erik would text the guys on his bad days and they would check in with him often. He would have dinner or coffee with them when his schedule allowed and they would talk him through his struggles. It was in those months that we realized that our marriage was worth saving, and we began to really try to put things back together.
There is one couple in particular that I really believe got us through our darkest days. Although we don't see them enough due to distance, we love them dearly and hold them in the highest esteem. We will never be able to express our gratitude to them for pushing us to work towards saving our marriage.
This is going to sound harsh, but when I see a person who is admittedly struggling in their marriage posting pictures of themselves with their newly divorced friends out at clubs or bars nightly, I can pretty much guarantee that their marriage will not make it. There's something about seeing a friend looking like they are living it up and enjoying their "freedom" (while probably masking a lot of pain), that makes a person who is living in the trenches long for a little bit of that same "freedom". Unfortunately, I have seen this play out quite a bit these past few months. If you truly want your marriage to work, you MUST invest in some additional friends that consider your marriage to be a priority, that will speak life into you BOTH, and will call either of you out on anything that conflicts with your goal. It may not be easy to open up, and it may be even harder to listen, but I believe at least one of these friendships is essential for the quickest healing. Even if the friendship only lasts for that rocky season, I can promise that its effects will last a lifetime.