Be the Kind of Friend You Need

Be the kind of friend you need, and start at home. In a world where a lot of people are talking and a lot of people can hear, who are the ones who are truly listening? Good friends listen with their hearts. You can tell they are listening by their reply. Their words echo something you said, but they add meaning, compassion, validation, and clarity to them. You can also tell that they pay attention and listen by the things they do in response. Do they follow up and follow through?

Growing up, my brother had my back, and I had his. In the military, my Air Force sisters had my back, and I had theirs. I met the man who would become my husband when I was 17-years-old, wearing braces, at a phone booth. I’m serious! For those of you who don’t know what a phone booth is, Google it. And, I’m still BFF’s with my best friend from high school, but we’ve been separated by distance ever since I left for the Air Force in 1991. Needless to say, my husband has been my constant and closest friend for 26+ years. I didn’t start having more quality girlfriends until around the age of 36, and as I look back and as I look around at the Warrior Moms and Warrior Wives that surround me now, I don’t know how I ever survived without them. They inspire me to be the kind of friend I need.

Lately, I am reminded of the importance of all of these things, and more importantly, I am reminded of the importance of being the kind of friend I need. -First and foremost, I’ve been challenged to consider am I the kind of friend my husband can count on? Do I listen well? Does he know he is my priority? Or, am I too tired and too comfortable with him because I can be?

When an 80-something-year-old couple who had been married for 60+ years were asked, “What’s the secret to being happily married as long as the two of you?” Their reply was, “We treat each other like strangers.”

At first this may sound odd; after all, how can two people be like strangers if they’ve been married 60+ years?! It makes sense when you think about it….. We are all on our best behavior when we are out in public. It’s easy to be nice to a stranger because we don’t know them from Adam; plus, we know we have to act right in public, least we want to be socially rejected or arrested. But at home, we can act as rude and horrible as we want because the public eye is not on us.

I heard a story about a lady who was rip-roaring all over the house with her mouth, complaining about her husband and kids and all the work and stuff she always has to do that she’s sick and tired of doing and, she added, “And I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired; I’m going to go on strike!” And then, there was a knock at the door. Low and Behold, it was the Homeowner’s Association President, coming by to see how the new fence was coming along as well as to touch base regarding planning the neighborhood Spring Treasure Hunt for the kiddos….

(Insert kind, fake voice change here): “Oh, hello So and So; Soooooooooooooooo nice to see you; won’t you come in? Can I get you coffee or tea? How have you been? You must fill me in on every detail of what’s going on with you” (insert fake smile here).

Okay, I’m exaggerating a little, but you get my point.  I’d like to say, I was never as bad as that example, but when I think about it, maybe I was. After all, I used to put my cute little kids in their car-seats, and then I’d go inside and yell at my husband (because I didn’t want to scare the kids, after all), slamming the door, and practically doing 360’s in the grass before going to church. Oh, sure, I convinced myself that I was mad about a lot of “justifiable stuff”, but how embarrassing. Can you hear me now saying to myself, “Really, Self? Really?”

I’ve come a long way since then, and I’m still a work in progress that’s for sure. But, with kids grown and living off on their own, working and going to school, I look at my husband, and I think, “Man, he’s such a good man, and he’s put up with a lot of my shenanigans.” I want to be the kind of friend that he has been to me: loving unconditionally, encouraging, listening, asking, giving hugs and solutions in equal measure – leaning on the side of hugs because half the stuff that life deals me, there is no “fix” for, but most assuredly, it does require a constant, loving friend, to get me through. Now, before you barf, I never said my husband was perfect. Nobody is. But, he has been steadfast, content, logical, determined, and he does not believe in quitting at anything, which includes me – Thank God!

I’m challenging myself to act at least as nice at home as I do in public – on a consistent basis.

I want to be the kind of friend to my husband who listens with my heart. I want him to be able to tell I am really listening by my replies, adding, meaning, compassion, validation, and clarity. If he wants me to help problem solve, I want to roll up my sleeves and assist.  Most of all, I want my actions to speak louder than mere words. Since I believe that love is what love does; I have some doing to do.

Striving to be the kind of friend I need,