Friendship in the Family

by James Rudy Gray

Proverbs 17:17 says, " A friend loves at all times ." Friendship is something that should be practiced in our homes. While parents cannot be buddies with their children, they can be friendly. The kids can be blessed immensely as they observe real friendship lived out between their mother and father.

The building of a family is somewhat like building a house. First, you have to have a piece of property-that's commitment to Christ. Second, you must lay a good foundation-that's the practice of love. Then, you proceed to build the structure-that's the expression of individual differences.

James Rudy GrayA healthy family is a place where friendship is practiced. John Gottman, professor and researcher at the University of Washington, has been called the country's foremost relationship expert. He has said that the quality of a couple's friendship affects every area of the marriage relationship. For example, 70 percent of both men and women said their satisfaction with sex, romance, and passion in their marriage was directly related to the quality of their friendship.

Friends practice loving consistently. They care for each other, value the other person, and show respect to them. Children have a tremendous opportunity to learn about genuine friendship when their parents are friends.

Gottman has reported a surprising truth about marriage. "Most marital arguments cannot be resolved." If arguments cannot be resolved, what happens? That depends on whether the people involved are really practicing the dynamics of genuine friendship. Too often, great energy is spent in attempting to handle, change, or manipulate the other person. It usually does not work very well. It certainly is not a positive way to build a relationship.

However, acceptance does work. Friends are accepting. Most arguments in marriage are rooted in fundamental differences of our personalities. While differences can be altered with skill development, they will not basically change. For example, an extrovert will be an extrovert and an introvert will be an introvert. Acceptance of the differences is healthy.

Trying to change the other person's basic personality leads to conflict, tension, alienation, and frustration. Accepting the other person-with all his or her imperfections-leads to understanding, closeness, and satisfaction.

Roles can help or hinder a marriage. It depends on how those roles are interpreted and used. According to Ephesians 6:1-4, children are to honor and obey their parents, and parents are to be understanding with their children. Wives are to be subject to their husbands (Eph. 5:22), and husbands are to love their wives enough to die for them (Eph. 5:25). Too often, though, the roles get misinterpreted and abused. We must understand that the roles will only function effectively when they function out of the foundation of love. Jesus said the greatest thing we can do is to love God and the second greatest is to love our neighbor. Our mate is our number one neighbor! The practice of love, which is the characteristic of friendship, is the principle that affects everything in our lives.

The kids should be given the blessing of growing up in a home where they see friendship practiced.