With Caution: Becoming Friends with New Couples Making friends with the new couple in town can be a great way to refresh your marriage. But, itís important to know who these people are. Hereís how. BY DR. NOELLE NELSON
New friends can recharge your marriage because you and your spouse will begin to do new activities together, which is good for a marriage.
“ How we treat each other is the product of long standing habits: these can be changed, but only over time and with persistent diligence.”
A new couple moved into the neighborhood, and all of a sudden, you and your husband are their new "besties." Within weeks, youíre not only back and forth at each otherís homes for barbecues, dinners and game-day, but youíre heavy into discussions about vacationing together, and even considering setting up a business together.
This couple is fun! They're dynamic, exciting, and they seem to have reinvigorated your own marriage, which compared to their lighthearted style, felt stale. You and your husband feel more enthusiastic about life and each other than you have in years.
All very well and good, butÖ you donít know these people. You may feel like you do because youíve shared some fun times together, but thatís all youíve sharedósome fun times.
Before you engage on more committed ventures than barbecues and ball games, consider who this couple really is. No, thereís no need to hire a private investigator (although itís always an option), really all you need is your own eyes, ears and common sense. Youíre not looking for "dirt," youíre simply attempting to come to a fuller, more comprehensive picture of who these folks are before you commit more of your very valuable time, energy and money.
1. Observe. Observe how the couple treats other people, such as friends, employees, family, parking lot attendants, waiters, their mother, and how they talk about other people. Do they treat other people with consideration? Do they pay attention when others speak? Do they behave with kindness or respond offhand, treating the other person more as a thing than as a human being? Do they talk about other people in positive ways, mentioning their qualities, their value, or do they put down other people, pointing out weaknesses and flaws?
You will be treated exactly like the couple treats others. Don't think that the fun you now have together will make any difference. How we treat each other is the product of long standing habits: these can be changed, but only over time and with persistent diligence.
2. Give a little at a time. Don't give all of yourself (your time, your energy, your focus, your attention, your secrets, your talents, your money) all at once. Give a little of whatever, then stand back and watch what the couple does with it. If they treat your offering with respect and appreciation, terrific! Give a little more. Then stand back and watch.
Repeat this process, giving yourself the benefit of observation over time. In the end, if the couple starts taking without appreciation; or abuses your confidence; or comes up flakey; you'll know it way before you've given so much, leaving you or your spouse feeling used and abused.
If on the other hand, you observe that the couple is respectful of others, responsible and accountable, and treats others well, bravo! You can continue to develop the relationship to the benefit of all concernedóand indeed embrace your new "bestie."
Noelle C. Nelson, Ph.D., is a relationship expert, popular speaker in the U.S. and abroad, and author of nine best-selling books, including "Your Man is Wonderful" and "Dangerous Relationships." Dr. Nelson focuses on how we can all enjoy happy, fulfilling lives while accomplishing great things in love, at home and at work, as we appreciate ourselves, our world and all others. For more, visit www.noellenelson.com and follow her on Twitter @DrNoelleNelson and Google+.