Months ago, pre-Covid, as I cleaned up after the gathering of friends we had hosted for dinner, a stack of dishes stared indifferently back at me from my sink. I had the slightest inclination to grit my teeth in frustration as I looked up and surveyed the crumbs and empty glasses and piles of toys all around me. But then my mindset shifted; to one of fullness stemming from time well-spent investing in friendship.
My Husband, the Extrovert
I would not consider myself an extrovert. I enjoy spending time with friends, but usually in a more intimate setting rather than in a larger group. Hosting big gatherings is my husband’s forte. Our annual Christmas cookie exchange was his brainchild.
His greatest love in life (or at least in October) is decorating a flatbed trailer with hay bales, Halloween lights, and cobwebs. Then, he assembles our friends and their kids to go “trailer-treating,” towing us all around the neighborhood, stopping every few blocks to let the kids scatter from house to house to collect candy.
He also loves to carpool. Anytime, anywhere. He loves to have everyone together, riding in the same car. It prolongs the opportunity for conversation and connection. Sometimes, my inner introvert finds this obnoxious. I don’t always feel like making small talk. Or I’ve stored up a running list of topics over the day that I’ve been waiting to discuss with him on the drive. You know, in the privacy of our own vehicle.
But, as I think about parties hosted and rides shared among friends, especially in our current climate, I am overwhelmingly thankful for the people-person of a man I married. For his high investment in fostering friendships.
The Growth and Expansion of Friendship
My husband has an uncanny knack of making friends with anyone. He can strike up a conversation and keep it going for what feels like hours. He has plenty of friends.
Yet, what I’ve noticed at this point in our middle-aged, family-oriented lives, is that I am the one making many of the new friends. Mostly mom friends, because of how easily we relate over a shared sense of the humor and exhaustion that coexist with motherhood. And as these friendships grow, so does an interest in expanding each relationship beyond coffee shops and playgrounds. Soon enough, we’re usually making plans to get our families together.
Cue the meet-cute for the husbands/partners/significant others. It’s always a little nerve-wracking that first time, wondering how they’ll get along. How invested in the growing friendship will they be? But in what seems like no time at all, my husband has made a friend, as well.
Soon enough, he is texting my friend’s husband to go skiing or to take the kids to dinner and the pool for what has now been deemed “Dad’s Night.” He plans date nights or family boating days at the lake. Half of the time, I haven’t even helmed the planning at all, much less been involved in it.
Personal Investment in Friendship
On the surface, I find it humorous that some of his strongest friendships have grown out of mine. But I also have deep gratitude for a partner who values my relationships with my friends so much that he is willing to put himself out there for my sake. To create his own lasting friendships, too.
He also invests in my friendships genuinely. He’s warm and welcoming toward my friends and displays an interest in getting to know them. He offers to help their families when they need it. He supports my desire to cultivate my friendships and the time and energy that requires.
How much more meaningful is it when we feel supported in our needs by those that we love? When we aren’t made to feel selfish or guilty, but instead encouraged and motivated in our friendships, job pursuits, learning endeavors, or personal growth? I feel exponentially empowered in the knowledge that someone has my back.
Return on Investment
And furthermore, how much does our own personal investment in something enhance how it contributes to our lives? As I grow older, the quality of my friendships brings greater joy to my life. And knowing that my partner is equally invested in the growth of my friendships makes it all the more worthwhile. It also reminds me of the importance of returning this investment back into his life, his friendships, his interests, as well.
Maybe it’s not your partner who best supports you. Maybe it’s your parent, your sister, your coworker, or your friend. I hope you have someone in your life who cares about you enough to weigh in on the things that matter most to you. And maybe the personal interest they have shown in your life makes you want to return the wealth, too.
He isn’t perfect, and neither am I. We both have our faults and our shortcomings. But right about now, I’m going to take a minute to give him a hug. To tell him that I appreciate him. To thank him for his investment in my friendships and for seeing their importance to me. Then, I’m going to make sure I return the investment tenfold.
So, in an effort to best support what matters most to him, I guess I’ll hang onto my 7-seater of a mom-mobile. I’ll need the extra room to foster his carpooling habit. But I’m drawing the line at 15-passenger van. That’s not happening in a million years.