So here's the list, with a huge shout of thanks to all you wonderful married people who are lovely friends -
- When they invite me to be part of their family, including me in everyday events as well as special occasions, making me feel welcome in their homes, allowing me access to their children's lives.
- When they offer me practical help with things that are difficult to do by myself, e.g. house, garden, and car maintenance.
- When they treat me as an equal friend, rather than as someone in a lesser state than them to be pitied and looked after.
- When they look out for me to make sure that I'm safe and can get home late at night.
- When they don't treat my singleness as an unmentionable issue, but ask me how I feel about it and if I'm ok with it (but at the same time don't make it the only thing we ever talk about!).
- When they invite me round on my own, rather than feeling that they also need someone else there to make up the numbers so we're all couples.
- When they make me feel welcome and at ease in their home and not like I'm in the way or intruding.
- When they make sure I'm not alone at significant times like birthdays, Christmas, Easter and New Year's Eve.
- When they're willing to listen and act as a sounding board when I've got big decisions to make.
- When they invite me to eat with them, both on special occasions and also on ordinary days.
- When I'm able to sometimes spend time with just one of them on their own rather than always being part of a three.
- When they're open and honest and talk about their marriage in a balanced way.
- When they avoid being overly physically intimate when I'm there so that I don't feel awkward.
- When they pray for me and with me, and ask what I'd like them to pray for rather than assuming they know.
- When they invite me to go on holidays with them.
- When they give me hugs (and allow their children to do the same!).
I am SO grateful to have great friendships with some amazingly wonderful married friends who just 'get it' (and if they don't, say so, and say sorry, when necessary!). Some are my age, some are older; some have kids, some don't. In every case I think (I hope!) every party involved benefits from the friendship.
I hope if you're single you can identify some of these statements above in your friendships with married people (and maybe add some more to the list?). I hope if you're married you've done some of the stuff above - if not, why not pick one and go for it?!
Next time we might go for the negative list, but I thought we'd start on the plus side...!
And by way of evidence, here's a photo of one of my most favourite groups of people in the whole wide world, spoiling me on my birthday last year :-)