If there’s one thing I feel I’ve consistently taken from granted in life, repeatedly, it’s friendship.
It’s easy when you’re young. You have time and everything is interesting. You can knock on a friend’s door unannounced and spend a night just goofing around or chatting. Dudes don’t think twice about a lengthy phone conversation with another dude.
Then you get a job and some time is taken away. And a spouse. And a family.
Then goofing off becomes an either/or proposition. “I can drink beer with Bobby, or I can spend it with my kids.”
If you love your spouse, you defer to the latter most of the time.
If you don’t, then you’re likely the subject of an old country song.
Eventually you grow out of the idea of a BFF, or you should. Your spouse and children become your best friends. It’s a good thing. There’s no one I’d rather spend time with.
But it’s important to have outside friends. People with a different perspective. People that haven’t heard the same stories a thousand times.
The easiest, most convenient way to do that? Family dating.
No, I’m not talking about swinging or romantic partners. I mean making friends as a couple; being friends as a unit with another family.
It’s hard. So damn hard.
The husbands get along but the wives don’t quite click. Or the kids are incompatible. “She might be an alcoholic.”
Or they’re toppers.
But when it clicks – husbands get along, wives get along, kids get along – my goodness, it’s magical. You want to hang out with them all the time, plan vacations, go on camping trips.
It’s not unlike traditional couples romance. You meet, sparks fly, and suddenly they can’t do any wrong. They obsess over each other and get incredibly irrational in their thinking about the other person.
Dr. Linda Carroll calls it The Merge – when you’re so enamored with the other person you stop thinking objectively. It’s dangerous.
Eventually things calm down, and you find yourself with an open night, tired kids, and a hard week of work.
You can plop the fam down in front of the TV and veg out. Or you can call up the friends – which means hosting, coming up with food, depleting your alcohol supply, and waking up to a trashed toy room and tons of dirty dishes.
It’s worth it.
We’re meant to be with other people – not televisions, computers, tablets, or anything else we use to create distance between us and humanity.
Life doesn’t last very long, and it’s better spent with others.
Cherish your friends, and always be open to a little family dating.