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Family and Consumer Sciences

College of Agriculture and Natural Resources

LIFE - Individual Growth and Development

Learning and Helping Strategies for Families and Friends of Couples

  • Take care of your own role model by
  • Prioritizing time together with your partner
  • Demonstrating affection and respect to your partner
  • Talking about things that strengthen your relationship (not bragging, just commenting)
  • Be available to listen to couple friends
  • Listen without judging who’s to blame
  • Listen without giving advice or taking sides
  • Listen and affirm your friend’s value (without having to agree with an opinion which may divide him or her from a partner—be an advocate for the relationship)
  • If possible, listen to both partners
  • Encourage them to talk to each other first—they need to be their own first line of problem solving and support
  • Encourage the couple not to give up—working at it is half the battle
  • Urge them to talk things out, using problem solving skills
  • Reflect on their actions from the other person’s viewpoint
  • Recommend that they spend five times as much time showing care and affection as they do in arguing
  • Encourage them to read and learn—especially about communication skills
  • Introduce couple friends to other couples or professionals who could encourage or assist them
  • Provide friendship which complements rather than competes or corrodes the relationship
  • Use time with one (or both) members to enjoy companionship and mutual support rather than dwell on the faults of a spouse or troubles of the relationship
  • Show respect and support for your friend’s (child’s, sibling’s) spouse—as if you were his/her best friend and wanted to bring the best out of him/her
  • Avoid meeting at times when your friend/relative has couple/family obligations
  • Discourage talk about alternative relationships or activities which compromise marital commitment (pornography, flirting, drunkenness, etc.: even though it’s up to each person to take care of their own relationship, it’s a lot easier when their friends are encouraging them to do the right thing)
  • In a spirit of caring, gently remind your friend of promises and accountability when he/she messes up in the relationship
  • Give couple friends gifts every once-in-a-while which help them build a strong relationship. For example…
  • Babysitting (for their night out)
  • Pictures (of their happy times together)
  • Practical items (tables, stools, cribs, etc.) from garage sales
  • Practical help (home improvement, lawn care) to teach skills and save money
  • Hospitality (dinner invitation or just listening)
  • Celebration (shared successes or events for one which affirm the other: "She couldn’t have done it without him behind her.")

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