I was talking with my sister the other day as we reminisced about our relationship and the word friendship popped up. I realized in that brief moment that friendship is a complicated, often misunderstood, nomenclature. I say this because although the word is defined as a unique relationship between two people, most definitions do not capture the complexity of our friendships.
Consider: Is my sister my friend? Is my daughter? Or, my husband? We automatically assume the answer is yes but it could also be no. Let me explain. My two sisters and I have a relationship because we share the same mother and father, but that does not make us friends. I know a few people who have siblings they have eliminated from their lives for one reason or the other.
When your sibling is your friend, you share a relationship that is nurtured by a love that is expressed in different ways. I describe my sisters as my friends because we confide in each other; I call when great things happen and when I experience disappointment or loss. Your siblings are the people you laugh and cry with, but they are also the people who know your full history. Whether you like it or not, you are irrevocably connected to your siblings ~ regardless of whether you speak to them or not; at the core is a bond that is irreplaceable. My thought is that friends may come and go, but my sisters are forever.
My daughter has become my best friend. The mother-daughter lines are slowly fading and the bond of friendship is gradually growing. Of course, I will always be her mother and will attempt to provide my best advice. But, I realize my advice is just that, advice. As a self-sufficient adult with her own children, my advice has become nothing she feels compelled to follow, but rather it is now more information to help her make an informed decision. As our relationship slowly transforms, I feel our roles reversing. I am amazed at her quiet manner when listening to me, and only offering her advice when I ask for it. She is a dear friend who cautions and encourages me; loves me unconditionally. I so enjoy sharing my life with her, and I take pride in knowing she is her own person. I am thrilled that she is living her life and making the decisions that are the most valuable to her.
Is my husband my friend? A resounding, YES! He is my friend, my lover, my counselor, my biggest fan, and the person with whom I am seeing the world for the first time.
In my humble opinion, if your husband or significant other is not your friend you really don’t have a sincere relationship. He or she should be the person you can share your deepest thoughts with, the person with whom you can be completely honest. This is the person where truth is never filtered. My husband wrote in Winter’s Love, “You naturally express love by being caring, forgiving, kind, patient, hopeful, supportive, and selfless.” This, to me, is the true definition of friendship.
In closing, I must include girlfriends in this conversation. I refer to them as “my girls.” Girlfriends are your sisters without the biological tie; sometimes your connection can be stronger than the bond you share with your sisters. If you don’t have strong, trusting relationships with your “girls”, you are missing out on a truly wonderful experience. They counsel you, tell you the truth and listen to your endless babbling about nothing. I love my girlfriends.
The Lebanese-American artist, poet, and writer Khalil Gibran wrote in The Prophet, “A friend is a needs answer.”