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Doing Things with Friends

I took an overnight trip this week to Old Sturbridge Village. I met up with a long-time girlfriend there. We had a great time, talking, eating, watching the presidential debate, and showing her around one of my favorite places on earth.

I had lots of time to think on the long ride there and again on the way back, too, and I thoroughly enjoyed the fall scenery along the way.

One of the things I thought about on the way back was a very sad article in the Huffington Post when they first started their Divorce section. A man who had recently divorced was asked what was better now that his marriage was over. The only thing he came up with was this: "Now, if I want to go have a beer with my friends after work, I can."

Our expectations shape our marriages. The only thing keeping him from having a beer with friends while married was his expectation about the consequences. His expectations probably grew out of what his wife had to say about her expectations of married life, which grew out of watching imperfect adults through the eyes of a child. They let their love die rather than examine those expectations and find a way to love each other that nourished both of them.

I had a great time on my trip. My husband reports watching a marathon of movies he knew I would not enjoy while I was away. We both had stories to share with each other when I returned. It was good for our marriage.

Today, I learned that Chris Peterson, the incredible University of Michigan psychology professor whose research into character strengths I was lucky enough to get to help with and have often cited to you, died last week. Chris was only two years older than I am. I was reminded once again that we don't have forever to get this love thing right.

As I read several reports of his passing, I was also reminded repeatedly of his slogan, his summation of all the research findings of positive psychology: other people matter.

If you're trying to hold your marriage together by avoiding spending time with your friends (or by avoiding spending time with your spouse), please don't. Other people matter. Spend some time with them. Do things with your friends, both as a couple and on your own.

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Patty Newbold is a widow who got it right the second time...

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