If you want to see a person’s future, just look at their friends. You become whom you hang out with.
Allow immoral friends into your life, and you are likely to find yourself sliding into immoral behavior.
Surround yourself with kind, compassionate, and loving people, and you are likely to find yourself becoming kinder, more compassionate, and more loving.
Peer pressure can be negative or positive, but there’s no overstating the power it plays in a person’s life.
We know this, of course, as parents. Friends have incredible influence on our children. I’ve known parents who did everything right—teaching right from wrong, taking their kids to church, praying as a family—only to lose the parenting battle because a child fell in with the wrong crowd.
Sometimes it might be just one ungodly kid who undermines a parent’s hard work. I know kids who grew up in devout households with wonderful, loving parents…only to go astray by making friends with the wrong person. Today they are making choices that will forever impact the direction of their lives.
But if we view peer pressure only as something impacting teens, we endanger our marriages. Peer pressure influences adults, too, in both good and bad ways.
Years ago, when Karen and I were struggling in our marriage, we joined a church and plugged into a class led by Kerm and Lou Ethel, an older couple. Our relationship wasn’t great at the time. Karen and I argued constantly.
One day, after a huge disagreement, Karen called the Ethels and told them we were fighting. So the Ethels asked us out to dinner. I was furious and embarrassed by this turn of events, and the meal was awkward. I’m sure they noticed the giant invisible wall Karen and I had erected between us.
But over dinner, the Ethels began to tell us their story, sharing how much they fought over the years, and about the times they wondered if their marriage would survive.
I was stunned. They seemed so perfect together. Kerm and Lou fought?
Karen and I didn’t say much on the way home, but we were both thinking the same thing: If Kerm and Lou can get past what they went through and end up this much in love, then maybe there’s hope for us, too.
We felt relief and encouragement. We were challenged by their example to stick with it, to press on. Their influence on us was profoundly positive.
Every marriage needs a “Kerm and Lou” to look up to. And every marriage should strive to be a Kerm and Lou for someone else.
As for negative influence, if you find yourself struggling in your marriage, I encourage you to look at the people you’ve allowed into your life. Are they people you want to emulate? Do they have the kind of marriage you want to have? Do they treat each other with love and respect? Are they influencing you for good?
Choose your friends wisely. They impact you far more than you think.