Strength of Friendships: Sweet Maple Butternut Squash!
I looked at my husband across the table the night that we had our friends over for dinner. I see what happens when we share our lives with others, as we talk about meaningful things and personal experiences with friends who really care about our lives, and we theirs. Friends with whom we can discuss anything with no fear. Instead of irrelevant blather, my husband and I grow together when we are with good friends. And we do actually feel closer to one another by the end of the night.
Richard Slatcher, an assistant professor of psychology at Wayne State University who specializes in social and health psychology, has been married for almost 15 years. He and his wife have made close friends as a couple, and they feel that those friendships have enhanced their own union. Recent research in the journal Personal Relationships shows that dating couples who hang out with couple-friends wind up feeling closer to each other. They determined that not only did friendships blossom from chatting about stuff that matters, but couples indicated feeling more positive about their own relationships after befriending a new couple.
Now I realize this study says “dating” couples, but I feel this is for anyone … single, dating, or married.
We need each other and we can offer encouragement and strength to our relationships and friendships.
A stimulating time in conversation, yes! But the food was great, too, so I thought I’d share my menu with you:
This easy appetizer
Green salad with strawberries, toasted walnuts, avocado, and sweet onion
Sweet Maple Butternut Squash (recipe below)
Chicken with Goat Cheese, Basil and Balsamic Glaze
Sweet Maple Butternut Squash
2 pounds Buttnernut squash, peeled and cut into small cubes (1″ or smaller)
2 apples, peeled and cut into small cubes (1″ or smaller)
Place the squash and apples on a 1-inch deep baking sheet and cover with 2 Tablespoons of water. Roast at 400 for about 20 minutes, stirring often.
Combine 1/4 cup butter, 1/4 pure maple syrup, 1/2 tsp. salt, 1 tsp. cinnamon and 1 tsp. nutmeg together. Add in 1/2 cup pecans or walnuts. Right before serving add to the baked mixture and place back into the oven and roast another 10 minutes.
Our guests brought wine and dessert. My husband helped me in the kitchen about an hour before our friends arrived.
After this night of delicious food, really good heart-felt conversation, I’d say that we definitely feel closer to this couple, more so than we did before.
I’d love to hear your thoughts or experiences on this topic.
Do you believe that closeness with another couple while dining can deepen your marriage relationship?
Here’s a different version for Roasted Butternut Squash and Apple.
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May I just say I love this menu, and the butternut squash looks absolutely glorious. I love when we are together with close friends. I’m always learning something new about himself, and I’m sure he would say the same. I think good friendship is rare and strengthens all of us.
Sandy. .I couldn’t agree with you more. While we mentor engaged couples around a table we often urge them to surround themselves with healthy couple relationships. In our experience we have seen how valuable good marriage examples are. I also recognize that when we spend time with these young couples. ..our marriage is encouraged and we benefit along with them.
Great post Sandy . .wonderful advice.
This is so true. I think it truly brings a couple together to have other couples to share their lives with. It’s kind of like couples dating couples – sharing great food and conversation!
What a great post Sandy. And I love all the comments. I think is true that when we have other couples around us they bring out something in ourselves and our spouses that maybe we’d otherwise take for granted or not know about.
CS Lewis has a wonderful book called The Four Loves. The chapter on friendship spoke to me deeply.
“In each of my friends there is something that only some other friend can fully bring
out. By myself I am not large enough to call the whole man into activity; I want other lights than my own to show all his facets.”
Another words, the beauty of entertaining and sharing our lives with others and sharing those moments with your spouse… you will see what others bring out in each other… that you yourself may never fully bring out in the other. Someone else will draw out a part of my husband that I may not have even known before. What a gift we are to each other.
That is beautiful!!! I love how you put it and it’s so true.
So not only is dating once married encouraged, but double dating! Fun!
We have such an event planned in a few weeks with some friends. We’ve already determined that this get together is a no children event. Just us, as adults.
I am already so looking forward to it!
I definitely feel this way. Hosting is something my husband and I both enjoy doing together.
A few weeks ago, we had a small birthday party for my daughter with some close friends. Some of the parents ended up staying, and I put out a very simple lunch for them, and they helped eat cake. We had such a relaxed, enjoyable time, and people hung out much longer than I would have expected. It made me wonder why we don’t do that more often.
Do you have any suggestions for ways to host spontaneous, relaxed get-togethers? I feel in the past when we have had people over for dinner, it has been a little stiff and awkward… especially when it was just one other couple. Do you think having multiple couples helps make everyone more comfortable? Or is it more about what you serve and how? I would love to hear more about how to keep things casual and comfortable, but still be intentional about having people over.
My husband and I just hosted a couple for dinner this past weekend. Our hosting has changed drastically since the arrival of our twin daughters a year ago—-it makes evenings like these precious. We’ve also learned/accepted that toys must be out and about for our girls, and things aren’t going to be neat and tidy.
I think you posted recently about a home being TOO neat and orderly. That was probably me before babies. Now things are much more laidback, and I think we are better for it!
Anyway–once our girls went to bed, we had dinner. The couple remarked several times that our home was so inviting, and they enjoyed spending time here. I can’t tell you how that warmed my heart (especially as I spied a waywardly stacking cup lying in the middle of the living room). We had calzones, and everyone had to prepare their own. It was lovely, and took so much of the pressure off!
Because evenings such as these are so few and far between—I cease being so much of a “doer” I just sit and fellowship and enjoy, and I don’t worry about presenting the perfect meal/ambiance. The conversation is what I craved and looked forward to. We don’t have family in town, and are not often able to get out by ourselves. So–when the company can come to us, it is great for us and our marriage. We have resolved that we need to invite people over more often for evenings like that. I’d agree with the study—I believe it DOES help couples to feel closer when they fellowship with other couples.
yummy!!! I love Calzones! I love the idea of making individual servings, then people can add whatever they want. I will remember this
Sandy, Thank you for this thought-provoking post. I agree that spending time with friends brings out things about each other we didn’t know before and can make us feel more connected. Have a wonderful week!
I absolutely agree! My husband and I both love entertaining, and I feel like besides the conversation, we just love doing something that we both enjoy – together, and the experience of working as a team and accomplishing a lovely evening is so rewarding! We were definitely meant to entertain together :-)
This is so very true. My husband and I hang out with several different couples – some of them are camping friends and some of them are neighborhood friends…and the others are picked up friendships from our sons sports teams. And the one thing I’ve noticed is what you’ve just said. We feel extremely in tune with one another after the close of the evening.
I wish that someone would have told me this as a young bride – how extremely important it is to nurture these couple friendships. We’ve also found this one couple that is going through some really tough challenges right now and find ourselves being that escape for them. And i don’t mind at all.
I agree Sandy. My husband & I have been married 31 years and I can honestly say that entertaining in those early years allowed me to know things about him that otherwise would have taken years. He would share stories… convictions… his journey… and his vulnerability was infectious. And it deepened our marriage. It still happens. We see a side of our spouse in the company of others that makes it worth it to open our homes… to set the table (pardon the pun)… to create a safe place to tell our story… to share our hearts… and allow other couples to experience the same thing with their significant other.
I love this, it puts words to what my heart feels after an evening with friends. You are such a wonderful encouragement to me.
You menu looks delish,