I know that isn’t a world record of marriage, but I also know that I have seen couples married for both longer and shorter periods of time who are sadly missing one of the most important elements of marriage: a deep and abiding friendship.
God has somehow been gracious enough to bless my husband and me with that kind of friendship; one that is so real and so visible that people who don’t even know us can see it between us. We are constantly being approached by both friends and strangers who tell us that our relationship is an encouragement and a blessing to them. I praise God for that, because He is the only one who could create such a bond between us. He’s given us wisdom in how to interact with one another in ways that will nurture that friendship so it is constantly thriving.
So although two years is barely a blink of an eye in the grand scheme of things, here is a list of what He has taught us about how to be the best of friends. If you don’t take me seriously now, come back in ten years and I’ll tell you if it’s still working.
Yes, everyone says communication is key in marriage and they say it because it’s true! Just make sure you communicate properly: express feelings right up front rather than letting them fester; approach your spouse in humility and love; and don’t worry that needing to talk about something will make you look bad. It’ll come out eventually one way or another, so you might as well let it be in the healthiest way possible. Communication=trust and trust is essential to any friendship.
I know, this is basic. Of course you love who you’re married to; if you didn’t you wouldn’t be married to them, right? In a way this is true; a look at the divorce rate could tell you that. But I’m not talking about love, the fuzzy feeling. I’m talking about true, real Love. True, real Love is serving and caring for someone else above yourself. You can still Love your spouse even if you’re not feeling very loving–no matter what. If you actively sow Love, you will reap it as well. And the great thing is, when you are Loving someone in action the feeling tends to follow. Love one another and your affection and friendship will abound.
Don’t deny you have a silly side. I have yet to meet a person without one. Marriage is the best place to be totally yourself around another person; silliness, weirdness and all. Do you like to do impersonations in the mirror? Great! share it with your spouse. Do you like to sing in a chipmunks voice whilst in the shower? Awesome! give your loved one a little preview. He/she might think you’re a complete tool, but I guarantee you’ll get a laugh eventually. Laughing is evidence of having fun and a result of being comfortable together,so let the laughter spill out. After all, have you ever met a pair of best friends who didn’t thoroughly enjoy one another?
4. Seek and Serve the Lord
Here’s where I deviate from the “one word” theme. I was going to put “pray,” but it’s just not enough. Prayer is very important, but only offering up half-hearted pleas when things get rough is where a lot of folks go wrong. As a couple you should be actively seeking and serving God and glorifying him through your marriage. This is the most important thing in a relationship! He is what binds you together and the one who gives you the strength to stay faithful, Love truly, and trust deeply. Walk together with Him.
So many husbands and wives foolishly put other things ahead of their spouses. Work, friends, kids, money,etc. My husband said something that made me love him even more the other day, and that was, “There’s no cost too great if it comes to saving our marriage.” Essentially, if you have to give something up to protect your relationship with your spouse, you do that. Usually these things are temporary and/or unnecessary. When everything is in order and your spouse takes his/her proper place in your life, the two of you will certainly grow closer.
6. Find Common Interests
Let’s face it: opposites attract, but they usually don’t last. Don’t get me wrong; my husband and I have fairly different personalities, and that helps each of us grow. But we share a lot of interests. You have to have some common ground with your spouse or you’ll eventually get bored out of your mind. This is another part of having fun, an essential of friendship. If you and your husband/wife don’t seem to have anything in common, go “activity shopping” and try on different things until you find something that fits both of you. When you consistently do fun activities together, you’ll enjoy one another more and more!
I’m sure you’ve heard that money is the #1 thing that people fight about. Well, this eliminates that problem! Decide together how you are going to spend your money and then stick to it. Budgeting saves cash and prompts you to do the first thing on this list: communicate. If you communicate about how you spend, there’s no reason to fight over money. Less fighting=more fun=better friends. (Jordan and I use Dave Ramsey’s Gazelle Budget Lite and the envelope system as simple ways to keep our finances on track)
You usually don’t stick around people who tear you down and are unsupportive of you, right? So why do so many people tear down and not support their spouses? Everyone needs building up once in a while. As a husband/wife, you need to be your spouse’s biggest fan! He/she needs to feel completely comfortable coming to you with any dreams, talents, work, whatever. He/she needs to know that you will cheer him/her on no matter what. If your spouse doesn’t feel okay coming to you, either there is an insecurity issue or you haven’t been a very good friend in the past. Resolve to be supportive and you will be a much better friend from this moment on.
9. Set goals
Actively working towards a goal is so healthy for a relationship. It’s kind of like having common interests, but this time there’s a finish line. That finish line inspires you to really work together and strengthens your relationship as you try to reach it. You will find yourselves leaning on one another, sharing ideas on how to achieve what you hope for, and making plans for what you’ll do when you finally reach your goal. Dreaming together is one of the sweetest parts of a marriage and as you travel through highs and lows on the way to your destination, you’ll find yourselves becoming even closer companions.
10. Don’t Neglect the Marriage Bed
I know things get busy. I know kids happen, work happens, being tired happens, LIFE happens. But intimacy is one thing that often doesn’t happen when it should. When we were first married Jordan and I read a book, Pure Sex by Ed Young. It had some really great ideas in it, one of which we have especially tried to apply: don’t say no. If your spouse is feeling amorous and you’re feeling lazy/tired/not in the mood, don’t automatically say no. Just give yourselves a few minutes. 9.99999 times out of 10, you will find yourself on the same page and you’ll be glad you agreed. However, if you say no enough, your spouse may very well stop trying and then one day you’ll both be sitting there thinking, “He/she must not find me attractive because he/she never wants to be intimate.” Don’t let it happen to you! Sex between a married couple deepens the unique and intimate bond they share and it affects every other part of the relationship. The intimacy created during marital sex overflows into both emotional and spiritual intimacy. If you really want to be best friends with your spouse, please don’t neglect the marriage bed!
I have so many other things I could say; simple things like “have dinner together, spend time with other married couples, don’t go to bed angry, go to bed at the same time, etc., etc., etc.” But these listed I think are the top ten. They really do work, so I genuinely hope that if you’re not putting them into practice already, you begin doing so and see your relationship flourish.
What’s something not listed you do to maintain your friendship with your spouse? I would love to see any suggestions and perhaps start implementing them in this ever-growing thing called my marriage. Feel free to share!
In Love and Christ,