Are you best friends with your spouse? I hope so. The friendship factor in marriage is huge. It’s one of the biggest things that differentiates a healthy marriage from living together as roommates. If you’re not friends with your spouse, marriage can deteriorate into a convenient financial arrangement, “just sex” (or not), or “living with the enemy.”
A strong friendship in marriage doesn’t just happen. Life naturally pulls you apart; kids, career, health issues, financial stress, etc. The only way to remain friends is to intentionally invest in being friends.
Look at elderly couples who have been successfully married for decades. They become able to know what the other is thinking. They can finish each other’s sentences. Often they even begin to look alike. That isn’t because they experienced no problems; it’s the result of deep friendship invested in over time.
Here are three important ingredients to being best friends with your spouse.
If you process things verbally this seems like “duh!” Conversely, if you don’t naturally talk much this may seem like an impossible task. And if talking in the past has led to conflict and fighting, you may shy away from trying to communicate completely.
But if you want to be friends, you’ll have to talk. That’s what friends do.
Over 70% of married people, when we asked them, identified communication as a significant problem in their marriage. It takes intentional effort to do this well. You learned patterns of communication from your family of origin, and it takes real work to learn to do things in a healthier way.
Depending on your personality and your past communication patterns, you may need to learn to find your own voice, to listen well, or to have hard conversations. In a healthy marriage communication is varied – deep and shallow, short and long, easy and difficult, planned and spontaneous, about each other and about things beyond your relationship, about current things and about the future, etc.
Don’t accept broken communication. If you’re a talker, learn the art of drawing your partner out by listening well and asking follow-up questions. If you’re not a talker, do the hard work in your soul to stay engaged and talk even when it is difficult or uncomfortable. One thing worth talking about is what you want for the future of your marriage.
Have you taken our Communication Personality Style Assessment? It might provide some enlightenment on the communication dynamics in your marriage.
Do Things Together
Friends don’t only talk; they also do things together.
Some people, especially men, connect better while engaging in an activity side-by-side than when trying to talk face-to-face. Doing things together is part of friendship.
Early in your relationship this probably seemed easy; later on it may seem much harder. Each of you may have become interested in your own world and activities. This is one reason many couples reach the “empty nest” season and find themselves strangers to each other.
Date nights, while a modern phenomenon, address some of this need. Some date nights can be about talking, but some should be doing something fun or active together. But date night doesn’t have to be the only form this takes.
Sometimes this might look like doing a home project together, shopping or some other errand you might normally do “alone,” volunteering together, or something similar. The point is you are doing something together, in the same space at the same time, each putting effort toward the same goal or activity.
Not every activity needs to be done together. You each do need time alone, and you need friends outside the marriage. But for you to be friends with your spouse, shared activities are critical. You may need to get out of your comfort zone and enter your spouse’s world, and invite him/her into your world, in order to find activities you can share together.
This list of things to do together might provide some ideas.
Commit to Stay
Yes, some marriages are toxic. But If you and your spouse are basically people of good will, committing to staying makes friendship possible.
Friends don’t have to agree on everything. Friends remain engaged even when they differ. You and your spouse consistently give each other grace, learn to forgive, and work toward solutions. It’s not about who’s right; it’s about what’s best for the relationship.
That takes staying on your knees – individually and together. God is the only glue that can hold two sinners together.
It also means you work through conflict. You don’t sweep problems “under the rug;” you do the hard work to understand yourselves and each other, find healing where needed, and learn to love each other well – as Christ loves.
Working through conflict can actually bring you closer together. Like teammates winning a championship or a band of soldiers fighting a common enemy, seeing the “problem” as something separate from each of you and addressing it from a side-by-side position will strengthen the bond between you.
Friendship with your spouse is worth investing in. It will pay off more and more as the years go by.
Your Turn: Are you best friends with your spouse? If so, how are you maintaining that friendship? If not, which of these elements can you put effort into now? Leave a comment below.
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- Are you best friends with your spouse? I hope so! A marriage without friendship will deteriorate. Friendship with your spouse requires talking, doing things together, and a commitment to stay. Tweet that.
How’s the Communication Between You?
Whether newlywed or married for decades, communication is the key to the quality of your relationship. But most couples feel their communication is less than what they desire.
Understanding your communication style, and that of your spouse, will allow you to take your communication to the next level.