“Friends look in the same direction”- C. S. Lewis
Think about who you run to, call, or text first whenever something exciting happens in your life. The person who came to mind is probably who you would consider your best friend. You love spending time with this person because they know everything about you, and despite all your quirks, they accept you. Their presence is comforting, and you know you can share anything with them because they are not going to betray your trust.
Every area of your life is more enjoyable when you have a best friend to share it with.
How much better is life if that person is your spouse?
Why your spouse should be your best friend
There have been some significant studies done on what makes a successful marriage. John Gottman, a professor at the University of Washington and author of The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work, carried out a study which showed that having a high-quality friendship as part of your marriage is an important predictor in romantic and physical satisfaction. Ultimately, friendship has a positive effect on a marriage, making it last longer.
Studies also show that the emotional connection between couples is five times more important than physical intimacy in predicting the success of a marriage.
A study by Jeanette and Robert Lauer asked 351 couples who had been married for more than 15 years to identify the leading reasons for their successful marriage. Thinking of their spouse as their best friend was the top reason listed by both men and women.
Developing your friendship with your spouse is essential to creating a caring relationship that will last a lifetime. Being best friends builds your emotional and physical intimacy. It gives you someone to lean on during hard times and someone to cheer for you when things are going your way.
We all look to find this kind of special connection with someone, so if you don’t have a strong friendship within your marriage, your spouse may look elsewhere for that connection. If they find someone else to take that place in their life, it could lead to infidelity.
Biblical friendships and marriages
The Bible does not overlook the importance of friendship. One of my favorite passages is found in Ecclesiastes, and it says:
“Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble. Likewise, two people lying close together can keep each other warm. But how can one be warm alone? A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.” Ecclesiastes 4:9-12
Friends are there to help and support one another. Two people standing together create more than just the sum of their strengths and weaknesses. And when you add God into the equation (the third part in the triple-braided cord), you have a nearly unbreakable bond.
Friendship is a human relationship. A great marriage is a God relationship. When God created marriage back in Genesis, he gave it a spiritual dimension, one that cannot be experienced by simple friendship.
He designed men to need companionship and friendship. That’s why he said, “It is not good for man to be alone,” and created a woman to be his partner. Marriage is a special relationship that cannot be duplicated by anything else we find in the world.
Is your spouse your best friend?
So how do you know if your spouse is your best friend? Ask yourself these questions.
- Do you look forward to spending time together?
- Do you genuinely like each other?
- Have you created a mindset where you don’t let the negative thoughts about your spouse outweigh the positive ones?
- Do you laugh and joke with them more than anyone else?
- Can you relax and have fun together?
- Can you talk to them for hours and not run out of things to say?
- Do you want to bring them along when you hang out with your other friends?
If you answered no to more than one of these questions, you probably wouldn’t give your spouse that “best friend” title. It’s time to change that.
Having your spouse as your best friend gives your marriage an advantage over most. Research shows that it gives your relationship the best chance of surviving throughout the years. It’s something that may require you to shift your mindset.
Try adopting one or more of these mindsets to build the friendship.
- I choose to assume the best about my spouse.
- I will acknowledge my spouse’s perspective, even when I disagree with them.
- When my spouse hurts, I hurt. I feel empathy for them.
- I trust my spouse.
- I respect my spouse.
- I will keep my partner’s trust by prioritizing my commitment to them above all others.
Make friendship happen
It’s great to adopt a new mindset, but you have to put action to your words. You can nurture your friendship in many ways.
Spend quality time together. Set a date night on the calendar each week and plan something fun to do together. Take this time without the kids or any of the outside pressures distracting you just to enjoy each other’s company.
Talk and share about your everyday lives. Make a priority of taking time, even if it’s only five minutes, to focus on one another and really listen to what the other person has to say.
Be honest and loyal. Keep your promises to show you are someone worth trusting. Don’t badmouth your spouse in public or disrespect them in private. Don’t side with other people against your mate.
Find common interests. Not sure what you could do together that you would both enjoy? Check out this blog from Sheila Wray Gregoire. Work separately and circle the things you would like to do. Get together and look for common interests and then get busy and go do them.
Dream together. Thinking about your future gives you a vision to work toward together. It gives you something to bond over.
Compliment each other frequently. It’s so easy to notice only the things about your spouse that drive you crazy. Make a point of trying to compliment your significant other at least once a day.
We have a devotional set specifically designed to help you compliment your spouse. Click here to check it out: Come Together Marriage Devotional
Putting hard work into your friendship
Strengthening a friendship in a marriage is well worth the time, but if you haven’t had one of those types of relationships in the past, it won’t be easy. Friendship has to be nurtured and nourished, just like a plant. Plants start out small but grow to many times their size when they get the proper care.
To get started building friendship, find areas from the information above that you know are missing in your marriage. Then make a plan, and be intentional about carrying it out.
Here are a few ideas of steps you can take to nurture your friendship.
Listen to your words when you talk. Does your tone of voice match what you want the sound of your marriage to be? Be careful to use only calm, pleasant (not fake) voices during conversations with your spouse.
Show your spouse the same respect you do to your friends. Maybe more.
Encourage, don’t criticize. When you find yourself ready to say something that will tear your spouse down, try to replace it with something positive or just let it drop.
Accept your spouse’s choices, even when you think they’re making a mistake. Sometimes people need to learn things for themselves. (Obviously, consider the possible outcomes. If this decision has the potential to ruin your family, you have to put up a fuss.)
Try to be a part of your spouse’s hobby. You don’t have to totally immerse yourself in it if you don’t like doing it, but you can listen as they talk about it and perhaps offer to help them out one day.
Don’t be afraid to risk conflict by confronting uncomfortable issues. If you approach your complaints and problems in a calm, rational manner, you may be able to solve problems you never thought could be solved.
Forgive. Don’t hold grudges. This is probably the best way to be a good friend and spouse. No one is perfect, so don’t hold your spouse up to that impossible standard.
- What are some ways you are going to cultivate a great friendship with your spouse this week?
- Do you and your spouse have a sense of purpose for your marriage?
- Are you and your spouse looking in the same direction?
Remember that your romance and intimacy will ebb and flow over the years together. Being best friends, however, can keep the relationship going even during the dry periods.
If you need help getting your friendship back on track, we can help. Check out our marriage coaching packages over on our Services Page.