5 Ways to Cultivate Friendship in Your Marriage
Song of Songs 5:16 (NIV)
This is my beloved, this is my friend.
There isn’t another person on the face of the earth that I would rather spend time with than my wife. I’ve turned down invites to ball games, guy weekends, hunting trips and rounds on the golf course, all for one reason – HER! Now, those things are important; I do take trips and spend time with my boys. We need men of faith to surround us and hold us accountable. But I’ve definitely heard it all:
You’re whipped! She controls you. You’d go if she would let you.
No, I just like her better than you!
Dr. John M. Gottman, author of The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work, reported in his book the determining factor of BOTH husbands and wives as to whether they feel satisfied with sex, romance, and passion in their marriage is, by 70%, the quality of the couple’s FRIENDSHIP. Finally men and women agree on something!
Unfortunately this key ingredient is missing from many marriages and a lot of people fill that void with an adulterous relationship, whether physical or emotional. Physical adultery you’ve heard of, but “emotional adultery” is having someone of the opposite sex, who isn’t your spouse, as your closest friend. If you are confiding in someone of the opposite sex about things of which you will not even share with your spouse, you are compromising your wedding vow.
However, when FRIENDSHIP is a PRIORITY in your marriage, you have someone to share your heart with and you can truly honor God with your marriage. A thriving marital friendship leaves no room for the loneliness and no emotional void that lead to adultery in any form.
No one can take my wife’s place. She is my BEST FRIEND! She sees me at my worst – and loves me the MOST! She is my beloved, she is my friend! Here’s five ways you can cultivate friendship in your marriage as well:
1. Make Jesus the highest priority in your home.
Your marriage, like everything else, exists to glorify God and serve His kingdom. Read your Bible together. Pray to together. Talk about what God is doing in your family. Don’t be afraid to talk about spiritual things with your spouse.
“That’s just too uncomfortable.” Then you aren’t doing those things enough.
2. Give your love freely and unconditionally.
I’ve often heard people say, “I fell in love”. Well, if you can “fall in love” that implies you can “fall out of love”. It also gives the implication that you have no choice in the matter. I’ll be honest, I didn’t “fall in love” with Mary Ann. She captured my heart and I chose to love her. Every day of my life, I still choose to love her.
Mark Driscoll writes, “In the Bible love is often a feeling. But rather than being a feeling that promotes action, it is often first an action based on obedience to God that results in a feeling for our spouses.” This explains why the Bible commands husbands to love their wives and wives to love their husbands. It doesn’t say to FEEL LOVE…it says to GIVE LOVE. Giving love is an action that leads to a feeling.
3. Talk to your spouse!
If I sent you on an assignment…a dinner date with your spouse…and gave you some rules, could you follow them? If I said, “I want you to talk to your spouse over dinner, but you can’t talk about work, the kids, finances, sports or politics.” Could you do it? What would you be able to talk about?
Can you talk through challenges and patiently listen to your spouse?
Can you pray together and/or build life-long memories?
Can you be generous with compliments or encouragement?
4. Have fun with your spouse!
Do you remember the things you did to win your spouse’s affection? Why did you stop? Just because you won their affection doesn’t mean you should stop trying to keep it!
Every night, we put the kids to bed and the rest of the evening is ours to spend together. We may take long walks, read, watch movies or just talk. Regardless of what we do, we do it together. It’s our time, and it’s the best time of my day!
5. Count on one another.
I believe that marriage can make you happy. I also believe it can make you holy. I’m flawed. I’m a sinner. I need the loving grace and mercy of my Savior. But I also need grace and mercy from my wife. As flawed people, God sometimes sends us others to pull us out of our mess! Who better to do that than my spouse?
Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 (NIV)
Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.
At the end of the day, my friendship with my wife brings us closer to God and to each other. At times we fail. And sometimes we mess up. But we always learn and we continue to grow – TOGETHER!