It sounds perfect. Not only is your husband or wife your husband or wife, but they’re also your best friend. For those couples that can claim this as part of their marital bliss, they really have the best of both worlds. But not all couples are best friends. Nor do they have to be.
That’s a lot of pressure
One of the things that let me know my wife was “the one” is that she never pressured me to tell her we were best friends. My wife knew when she met me that I had formed many close friendships before I met her from my past experiences in school, college, and the military. I have a group of brothers that will be my best of friends to the day I leave this earth. This is one of the things my wife likes about me.
For many couples the aspect of friendship becomes a point of contention in a relationship. When did this happen? More than likely the fact that marriages and relationships have become more equal partnerships in the last 40 plus years might have something to do with it. (Read more about what I have to say about that in a previous post. “The lack of vulnerability in men and how we’re playing catch up with women”)
One or both of the partners may want the whole package. Romance, intimacy, friendship. When one of the partners enters into a relationship already having close friends, they can feel a ton of pressure to be a “best friend” to their romantic partner.
The path of friendship
Establishing friends for many people is not a casual happening. Length of time knowing someone, experiencing life events, hardships together, forming bonding experiences. All of these can play a significant factor in how we chose our friends. Some people are extremely loyal to their friends and form lasting bonds with those people that last a lifetime. They take friendship seriously.
- If your partner is one of these loyal and choosy people, be grateful that they are letting you into their lives.
- Focusing on their virtues of loyalty as a person can remind you that you’ve chosen a solid mate. Don’t let their existing friendships with others get in the way of what you and your partner have.
- Chances are when you marry a loyal person, your friendship with them will grow and strengthen over time. That’s a good thing.
Marriage is different than friendship
You have something with your spouse that they will never have with their friends. Complete intimacy. Physical and emotional intimacy. Your spouse does not have this with their friends. They have this with you.
Friendship is different than marriage. Here’s why.
- Close friends have an unconditional relationship
- Marriages are conditional whether you want to recognize it or not
- Close friendships do not contain the sacrifices and personal learning experiences that marriage can bring into your life
Marriage comes with everything. The good and the bad. Being intimate with your partner means you are vulnerable with them in ways you cannot be with your friends. You share aspects of yourself in marriage that friendship cannot duplicate.
In marriage you experience with your spouse
- Raising children together
- Taking care of one another in trying times
- Death in the family
- Birth of a child
- Family crisis
- Financial hardship
Marriage is much more than friendship and it will present challenges for both relational and personal that only marriage can do.
A wise person once said, “Marriage is a sacred laboratory of personal growth and exploration, if the couple allows it.” This is complete intimacy and it transcends friendship.
If anything, you should encourage your spouse to have close friends outside your marriage. As long as your partner is not withholding from you, their close friendships with other people allow them to stay grounded in who they are. Remember the person you married was a separate person before you met them. They have lived an entire life shaping who they are as a person and this includes close friendships that they have formed outside of their relationship with you.
Spouses with close friends don’t have to feel a burden to be everything to their partner. Feel frustrated that you can’t always understand your wife? Be glad they have a good friend that can give them what they need in the form of support that only a friend can give. Congratulations! You’ve probably married a healthy and grounded person who can maintain strong relationships. Chances are this means your marriage is relatively strong and grounded too.
Do you really want to know EVERYTHING about your spouse?
The fact is your husband or wife’s friends know just about everything about them. You don’t. And you shouldn’t. Possessing the need to know everything about your spouse doesn’t increase intimacy, it kills it. It can be the seed of jealousy and trust issues. Leave well enough alone. Be the husband or wife your spouse married. Also know you don’t have to be everything. Nor should you.
If you are married to your best friend then be grateful! You have found a partner that is complete in ways that probably only one person in this world can be. If you are in a serious relationship, or are married, and feel that a “best friend” status is lacking with your partner, don’t be discouraged. There’s nothing wrong with this. Exploring your relationship for what it is and what it can be, regardless of your friendship with your spouse, can bring you a closeness with the person you love in ways no other relationship can deliver. And that’s a good thing!