Table of contents:
- Friendship in marriage
- Attributes of great friendship in marriage
- How to build friendship in marriage.
Friendship is so priceless! Do you ever get tired of your friends? Haha.. definitely not me! Lol
Marriage is a sacred union between two individuals who have committed to building a life together. It can be a source of great joy, togetherness, and fulfilment, yet it is not without its unique challenges. As with any relationship, marriage requires hard work and dedication to make it last, and only those who are determined to put in the work will reap the fruits of a great marriage.
No doubt, many ingredients make great marriages but one often overlooked one is Friendship. I know friendship in marriage is now becoming a “cliche” with many new couples making statements like “I married my best friend“, only to hear of a separation a few months or years into their marriage. Nobody ever desires this experience, but it happens. Which is why I always advocate that couples give keen interest in intentionally preserving that one ingredient called friendship in marriage.
Friendship in marriage.
Friendship according to Wikipedia is a relationship of mutual affection between people, and some of the attributes of great friendships are trust, honesty, loyalty, love etc. Many great friends quickly become husband and wife after enjoying a relationship that was full of bliss and respect for each other. However, once settled into the roles of wife and husband, some get so distracted with other aspects of life thus failing to nurture their relationship to grow. This is how many marriages begin to fall apart. The uniqueness, attraction, and fondness for some couples get replaced by stress, parenting, lack of commitment, cold tolerance, zero enthusiasm and little or no emotional attraction to each other.
Why does this happen?
It was also of huge concern to me in the past, until I began to study about what makes couples go from so in love to strangers.
In my experience as a Relationship Coach & Marriage Therapist, I have come to realise that firstly, many people never marry their friends, while some others cease being friends shortly after they become husband and wife. There is this belief that the “office” of a spouse is higher than the “office” of a friend. Therefore, they drop the supposed lesser office to step into the higher one.
Did you make this mistake or do you belong to the category of those who never married their friend?
Here is the fact! Great relationships between opposite sexes may have led to marriage, but the commitment to remain friends after marriage must be resolute because if you are not careful, the demands of marriage in itself could squeeze out the friendship between you and your Spouse. This is because the moment two love birds choose to become one, they automatically sign up for a sacrificial life larger than each of them as individuals. All these are not for the faint of heart and too many people become dropouts in this regard. It gets that bad because marriage comes with such a heavy responsibility and the moment one spouse begins to falter consequentially, it begins to affect the marriage and may lead to the end of that marriage if not addressed as appropriate.
With all I have addressed above, it is clear that one powerful ingredient to keep your marriage thriving and brimming with the possibilities of more glorious times ahead is Friendship.
True friendship is not the random coming together of two people who are classmates, colleagues, or neighbours. It involves sharing strong similar interests, values, and opinions about life. It involves being vulnerable and having that confidence that you have each other’s back. There is every possibility that you are both different in character but the tenets of your core values and beliefs should be the same if your marriage must progress forward.
I strongly believe that healthy marriages are a union of 2 (two) people who came together as husband and wife after they had passed the various tests of friendship, one of which is alignment in their values. Your core values must be in alignment, or else your marital relationship would be headed for the rocks. Remember this popular scripture that says:
Can two work together except they agree?
You can’t go too far when you and your spouse are going separate ways.
If the core life values that binds your union are aligned, then your friendship journey in the marriage is strengthened.
Attributes of great friendship in marriage:
- Mutual understanding: Think about it for a second.- One of the causes of conflict in marriage is lack of understanding. Thus, being conscious about understanding your spouse is a sign that your marriage is on a healthy path. Being able to love and accept each other must always be your priority in your marriage. Just like great friendships, friends talk about life to each other without guilt and fear because though they are friends, they understand each other and do not feel any sense of possession towards each other. However, in marriage, there’s a sense of spouse possession that some couples exhibit that makes them expect perfection from their partners, thereby causing their partners to hide in the cocoon of the “office” of a spouse. This will eventually lead to boredom, friction, and a cold marriage. You must bring yourself to that state where you give your spouse the permission to be themselves in marriage without fear of being misunderstood or misjudged. Surrender your desire to control your spouse and allow trust lead. Allow your spouse to be their unique selves, love them for who they are, and continue to be friends even after marriage. This is not to say you have endorsed their bad behaviour, rather it makes it easier for you to express your displeasure in areas where you need them to amend their ways.
2. Acceptance: True friends know each other’s weaknesses and secrets, yet they choose to stick to the positives in each other’s lives. This should be your goal in marriage. Choosing to accept your spouse over seeking for them to be perfect is a healthy attitude as no one is perfect, two can be perfect together when they choose their combined strengths over their weaknesses. What does this look like in practical terms: For example, I always tell couples to never allow the mirage of perfection to bring division into their union. There’s nothing as beautiful as knowing your husband’s weakness and being his strength in that area. There’s nothing as good as knowing your wife’s weaknesses and loving her, accepting her, and being her strength in that area. After all what is marriage really about? Supporting each other and partnering with each other for a better life right? My room mate’s closest friend in the university was so opposite to her in character. Her friend was very loud, outspoken, and extroverted while my room mate on the other hand, was quiet and highly introverted. They loved each other that way, often stood up for each other where one was weak. it was beautiful to see and they complimented each other in the most sweetest ways ever.
3. Loyalty and trust: Loyalty is a powerful force that makes friendship beautiful and worthwhile . I am a huge advocate of being loyal in relationships and this was one of the factors that initiated several unusual promotions in my career and other aspects of my life. In my opinion, couples should ensure that they always have each other’s back. You must never be so neck deep in your “office” as a spouse that you forget that you should be a loyalist to your spouse. You must also focus on building trust in one another.
4. Effective Communication: This helps a couple to express their thoughts and feelings. It is a skill that can be learned. The ability to listen to your spouse and understand their points of view is crucial. Couples also have to learn to remain respectful while expressing their thoughts at all times, especially when having hard conversations.
How to build friendship in marriage:
Just like any relationship, the friendship requires effort to maintain and nurture. There are several practical ways that couples can work to develop and strengthen their bond of friendship.
- Intentional date nights: Deliberately making time for your spouse can be the force that transforms your marriage. This could mean setting aside time every week to do something together, such as going on a date or taking a walk. It is also important to schedule these in your calendar and prfioritize such appointments like you will do with your business meetings. Keep your phones aside and listen to each other’s plans, dreams and general ideas about life. Taking time to express love and gratitude during moments like these creates a strong foundation of friendship. Isn’t this what friends do? Would you not want this for your marriage?
- Shared interest: Even if you and your Spouse are different, having shared activities you both engage in from time to time is very relevant to the success of your union as a couple. Find activities that are enjoyable for both of you and engage in them taking turns one after the other. This could include anything from playing board games to going to the movies, swimming, riding bicycle, puzzles, indoor dance games etc. Doing fun things together helps to strengthen the bond between you and your spouse and allows you to connect on a deeper level. this weekend, try cooking together, or dancing together. These are usually really fun and the good part is you get to create long lasting memories of each other.
- Vulnerability : Being open with your spouse means being willing to share your thoughts, feelings, and fears with them, even when it’s difficult or uncomfortable. It requires you to be honest and transparent even though this could be scary at times, but ultimately it strengthens the bond between you and your Spouse. Without openness in marriage, it will be difficult to build the kind of friendship that promotes a strong marriage. It is important to remain open and vulnerable to each other so that you can remain intimate with each other without fear of judgment or criticism. Your ability to kick shame in the face and open up on your realities sets the right foundation that can harbour a beautiful, healthy and passionate relationship between you and your spouse. Vulnerability between couples creates a safe and secure environment in which couples can respect each other’s opinions and beliefs. Marriage is not the place to prove a point, you may pretend to others but you can’t fake it for too long for your Spouse.
- Negotiation and Sacrifice: At some point in your marriage, you will have to negotiate or sacrifice for the good of your marriage. While negotiation involves finding common ground, and working together to reach a mutually beneficial solution, sacrifice involves a level of selflessness and a willingness to put the needs of your spouse and your marriage above your own. For either to happen, you must be willing to hear each other out and carefully listen to your Spouse’s perspective so that you can both find a compromise that both parties can agree upon. Sometimes, one person may have to defer to the other person’s opinion and this is where sacrifice comes in. Ultimately, the good and goal of the marriage must be borne in mind while these conversations takes place. The truth is that no matter how strong the bond of your friendship with your Spouse is, there will always be little disagreements and conflicts of interest here and there. knowing this positions you to engage disagreement with a positive mindset rather with a defensive attitude. If you and your spouse have an agreement that the goal is never to be right but to both move in the right direction, you’ll be willing to negotiate/sacrifice, and learn from each other’s mistakes as the need arises.
5. Forgiveness: Newsflash! You and your spouse will step on each other’s toes from time to time, so be willing to let go of offences. I wasn’t well prepared for this so I didn’t handle it well in the early years of marriage, thankfully I know better now. Choosing to respond rather than react is very important for your union. Don’t allow your emotions give you a meaning that disempowers you, it is important to note that you have the power to decide your meanings per time and it is your responsibility to always choose an empowering meaning while acknowledging your feelings and navigating through them. Forgiveness is a necessary skill that will help you process your emotions better. It relieves you of hurt and pain and gives you a clear mind to process the cause of your hurt. Choosing not to forgive will only keep you in bondage while it sets your Spouse free, please never be unfair to yourself this way. Choose to forgive and seek help if this is an area you find yourself struggling with.
It doesn’t matter much if you were friends with your spouse before you got married or if your friendship with your spouse is no longer solid. You can always start from where you today, by intentionally implementing the above steps from the present season of your marriage. I know that for some people, marriage seems like a lot of work but you must understand that marriage is an open slate. You only reap what you have invested in it. So take the bold step, work on your mind and make as move to start being interested in what your Spouse loves.
You want to do marriage with someone who makes the journey worthwhile, right? Then you can achieve this if you choose to be a great friend to your spouse.
From my experience with clients, many couples stay unhappy for too long before taking the right step into bliss. That’s why I’m here for you. If you struggle to achieve this on your own, don’t hesitate to book a one-on-one session with me. I’m committed to helping you build your dream marriage. Send me an email via email@example.com or a private message HERE.
If you read up till this spot, well-done! You are one of the few intentional spouses who understand that learning never stops. Now, what will you do differently?
Tell me in the comments and share this blog with someone in your circle.