Soulmates. Lovers. Friends. Partners. Companions. Roommates. Co-parents, co-bill-payers, co-everything.
It’s a lot to ask of a marriage. And on your wedding day, you
probably only thought about the first two titles. They are the reason
you married your husband. You wanted to spend all your time with him,
and it didn’t matter what you were doing, so long as you were doing it
Enter life. The need to talk about everything you think
and for your husband to listen. Somewhere along the way, you discovered
that in order to be together, you had to put up with things you didn’t
Marriage is changing both of
you. You’ve learned to compromise and take turns having your own way.
But you’re starting to notice that all those little sacrifices—all those
activities you’re giving up for the sake of peace—aren’t drawing you
into a more intimate relationship; they are drawing up battle lines. You
have lost yourself, and the replacement wife is not pretty.
friendship in your marriage, you will begin forming a new identity:
either a resentful spouse who gives in or a controlling spouse who
doesn’t. Or, you opt for becoming a marriage partner, with the freedom
to do what you want by taking relatively separate journeys through life.
It makes for less confrontation, less arguing, but more loneliness in
your marriage (definitely not the path to deeper friendship).
secret you’re hoping to find is how to become your husband’s best
friend without losing your identity, and without him losing his. After
all, you chose each other because you loved what you saw. You’re
wondering what kind of companion you’d have to be to make your husband
happy, without making you miserable. Is it even possible?
Take a look at this “friend” criteria of what men look for in each other (not their wives), when they hang out:
- New challenges
- Frank conversation
- No expectations
Not what you’re interested in?
The modern marriage paradigm has a
solution to this problem: Take turns with everything. Set up a rotation
for doing chores, choosing activities, enjoying guys’ night and girls’
nights, taking care of the kids. Just split everything 50/50. Then
everyone’s happy and everything’s fair.
While the sharing of
duties is necessary, please consider that the modern paradigm of
fairness in marriage is not scriptural, and it will likely endanger your
relationship. Ephesians 5:25 and 33 say, “Husbands love your wives as
Christ loved the church” (no equal split in that relationship — this
love gives until it hurts), and “the wife must respect her husband.” (no
criteria for respect, just a command to swallow your know-it-all
attitude). God knew what challenges married couples would face, so He
told us straight up: Put the other person’s needs first. That’s
But isn’t that how you lose yourself?
No, that’s how you love a soul-mate. It’s how you make a best friend for life.
of both of you giving 50 percent and hoping the other person will come
through, you can both give 100 percent, believing that the other person
is worth the effort. When both partners value each other first, both end
up being satisfied, with all their needs met.
As both of you
feel loved unconditionally, you will prefer being together over being
apart. Your marriage will become the one place where you feel completely
known and completely safe.
After years of marriage counseling,
we’ve seen the proof to back up Paul’s commands in Ephesians. Marriages
centered on the fairness principle of 50/50 don’t last. Unless something
changes, this selfish paradigm, which values protecting one’s own
rights more than elevating your partner’s, leads to a 50/50 divorce
settlement or at best, an unfulfilling and lonely marriage.
your wedding day, you were all about “becoming one,” so I’m betting that
dividing up everything equally is a far cry from what you hoped for
when you said, “I do.”
How is this fixable?
This collision course toward alienating your husband in an attempt to
maintain your personality? What if you don’t like the same things? Do
you have to fake it? How can you become your husband’s best friend and
maintain the “oneness” objective?
In a recent poll, I asked
husbands “For those of you whose wives are your best friends, what makes
her your best friend?” Their responses might surprise you:
- She understands me.
- I have no secrets with her/I am completely myself with her.
- We love spending time together—it doesn’t matter what we’re doing
- She gives me unconditional love and respect.
- We have the same goals.
- She is easy to talk to/she listens to me.
- She believes in me/she encourages and supports me
- She has my back — she is on my side.
- She makes me a better person/she helps me be the best version of myself.
- She prioritizes her time to be with me.
Emerson Eggerichs, who wrote Love and Respect for a Lifetime wrote,
“Your husband needs you to love him, but he also needs you to like him
as a friend.” So how do you decide to like someone who leaves all the
cabinet doors open and squeezes the toothpaste from the middle?
You overlook it. You focus on the parts you love. (Isn’t that what you did when you were dating?)
you’re reading this and thinking, I’ve been married too long to date my
husband. I’ve got kids, for crying out loud. We’re running their
schedules. I don’t have time to fall in love with my husband again.
you want to. You may have suppressed your disappointment with your
marriage, but you still crave the connection. It’s why you got married.
(So it’s not too late.)
Friendship with your husband does not
follow the same rules as friendship with someone else. If you look again
at the husbands’ list about their wives, you will notice a common
thread: vulnerability. Your husband doesn’t need roommate or a sports
buddy. He needs a guardian for his soul. He longs for someone (and he
wants it to be you) who cheers when he cheers and cries when he cries
and laughs when he laughs. That’s what close friends do. It’s what close
married people do.
Here are some suggestions to build trust with your husband, which in turn, will earn his friendship:
- Don’t criticize (it makes you his enemy)
- Don’t nag (it makes you his mother)
- Don’t interrogate (it makes you his boss)
- Seek to understand his concerns (it makes you his confidante)
- Defend and praise him (it makes you his ally)
- Generously give him time, attention, and trust (it makes you his inspiration)
- Work hard, without complaining (it makes you his hero)
- Be interested in what interests him (it makes you his friend)
What identity do you really want as a married woman? I want to be loved
and cherished by my husband, with the freedom and encouragement to be
myself because I’ve let my husband be himself — not because I have
I remember one evening, years ago. My husband hadn’t
spent time with his friends for quite awhile, so I encouraged him to
join them on a “guys night,” even though we’d had a busy couple of
weeks. By 8:00, he was walking back into the house. (I’m not tattling,
but he might have had a chick flick in his hand.)
“You’re home early,” I said.
He smiled sheepishly. “It was fun, but I had to say, ‘I’m sorry, guys. I’ve got to get home.’”
“Really? How’d that go over?” I was surprised.
He shrugged, smiling. “They said, ‘Wow, she’s got you whipped.’”
“What did you say?”
He laughed. “I said, ‘Nope, I just miss my wife, and I’m going home’.”
That’s intimate friendship and a whole lot more!
[written by Sue Schlesman]