Friendship is the foundation of any healthy relationship. Before anything romantic occurs, friendship needs to be present. Friendship means you like being together—you would prefer to be with your spouse above anyone else.
I believe there are seven steps to becoming best friends with your spouse:
- Be faithful. During hard times, a friendship will either be lost altogether or will come out stronger. There was a point during the darkest days of our marriage where Karen and I weren’t friends anymore. That’s when God showed me I needed to be more faithful to my friend.
- Believe in each other. One of the reasons God created marriage is to bring husbands and wives to their full potential. You’ll never be close friends with someone who doesn’t believe in you.
As spouses, we have to foster an environment where our husband or wife can thrive. God created your spouse for something special, and your job is to help cultivate whatever that is.
- Embrace each other’s differences. How many friends do you have who criticize you all the time or reject the ways you are different? Friends who don’t seem to like who you are can hardly be described as friends.
God created us to complete each other. He made us compatible. Compatibility is based on character and values, not on being identical to each other. You and your spouse may be very different. Instead of rejecting your differences, celebrate them!
- Be real and transparent. Honesty is crucial to friendship. Does your spouse know your heart? Does he or she know what you’re thinking, what you love, what you believe? If not, it’s time to let them into your world. Isolating yourself from your spouse makes intimacy impossible.
- Be a safe place. Who do you call when something great happens? Who do you go to first when something terrible happens? You go to the person you trust the most. As a married couple, you need to be each other’s refuge—the place each of you go to celebrate good news or find strength to face bad news.
- Be fun and creative. The strongest marriages I’ve seen are the ones where a husband and wife still have fun together. If this ever stops—if a couple no longer enjoys each other’s company—then hard times are likely in store. If one of you enjoys golf, then play golf together. Whatever it is, do it together.
- Bear each other’s burdens. If you’ve ever tried to carry a couch by yourself, you know how important it is to have someone share the load. Galatians 6:2 says “Bear one another’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ.” That is what friends do. Offer to help. Be a support. Never sit back while your spouse deals with hardship.
You need to be friends with your spouse. If friendship didn’t develop early in your relationship, there’s still time to cultivate it. Decide “We’re going to be friends again,” then work at it.