One of the most crucial traits of a successful, healthy marriage is true friendship between husband and wife. The romantic aspects of a relationship need to be built upon a base of friendship. How do you become best friends with your spouse?
I believe there are seven foundations of friendship in marriage.
Be faithful. According to Proverbs 17:17, “a friend loves at all times, but a brother is born for adversity.” In other words, the strongest friendships are cemented during hard times. Deep friendships are forged during times of adversity in a marriage. That’s when you pay the closest attention and learn to trust.
Believe in each other. One of the reasons God created marriage is to help spouses bring each other to their full potential. For instance, a husband provides a nurturing, protective environment for his wife. Similarly, a wife establishes an atmosphere of praise and respect for her husband.
Men and women will flourish in these environments. Two people who believe in each other will both become the best versions of themselves.
Embrace your differences. In a normal marriage, the husband and wife are not carbon copies of each other. In fact, they are probably opposites in many ways. Will you rejoice in your differences or criticize them?
Instead of forcing your spouse to become more like you, celebrate the ways the two of you are compatible. Identify where one’s strengths match up to another’s weaknesses, then thank God for those differences.
Be real and transparent. Friendship means being honest. Share your heart with your spouse. Talk about opinions, hopes and dreams. Let your spouse into your world. Most importantly, allow your spouse to be real and transparent, too.
Be a refuge. As described above, transparency is impossible if one spouse feels unsafe opening up to the other. That’s why a husband and wife must be each other’s safe place. When anything good or bad happens in their lives, they go to each other first. This requires listening, openness, and a nonjudgmental spirit.
Be fun and creative. Having fun together in marriage dramatically improves a relationship. In fact, one of the danger signs for divorce is when a husband and wife no longer enjoy each other’s company. When was the last time you laughed together? When was the last time you pursued a hobby together?
Plan dates. Play games. Flirt and tease. Romance each other like when you were first dating. Work hard at having fun.
Bear each other’s burdens. If “a brother is born for adversity,” then friends step up when it’s time to serve one another. That might mean physically helping or it might mean supporting a spouse emotionally. Get into the habit of checking in with your spouse. Ask How are you? or What do you need?
Never step back and watch your spouse suffer without stepping in to help. You’re friends, and that’s what friends do.
When a marriage struggles, it’s often because a husband and wife have lost focus. They’ve poured their energy into work or into their kids and they’ve forgotten that they are supposed to be best friends. Re-establish your friendship and a more successful marriage will follow.