Couples Talk About Spousal Friendship
Fathers for Good asked some couples about friendship with their spouses.
Nurture, Not Nature
I nurture my friendship with my wife by making time for her, i.e., spending time with her in the evenings, sharing hot tea and reading together or watching TV, or praying, or just chatting about the day’s and week’s events, chatting about the ongoing miracle of our 14-month-old.
It’s not natural for either one of us to make this shared time an absolute priority: it takes commitment, and it’s always (every single time) worth it.
High School Sweethearts
It helps that my wife was my best friend from the beginning. We were high school sweethearts and had a good relationship when we were dating other people as young teenagers.
Needless to say we were best friends for a long time before for we married. All through high school and college, we did our best to respect our dignity as people created by God. That level of chastity, imperfect as it was, grew stronger as our faith grew in marriage.
We were wedded after college graduation. Our commitment to grow closer to Christ together is the foundation of strength in our marriage. Being faithful to Church teaching regarding the procreative and unitive nature of marital love, and in implications this has on how we act out and abstain from our love for each other, is a discipline that allows us to constantly recall the dignity of the other.
I choose daily to never hurt my best friend by reducing her to an object. Friends don’t hurt Friends.
All of Me
In truth, I find it quite inadequate to suggest that my wife is my “best friend.” In my mind, that would be like equating a dentist and a heart surgeon. Although they may both wear a white coat, and one may even make you smile, the heart surgeon keeps your blood pumping, enabling you to live (and smile) another day.
I’m that dependent on her.
If you are asking what I do to nurture that relationship, the answer is a little more complicated.
Her “love language triggers” are words of affirmation, and spending quality time together - but definitely words of affirmation.
It’s not really the flowers she’s interested in, but what’s on the card attached to it. And so, I lay it on – thick.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s not flattery. Every word of praise, love and appreciation are meant sincerely. On this she thrives.
I’m working on creative ways of fanning the flame some more in that regard.
He Says, She Says
Charlie: On the day of our wedding, as we were standing in front of the priest before we professed our vows, the priest asked, “Why are you marrying Lesa?” My first thought was that she was a daughter of God and I grew in my faith because of her.
“Good answer,” he said, “but not what I was looking for. Try again.”
This time I said, “Because she is so beautiful?”
“Another good answer, but still not what I’m searching for.”
The question and answer session went on a few more times in total embarrassment to me as my friends laughed in the background. Finally, the priest said, “You’re marrying Lesa because she is your friend.” It was so obvious and I missed it! We had even used the reading where Jesus calls us “his friends!”
I’ve never forgotten that day and our friendship has grown deeper every day. We’re married 12 years now. Our marriage has had good times: the birth of our four children, our anniversaries, vacations, and our children receiving their sacraments.
There have also been tough times: death of loved ones, death of a dear pet, health problems, disagreements over money, the stresses of work, etc.
However, through it all, our ever-deepening friendship has allowed us to share these moments together and grow closer to God and one another. We nurture our friendship through date nights, evening “tea time,” and sharing in deeper intimacy through natural family planning.
Lesa: It was 12 years ago that my husband, Charlie, and I were married before the “eyes” of God and all present that we loved and admired. I can honestly say that I’ve married my best friend and soulmate, and this act of friendship that Charlie bestows on me allows me the grace to know how it feels to be loved as both lover and friend.
Never in my life until now would I have thought that Scripture taken from Song of Songs could rouse the passions of my lover and spouse. “You have ravished my heart, my sister my bride; you have ravished my heart with one glance of your eyes, with one bead of your necklace. How beautiful is your love, my sister, my bride, how much more delightful is your love than wine, and the fragrance of your ointments than all spices! Your lips drip honey, my bride, sweetmeats and milk are under your tongue; and the fragrance of your garments is the fragrance of Lebanon” (4:8-11).
Through the grace of God, we have discovered what it means to respect one another and love not just as lovers, but as friends. The word “intimacy” comes from the word “intima” meaning “sacred ground,” and it has just dawned on me that the real meaning of marriage is a gift of a true transcendent experience. In other words, intimacy is not just an experience of one-fleshness, but also an experience of transcendence.
Charlie and I have been able to share in an experience of God not only with our bodies, but with our mind, heart and soul, as well. For us, a one-flesh union has become an act of sacred prayer, which is giving not only to one another, but has become an act of self-giving to God.