By Joy Ballard
What kind of old couple do you want to become?
I adore watching elderly couples holding hands and laughing together. The ones who still have a spark even after decades of life have faded physical strength and beauty into a distant memory.
How do we get there? Does it just happen or should we be doing something about it now?
My life experience thus far tells me that nothing “just” happens. Anything worth having usually takes much intentionality.
But intentionality in what exactly?
Friendship in Marriage
Each season in marriage has a leading purpose. First it’s the magnetic attraction of youth and sex. Later, there may be kids to raise and the pursuit of dreams or careers. Eventually, grandkids might become the focus.
Through all seasons the thread that should hold everything together is friendship.
Not love? You might be wondering. Of course, you can’t have friendship without love, but you can choose to love someone whom you barely tolerate.
Do you know older couples who are still together out of commitment more than enjoyment? My theory is that their missing ingredient is friendship. Somewhere along the way, differences and complaints drowned out friendship. Perhaps their marriage didn’t even start with real friendship.
The Hope of Friendship in Marriage
The hopeful truth about friendship in marriage is that it’s always possible and it’s ever changing.
No matter how opposite two people may be, it’s possible to find enough things in common to forge a friendship if they try. And as life and time change us hopefully for the better, there will always be new ways for friendship to grow.
So let’s review the basics–we teach our kids about being good friends, yet we sometimes forget to put this into practice ourselves. In fact, here is a painfully honest test: would a friend stick around long term if you treated her the way you treat your spouse? Ouch, right? Let’s get back to the basics.
BFF 101: Marriage Edition
Try these four ways to increase the friendship factor in your marriage.
Always have each other’s back.
This is most needed (and easiest to miss) when things go wrong. It means believing the best can come from the heart of the man you know and love, regardless of the circumstance.
When he accidentally backs into the garage door, loses his job or misses something important in the calendar–does he feel that you have his back at that moment? It’s the simple difference between, “I told you so,” which communicates that he successfully met your low expectations, or, “Are you okay?” which shows you care more about his heart than the problem.
Learn how to respond.
Every woman knows that sometimes you just need to be heard and sometimes you need a gentle kick in the pants that only a BFF knows how to give. However, with husbands, we tend to shower them with verbal feedback when sometimes they also just need to be heard.
Other times encouragement or a gentle challenge are needed. Learning which response is best will require listening to God’s prompting in your heart.
What’s the point in sharing your entire life with someone if you’re afraid to share your inner thoughts and feelings? I believe that’s one reason for so many affairs. At some point a feeling or desire becomes too shameful or embarrassing to share.
Vulnerability is always risky, but it’s the path to deeper intimacy. You might be surprised to find that the perspective your spouse offers could be the very thing that unlocks freedom in your life. You are together for a reason. Trust God in this!
No friendship can survive without intentional time together. It’s the ordinary moments when you connect through the day as well as specially planned dates and getaways. It means investing in new experiences and favorite old ones.
Furthermore, time apart also matters! Sometimes prioritizing time in your friendship means holding down the fort while your spouse gets time to pursue a dream or simply time alone to recharge. Both time together and the support of time apart deepens your friendship.
Isn’t it wonderful that we get to build a lifetime of love AND friendship? You can take steps to do this with your husband today, no matter how long you have been married.
Wife Step: Which step can help you be a better friend to your husband today?
Joy was born and raised in a multicultural, bilingual family in the country of Mexico. Although she loves a good taco, her love for a Minnesota guy won out. 14 years of marriage, 4 kids and many geographical locations later, they now reside in Indiana where her husband is completing a doctoral program. Together they love helping couples discover the incredible adventure marriage was intended to be. They have led many marriage small groups, ministries and retreats, but their favorite way to connect with other couples is by simply sharing life together. When not deep in the throes of homeschooling and parenting, Joy enjoys devouring books, stringing words together, dabbling in watercolor, and sipping coffee with friends. Photo credit: Woodford Sisters Photography