Words with Friends
by Venessa Harewood
It’s 11:50 pm and my husband Dale and I are turning in for the night. We are on our respective sides of the bed staring intently at our “smartphones”. After a few minutes of silence, my husband solemnly says to me “your turn”. I hear the familiar tone that alerts me a move has been made and I grin with anticipation. I’m thinking “he’s going down”. As I maneuver to the application I am met with the words “You lost”. I pick my face up off the ground and announce, “Oh, it’s on now” even though this is about the seventh time I have been severely “whopped” in our daily battle of “words with friends”. As he gets up and does a victory dance, I struggle not to laugh (I am determined not to show pleasure to my tormenter). At this moment, I am appreciative beyond measure for being married to my best friend!
Friendship and marriage seem to be an oxymoron in the lives of many married couples, in particular Christian couples. Somehow in our quest to live “righteously”, we have neglected the foundational piece of building a friendship with our spouses. God did not design marriage to be a prison sentence! It seems that couples have determined that they will enter into a lifelong “til death do us part” relationship; where they leave, cleave and become one with a person who they “kinda, sorta “like. If God desires relationship with us and He considers us to be His friend, why would He not desire for us to develop that depth of relationship with our spouses?
Research shows that couples with the highest degree of marital satisfaction report that they consider their wives or their husbands to also be their friend. Compatibility and camaraderie nurture and feed the marital relationship even more than sexual satisfaction (note, this is not in lieu of sex, but in addition to). The key for most couples is recognizing and valuing that which they began in their dating lives, having fun with one another without concern for reciprocity.
I am always amazed at my friends who are constantly in planning mode for the next “girl’s night out”. In most cases their desire is based out of the need to be free to be “themselves” and to “let their hair down”. When I hear statements along this line I wonder “who are you in your marriage?” and why can’t SHE enjoy herself with her spouse? While there is absolutely nothing wrong with spending time with girls, or hanging out with the guys, in fact these bonds are an important aspect of being a healthy and whole person; these “gatherings” usually serve as a substitute for building intimacy and friendship with your spouse.
I believe most couples had some sort of friendship connection when they dated, but somewhere they abandoned building upon this framework. The key to strengthening the bonds of friendship is prioritizing spending time together and determining to become better friends. In developing the building blocks of friendship, Couples should concentrate on the 3L’s, Love, laughter and loyalty.