Friendship in marriage is extremely important. Friendship is what allows relationships of any kind to thrive. Some people are of the opinion that a husband and wife cannot be friends. There are those who argue that it’s impossible to be friends with a sexual partner. They believe that sex and friendship do not mix. And since sex and marriage go hand in hand, then friendship between a married couple cannot exist. Then there are others who believe that friendship can only exist between equals. And since according to their point of view husbands and wives are not equals, husbands and wives cannot be friends.
Marriage is complicated on paper. And yet, in practice marriage is nothing more than a relationship between two people. It’s a unique kind of relationship. It comes with certain benefits that don’t exist in most other types of relationships. You get to place expectations on another person. You get to demand certain favors and treatment as an entitlement and right.
But behind closed doors all you have in a marriage are two people. And if those people don’t like each other, they are certainly not going to want to meet each other’s demands for special favors and special treatment.
You don’t have to like your spouse?
There’s this crazy idea some people have that you don’t have to like your spouse. That as long as you’re in the marriage and committed to staying in the marriage, the marriage can still work out.
It’s true that you can spend the rest of your life married to someone you don’t like. And you can go through the motions and play out the role of wife or husband, doing your so-called marital duties. And in some people’s opinion that’s what marriage is all about anyway. So who cares if deep down inside you’re filled with resentment for the person to whom you’re married. Who cares if you can’t stand them and don’t get any sense of real fulfillment from being around them? Who cares if you’re in a situation where you’re living with someone you hardly ever talk to and with whom you do not have a truly meaningful relationship? Who cares if you are living with someone who, if not for the fact of being married to them, would never be someone you would have in your life?
Friendship is essential to the success of your marriage
Marriage is the only relationship where people are expected to live together for the rest of their lives. Living with another person is never easy. There’s a reason we all leave home the first chance we get. We love our family but we can’t live with them. We need the freedom to be ourselves without having to put up with other people complaining about the things we do. And we need our space so we don’t have to put up with things that annoy and irritate us.
When you have a real and true friendship with someone, you are able to have a long lasting relationship with them. Friendship is probably the only thing that allows relationships to withstand all the pressures and stresses and strains that will test the relationship over time. To be married to someone with whom you do not have a close friendship is to punish yourself. You’re essentially living out a long term sentence of suffering the annoyances and irritations of living in close quarters with someone with whom you would not interact if not for the fact that you happen to be married to them.
Ask yourself: Does it really make sense that I am staying married to someone I now know to be someone with whom I would never have been friends if we had never been physically attracted to each other? In other words, you and your spouse “fell in love” for what ever reason. Something attracted you to each other and you ended up together because of that attraction. But after some time it has become clear that if the attraction had never happened, this is not someone with whom you would have had any other type of relationship. It’s not someone with whom you would have been friends. It’s not someone you would have even liked.
Friendship can be cultivated
The fact that you married this person you now cannot call a friend indicates that there is hope for building friendship. Attraction is powerful and can lead people to making rash decisions; but most people at least believe they love the person they married not just because the person makes them feel physically wonderful, but because they like the person as well. So at some point in time you did actually like your spouse. You would not have married him/her otherwise. It’s just that you’ve had time to settle down. The rose colored glasses have come off and you have now seen sides to your spouse that you did not see when your love was new. By focusing on the things you do not like and your spouse focusing on the things he/she does not like about you, you created an environment in which friendship could not grow. But such an environment can be transformed with a little effort.
For help cultivating a friendship with your spouse check out the article “Best friends forever: How to cultivate friendship in marriage” on the website familyshare.com