Ahh marriage. It’s a wonderful institution with many great aspects. For example, sexual intimacy in marriage is great. But it’s more like the icing on the cake. First you have to bake the cake. And that cake is emotional intimacy. What is emotional intimacy? Being connected. In short, you are friends first, lovers second.
If you aren’t friends with your spouse, chances are that your marriage will falter. The physical aspects of a relationship can only take you so far. But after the lights go on, things get hard, and you both need to buckle down and go through life together, what is going to help you the most? Your friendship.
The importance of the role of friendship in marriage cannot be overstated. Think about what being a friend means. You tell each other everything; in fact, you can’t wait to talk to each other. You appreciate the little things about each other. You encourage and uplift each other. What an awesome friendship that is! But doesn’t that also sound like it could also be an incredible marriage?
How can you develop that kind of friendship in your own marriage? Here are some ways to develop the friendship aspect of your relationship and help it play a more prominent role in your married life.
Don’t Stop Dreaming Together
When you first got together with your spouse, you probably both shared your hopes and dreams of the future. Eventually those hopes and dreams merged as you got married. Many times, however, as you get caught up in the day-to-day life of a family and a career, you stop talking about your hopes and dreams. Maybe it’s because life is too demanding, or maybe you feel like you can’t dream right now. Or perhaps you figure your spouse already knows your dreams, so what is left to talk about?
Friends always dream together. So take that up with your spouse, even if it’s been a long time. Bring it up when you’re eating dinner, driving somewhere, or just sitting in bed. “What do you dream about?” or “Where do you see yourself and our family in 5 years?” or “What are the top three things on your bucket list?” Keep these as regular discussion topics and you’ll keep that friendship growing.
Trust Your Spouse Fiercely
Think about your best friend growing up. Did you ever doubt that he or she could do whatever they said they would? Or did you ever not trust them to come through for you? Friends trust each other and give each other the benefit of the doubt. When they say they are going to train for a marathon, the other is just supposed to trust and support, not point out how hard it is and doubt their sincerity. Friends uplift, support, and trust. That’s what friends do, right? Well, when was the last time you did that for your spouse?
Your spouse is pretty smart. You can trust them to think things through and have everyone’s best interests at heart. If they want to do something, trust them. Give them respect and love. Don’t knock the wind out of their sails by giving them a “reality check.” Because chances are, they’ve already thought of the downsides. Quit doubting your spouse. Instead, trust and support them fiercely.
Spend One-on-One Time Together
Something friends always do is find ways to get together regularly. They text regularly, and hang out at least weekly. They do regular stuff together, like shop or go to events. But they also do special things on the weekends, like go to a party, movie, dinner, or something else fun. Do the same with your spouse to develop that friendship bond. You can’t really bond if you are just occupying the same space. You need to go out and actually do an activity together. Make a commitment to do it weekly—date night should definitely be a non-negotiable in marriage. You’ll soon see your friendship blossom in ways it hasn’t in a long time. Put it on your calendar and stick to it.
Open Up and Share
When was the last time you had a real heart-to-heart talk with your spouse? Where you share your thoughts and feelings about something? Friends do that. They are ok being vulnerable with each other, saying what they think, listening to the other person, and just sharing in general. They do it often and they do it with love. For it is during those times that two people can truly feel validated, heard, and bonded together. That is the true meaning of emotional intimacy and friendship in marriage—to not just be two halves of one whole, but to be one whole together. A strong friendship in marriage can help you to accomplish that.