We’re almost at the end of our five-part series: How to Establish the Most Important Marriage Expectations. The past three weeks we’ve looked at expectations on love, family, and household responsibilities. Today we’re talking about friendship, because “As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend” Proverbs 27:17
Expectation #4: Friendship
Andrew and I are definitely different when it comes to friendship. I think it mainly has to do with our personality types; I’m a major extrovert, while Drew is more introverted. However, we both see the value of community in our lives and make an effort to surround ourselves with great people. Our church believes that cultivating community is vital as believers, so we belong to two small groups. One of the groups is for young married couples like us, and Drew helps lead our other group, which is centered around young professionals. We have wonderful friends outside of the church that we spend time with as well. But the most important friendships of them all are the friendship we have with Christ and each other. “Happy is the man who finds a true friend, and far happier is he who finds that true friend in his wife”, Franz Schubert.Click To Tweet
When it comes to friendship, I think there are three areas that need to be discussed.
- Time spent with friends
- Your best friends
Time spent with friends
As healthcare professionals, Drew and I have similar but differing work schedules. Therefore, twice a week we each have the majority of the day to ourselves to spend as we please. As I previously mentioned, I’m an extrovert. So on my off days, I’m usually spending time with friends and family, and just generally “out and about”. You would think that on these days I would come home early and spend some extra time with my hubs when he gets off. However, that’s not always the case. Sometimes, I stay at my parent’s too long or I’m off having a girls night with friends. There is nothing wrong with this, but moderation is key. Especially when we don’t have a ton of time to spend together as is.
Work schedules, little ones, family, church, and other obligations can easily take up lots of your time. So it’s important to be both intentional and wise with what you have to spare and make room for one another. Talk about discussing plans with each other before you make them. It’s not about asking permission or seeking approval, it’s about respecting each other and the time you have together. It’s also a great way to establish daily or weekly expectations. If I let Drew know I’ll be out late with my girlfriends, he may decide to do the grocery shopping that night, win/win. How much time you spend with friends is definitely a good conversation to have, especially if one of you is more social than the other. Furthermore, I think boundaries are an even more crucial conversation when you take into account the opposite-sex.
I remember the first major conversation I had with Andrew like it was yesterday. We talked after work for hours, about a wide variety of topics, one of those being opposite-sex relationships. Drew claimed that men and women shouldn’t be friends without a purpose, when in a committed relationship with someone else. For instance, I can be friends with Bob at work, because there is a purpose for that friendship (i.e. we work together and it makes our work environment more enjoyable). However, staying old pals with a few guys from high school when in a relationship isn’t best practice, especially if romance was previously involved on some level.
I disagreed with Drew’s logic at first, since I was guilty of having such relationships. But the more involved Drew and I became, the more I realized he may have been on to something. Being made more notable when the tables were turned, and we addressed relationships he had with female friends. There must be boundaries in your relationship, and that goes beyond “no cheating”. It’s far too easy to become emotionally entangled with a “good friend”. Many extra-marital affairs stem from friendships, that became emotional affairs, and then one thing leads to another. Also be aware that although you may be innocent, you can never know someone else’s motives. Guard your hearts, and be mindful of who you make a confidant.
Now that Drew and I are married we mainly stick to couples. And it’s entirely ok for some of your couple relationships to have sparked from friendships you had with members of the opposite sex. For instance, I’m still very close with my best male friend from college. We’re now both married, and we love each others’ spouses. This is wonderful because we’re all comfortable with one another, there is a level of trust and respect between us, and the relationship has been maintained.
It’s a good idea to discuss opposite-sex relationships with your spouse or significant other early on. Be willing to compromise, and even give up some friendships. Try to be empathetic. And most of all remember that your spouse should be your most important earthly friend, bringing me to my next point.
Your best friends
Timothy Keller wrote, “friendship is a deep oneness that develops when two people, speaking the truth in love to one another, journey together to the same horizon” in The Meaning of Marriage: Facing the Complexities of Commitment with the Wisdom of God. I absolutely love this book and encourage everyone to read it, whether you’re single and preparing for marriage or have been married for years; it’s a game changer. I wholeheartedly agree with this quote. When you and your spouse make a covenant with God to become one, you are choosing to embark on a forever journey. Through this journey, I hope and pray you find yourself alongside your two best friends. God on one side, and your spouse on the other.When you and your spouse make a covenant with God to become one, you are choosing to embark on a forever journey. Click To Tweet
“Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” John 15:13 (NIV). This verse reminds us that our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, is our greatest friend of them all. He was sent down from heaven to die on the cross for our sins so we may have a never-ending covenant relationship with the Father. And the Holy Spirit lives within all of us so that we may exemplify godly behavior and love others.
“A man who has friends must be a friend, but there is a friend who stays nearer than a brother” Proverbs 18:24 (NLV). The Lord will always be there for you in times of trouble, heartache, joy, and triumph. Lean on him when you cannot lean on others, and that includes your spouse. You and your spouse will not always be the “best of friends” or even friendly to one another. However, remember that with Christ we can overcome all things and choose to love one another in the midst of the toughest situations.
After God, your spouse should be your best friend, confidant, and cheerleader. However, don’t expect this to happen overnight, especially if you all are in a new relationship. Drew and I were only together a year before we married. And while he is slowly becoming my best friend, we are still learning one another and developing our relationship. Like Timothy Keller said, friendship is a deep oneness that develops. Along your marriage journey it won’t always be rainbows and sunshine. However, when we remember that our partners are our teammates and not our opponents, speak the truth in love, and renew our grace daily it’s easier to love.
That’s What Friends Are For
“I cannot even imagine where I would be today were it not for that handful of friends who have given me a heart full of joy. Let’s face it, friends make life a lot more fun” — Charles R. SwindollWhen two become one, we must re-evaluate what our friendships look like to create an environment of trust and respect. Remember, no person should come before your spouse, and a healthy marriage will reflect that. Click To Tweet
We were not meant to be alone, therefore God gives us the gifts of love and friendship through his fellow children. Discussing how you deal with friendship should be fundamental when expressing your expectations. As singles, we have patterns and habits that involve others. However, when two become one, we must re-evaluate what our friendships look like to create an environment of trust and respect. Remember, no person should come before your spouse, and a healthy marriage will reflect that.
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With lots of love,
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