How to make your spouse your friend
My husband is my best friend.
It’s something we strive for as couples — to be friends with our spouses. We know that when relationships begin, it’s best to start as friends. So why is it hard to continue cultivating a friendship after the courtship?
Your spouse is your partner and your better (or other) half. But what about being a friend? A confidant? Truly the guy or gal you want to pal around with???
My husband is the person I talk to about everything. Yes, I still have some gal pals, but Mat is the person who knows my heart, my fears, my concerns, my good days and my bad days. We’re friends. The best of friends, really.
Our friendship grows over time, but it doesn’t happen without some intention and investment. There’s no magic solution to make it happen. We didn’t just get lucky or find “the one.” In fact, this is both of our second go around in the marriage department. That alone can make the friendship dicey as those coming out of a divorce typically struggle with trust, honesty and intimacy.
But no matter if this is your second marriage, your first marriage, or if you’ve been married ten years or you are newlyweds… you can become best friends with your spouse! Here’s a few ideas:
Learn to laugh together.
Life is hard and it’s serious enough without us being sour and solemn. So share some laughs and have some fun! When I get to laughing out loud with my hubby, we feel great and feel happy. It creates those good vibes in the brain that tell your body to feel light and good. The best part… you and your hubby are creating memories and jokes that only you two share. You know those best friends who have inside jokes and memories shared… the same works for you and your best friend/spouse. In our marriage, I tend to be more serious and Mat knows that. So just about the time things get tense, he knows just how to get me laughing.
Your time spent together isn’t meant to be just over bills and budgets and conversations on what to do about the kids. You need to experience things together like a new restaurant, a new sporting event, a new trail to hike, a favorite past time, a favorite….fill in the blank. There’s something to be said for the every day things in life, but when you go out and live a little together, you create a shared memory. This knits the hearts together. My family went out to experience a local festival that turned out to be completely awful. But it was so awful we did nothing but laugh about it and we still laugh about it today! It became a hilarious experience we all shared. Mat and I have great experiences shared over music, over hitting thrift shops and garage sales, over camping and other things we’ve done by living life together.
Slow down and be together.
Life is hectic. It’s busy and the days fly by. Before you know it, seasons have changed and the years have ticked by. So take time to take a break and be together in a slow-down mode. It can be hard to do this the first few times, but don’t be afraid of awkward silences. Sometimes we need the still, silent moments to gather our thoughts or wake up our emotions. But if we never slow down, we don’t recognize those and then we certainly don’t communicate those. If a critical component of marriage is shared intimacy, then certainly we need time, in a slower safe place, to share and talk and swap dreams, ideas, fears and wishes. I remember my parents spending nights together just the two of them sitting out on the back deck of our house, sipping a cup of coffee and talking. Dinner was done and us kids were busy inside doing homework or watching TV. Mom and dad wandered outside to sort of get away for a moment, just the two of them, catch their breath and talk.
Get into what he’s into.
My hubby is a video-gamer. I can count on one hand how many video games I’ve played. We didn’t really grow up with the Atari in our house and what we did have, we didn’t play much. But if Mat’s my friend, my best friend, then I want to know about the things that are important to him. I may not know the latest and greatest video game “thing,” but I want to hear about the games Mat is playing or the ones he is wanting to add to his collection. I ask him questions. I go to video game shops and wait patiently while he looks at each shelf of games. The same goes for Mat’s involvement in my hobbies. He takes time to learn about my writing ideas and goals and even chimes in with his own ideas — and they’re usually really good! Shared interests are important in friendships. I don’t play video games and Mat doesn’t blog, but that doesn’t stop each of us from being interested in what the other does.
Be real about what you really need.
I don’t expect Mat to be a mind reader. When I need something, I ask. When things aren’t working, we talk about it. We don’t keep score and look for ways to one-up each other. That’s not what friends do. Friends talk things out and get good at communicating how they feel, what’s going on in their lives, what’s keeping them up a night and what’s got them excited. Ladies… you have to speak to be heard. Guys… if she’s talking, be listening (and you can share too!) Keep the needs realistic and the expectations in check. Your spouse isn’t meant to do that which only God can be for you. But with that in mind, be open and be real about how you feel and what you need. Don’t make the other person guess.
Lastly… and one of the difference makers in my friendship with Mat…
Know the language your best friend speaks.
One of the difference makers in my marriage that amps up the best friend quotient is knowing how to speak Mat’s language… and Mat knowing how to speak mine. Mat knows I don’t do deep conversations late at night after a long day at the office. He knows I don’t typically like those heavy conversations over the phone. I like face-to-face discussions and I’m probably going to think about the conversation long after it’s over. It’s common for me to come back with a thought or comment a day or two after the conversation is long over, because I tend to think and mull things over. When it comes to me sharing with Mat, I know he tends to push back and question my thinking. He likes to play devil’s advocate and debate things a bit. I need this. I need to walk around all sides of a problem or else I get tunnel vision. These little nuances in our conversation style helps us to understand each other better and leaves us each feeling heard.
These are just a few things to help you deepen that friendship with your spouse. The more you know each other and work on that friendship, the better you’ll get at it. Don’t expect things to change in just one try. Give it time. Nurture it and enjoy the journey of getting to know your spouse in this way.
One last word on the subject….
I can’t stress the importance of prayer. I’m not talking about praying for your spouse to stop doing all those annoying things you wish they’d quit. But praying for inspiration on how to help, listen and encourage. Praying for ways to get creative at showing care, expressing love, and offering your friendship. Praying for a spouse softens your heart and creates a great ground for forgiveness, understanding and patience to grow. It’s a great place to start and finish!