It’s possible to be married and not be friends.
If you don’t believe me, let me state it another way. It’s possible to love someone you don’t like very much. If you’ve ever been to a family reunion or a family Thanksgiving dinner, you understand this concept. Most of us have certain people in our lives we love very much (we’ll even cry at their funeral), but our typical reaction to them is often an eyeroll or even frustration.I don’t want to just love my wife: I want to like her, too. She’s not my enemy. We already have an enemy who would like our marriage to be filled with discord, distraction, distance, and division. Click To Tweet
God’s Design for Marriage: A Covenant of Friendship
This “love but not like” scenario is not God’s ideal for your marriage. God designed marriage to be a covenant of friendship. In Genesis 2:18, before sin ever presented itself in the human condition, God identified something that was not good.
My wife is not my enemy: God gave her to me to be my lifelong friend.
He said, “It is not good for a man to be alone.” His design is that one man and one woman be in covenant together and be friends.
I don’t want to just love my wife: I want to like her, too. She’s not my enemy. We already have an enemy who would like our marriage to be filled with discord, distraction, distance, and division. My wife is not my enemy: God gave her to me to be my lifelong friend.
In his fifth century book Confessions, Augustine defined friendship in this way: “It is to make conversation, to share a joke, to perform mutual acts of kindness, to read together well-written books, to share in trifling and in serious matters, to disagree, though without animosity, just as a person debates with himself. And in the very rarity of disagreement, to find the salt of normal harmony, to teach each other something, or to learn from one another, to long with impatience for those absent, to welcome them with gladness on their arrival.”
Dating Your Best Friend
One of the most reliable methods of building a friendship is dating. That’s how we made all our friends. We went places and spent time together, creating memories and bonds. That’s how you fell in love and developed your relationship with your spouse. That is the same way you’re going to maintain and deepen your friendship with your spouse throughout your entire life.
In his New York Times bestseller The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work, Dr. John Gottman, a leading sociologist and researcher in his field, says that, though men and women have many differences, he has consistently found that they want the same thing in marriage. Both men and women are happiest and their marriage healthiest when their spouse is their best friend.
Dating your spouse doesn’t need to be complicated or expensive. It can be as simple as a walk in the park and a picnic lunch. The kind of things that would’ve thrilled you when you were first becoming acquainted are the things that will nurture your friendship and strengthen your marriage.
When Life Gets Busy
We don’t intend for it to happen, but often our busy schedules and the frantic pace of life deny us the necessary emotional intimacy to maintain a healthy marriage. Dating is a great way to be intentional about recapturing that intimacy. Set a day every week or a few times a month when nothing else is scheduled.
It’s not about the money, the event, or the experience: it’s what the intentional investment of time and attention does in our hearts.
Then do something together. That’s date night, and it’s sacred in our marriage.
It’s not about the money, the event, or the experience: it’s what the intentional investment of time and attention does in our hearts. We feel loved, tended to, and valuable to the most important person in our life—all the things that a busy life and family unfortunately have the tendency of denying.
Find a babysitter you trust, pay them well, and invest time in a happy and healthy marriage. Take your spouse out on a date.
Bio: Date nights are a regular part of the schedule for Adam Solorio and his wife, Betsy. The couple has been married for seventeen years, and they have been blessed with five children. Adam serves as the pastor of The Church of Casey, a congregation he and Betsy planted nine years ago in Casey, Illinois. Adam shares his story on behalf of the UPCI Family Ministries Council.
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