Date night . . . there’s a place not far from our house, Diego’s ~ Spirited Kitchen, that Lisa and I find our way to on a semi-regular basis for a few moments away. We don’t often order much, maybe a little avocado salsa fresca, but we just love to spend time together.
It was a busy night at Diego’s a few weeks back. We couldn’t help noticing the couple – mid-sixties, maybe – who sat the entire evening, stone-faced, across from each other. Not a word passed between them.
Hope they enjoyed the food – really sad. I don’t know their story but that didn’t keep me from wanting to take the guy by the lapels and say, “Can’t you see the vacant longing in your wife’s eyes? She’s begging to be loved by you!”
What was Lisa doing? I noticed something in her face as she discreetly looked their way. Something in her eyes evaluated, wondered, analyzed.
“Do you think we’ll wind up like that twenty years down the road?” She said unexpectedly.
Now, she knew the answer. I know she did . . . but somehow she wanted the assurance of hearing me say it.
“Of course not – we’re going to be friends forever.”
But, didn’t the older couple start out with the same desire? Doesn’t everyone begin marriage with an expectation of friendship and closeness for the long haul?
Then “Life” happens and The Book of Love sits neglected, collecting dust on some hidden shelf.
God designed us for so much more than that – for depth, for richness, for a highly fulfilling marriage, but it won’t happen automatically. To experience a marriage like that, we’ve got to do things God’s way and cultivate a lifestyle that places a priority on those things that will lead toward the relationship we so desire.
Let’s keep it real – it is impossible to have a fulfilling friendship with your spouse if there is no willingness on his/her part to do so. But, one thing is certain – if you don’t pursue the habit of friendship in your marriage, it will never happen. Even if your spouse is a little resistant due to the path you have walked, God can do miracles in a marriage where His ways are embraced and you choose to walk obediently.
So where do you start in pursuing a lifelong friendship with your spouse?
When it comes to having a friendship, God says you need to initiate the process. Proverbs 18:24 – if you’re going to have friends, you must be friendly (MLJV).
This verse is never more true than in the relationship between husband and wife. To experience friendship with your spouse, it’s got to start somewhere. Initiate friendship by doing and saying those things that demonstrate your purpose to be your spouse’s good friend.
Here are 7 suggestions toward pursuing friendship with your spouse. Husband or Wife, these all apply equally to each:
1) Dinner, coffee, a stroll through the park . . . pick a moment to tell her you want to become and remain her best friend for life. Ask her, “How can I become a better friend to you?”
2) What is she interested in? Ask her questions about those things.
3) It’s Monday morning. Do you have priorities for the week? Discuss them with her and ask her what are her goals and priorities for the week. Share the things that matter to you.
4) Pick a day (every week!) and do something for her that you know she’ll love.
5) Tell her something about her personality, way of thinking, abilities, or contribution that you particularly love and appreciate.
6) Build her up with your words in public. Do you like it when someone directly contradicts you in company? She/He doesn’t like it, either. It’s demeaning and disrespectful.
7) Listen with genuine interest when she talks. Be interested in her opinions and perspective.
For most spouses, friendship with each other is like a ripe apple, just waiting to be picked and enjoyed. If you truly want friendship then initiate by doing the things with and for your spouse that demonstrates what a solid-gold friend you are. Pursue the habit of friendship and enjoy that highly fulfilling, rich marriage you desire and that God desires for you both.
Matt Jacobson is a biblical marriage coach, founder of FaithfulMan.com a biblical marriage, parenting, and discipleship ministry providing written and audio teaching, as well as couples marriage coaching. He is also the creator of FREEDOM Course, an 8 session class, including a workbook, where he teaches men the biblical path to finding total victory from pornography and sexual sin. He is the co-host (with his wife, Lisa) of Faithful Life Podcast and is author of the bestseller, 100 Ways to Love Your Wife. Matt is pastor of Cline Falls Bible Fellowship and is married to Lisa, founder of Club31Women.com (they have 8 kids!).