Just a quick apology for the break in my blog posts. First, we went on a much needed vacation. If I was more experienced at blogging, I would have had a couple of articles in the queue…but I’m new to this. Then, I actually was working on two different articles…and the app I use to write them on my iPad crashed. This deleted all my work and I just couldn’t get started again. But…I’m back. So…onto the topic at hand.
I am not embarrassed to say that my husband is my best friend. I’m not talking about the warm, fuzzy, “you complete me” kind of sentiment. I don’t personally feel that anyone, except Jesus Christ, can complete anyone. But, I am talking about a safe, comfortable, peace of mind relationship where there is shared history, shared experiences, and simple pleasure in each others company. I’m talking about that safe place and that loved place.
According to an article I recently read by Cynthia Hanson, having your spouse as your best friend is ‘unhealthy’. “Friendship is a huge part of marriage, but expecting your spouse to be your everything is unrealistic and can strain the relationship,” says psychotherapist Joyce Marter, CEO of Urban Balance LLC, a counseling group practice in Chicago. “Women need and deserve multiple people in our lives who love us and offer us support, whether it’s for a crisis like a serious illness or a daily drama with a nasty coworker. It’s not fair or wise to rely on your husband for all your friendship needs.”
Couples who are enmeshed in each other’s lives tend to be boring. “It’s a setup for too much dependency and isolation from other sources of support,” Marter explains. Far better is to enjoy what she calls a “healthy separation,” where spouses have different friends, work and hobbies that make them interesting and whole. You’ll bring more to the marriage party if you have a life and experiences outside of your relationship.
In addition, men and women process emotions and life…and relationships differently. Marter feels that we need people of our same gender to relate to, outside our marriage. And, she also says that our having best friends outside our marriage is healthy for our children. It exposes them to different people with different personalities. And it helps them understand that there people outside of family that care about them.
I don’t disagree with these ideas at all, but I think this article is missing the point. First of all, I don’t think there should be a limit on ‘best friends’. I, for one, have had multiple best friends in my life. I’ve had best friends in various stages of my life. I remember telling my own children that they shouldn’t expect to keep in touch with their high school friends once they graduated because that was unrealistic. My kids couldn’t imagine it at the time, but now understand what I was talking about. (Of course…that was before Facebook which has allowed us to reconnect with people with whom we went to preschool.)
I’ve had my best work friends. I’ve had best church friends. There are a few couples who are our best couple friends. And, of course there are those family members who are your best friends. And…last, but never least, I’ve had a best girlfriend. I’ve actually had two…one of my youth and now one for my ‘golden years’.
All these friends have shared different aspects of my life and have been there for various stages of my life. But, the one constant best friend has been my husband, Bobby.
It seems like we have always been friends. In fact, we were close friends before we began a romantic relationship. We were friends in high school. But, I married someone else. And, having been married before to someone who wasn’t my friend, I was hesitant to begin a romantic relationship if it meant risking our friendship. I’m sure glad I took the risk.
Bobby and I recently celebrated our 35th wedding anniversary. And, what we have realized in our 35 years of marriage is that, while we do have different interests, we just enjoy being together. Which is a good thing since we both recently retired and are together all the time. And, isn’t it most couple’s goal to grow old together? How dreadful would it be to reach this stage of life and not spend it with your best friend? I’ve known couples who didn’t nurture the friendship aspect of their marriage. They either ended up divorced, or living under the same roof…but leading separate, lonely lives.
Which takes me back to the purpose of this writing. Yes, your life shouldn’t revolve around your spouse to the exclusion of all else. And other people should be included in your circle of friends. But, with all the changes and stages you will experience over the years, the one constant will be your spouse. At least, that should be the goal. So, for me, there is nothing ‘unhealthy’ about being a best friend with your spouse. In fact, I think it is the sign of a healthy marriage.