My husband gently stroked my hair as we cuddled in bed one chilly morning. "It's not blond," he murmured, "and it doesn't spill over the pillow. For so many years I thought that's what I wanted."
I pinched his "love handles" in retaliation! "And you're not the tall, muscular hunk I've always dreamed about."
"Aren't you glad?" he teased.
"Sure am." I reflected for a moment on the state we had been in when we met. We each had an image of what we were looking for in a prospective mate, especially since this was the second time around for both of us. Neither of us fit the other's picture. Yet the attraction was there. From the moment we met at a dinner party in Los Angeles, I knew I wanted to get to know this gentle man with the large blue eyes—a man who listened, talked, and laughed. I felt safe with him. He seemed like a person I could trust—a man who could be a friend. And it was nice to find out he wanted to learn more about me.
We didn't fall in love right away. We were friends first—good companions. We shared music and books, spent time with our children, attended church together on Sundays, and discovered each other's likes and dislikes.
We also disagreed and argued. We still do sometimes. I'm spontaneous. Charles is methodical. I see the glass half full and he sees it half empty. He likes to think things through. I feel my way into a decision. But despite our differences we've remained friends. And today after nearly 30 years of marriage, it's friendship and our shared faith in Christ that hold us together.
Friendship, as I see it, is something to look for at the start of a relationship and to commit to for the long haul. Love is essential, and attraction and passion are important too, but being friends will keep a relationship warm and safe and loving long after physical passion subsides.
"Easy for you to say," my friend Lena once told me with a playful huff. "Dick and I fell in love and we married—just like that. When I hear other women talking about their husbands being their best friends, I'm jealous. I wish I could say that about Dick, but I can't. What can I do now? I doubt I'm alone in this."
Can You Become Friends After You Marry?
According to women I spoke with, yes you can—over time and with persistence. I asked three older friends to share what they discovered about friendship and love during the course of their 50-plus years of marriage. Here are their responses, based on the definition of the word friend that I found in the Free Online Dictionary: "A person whom one knows, likes, and trusts."