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More than Romance

Can your spouse be your best friend too?
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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."

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Mary Brown

June 13, 2012  1:43pm

I'm blessed to be married to my best friend. We were friends first and don't actually remember when we met. Bob likes that because he can make up any story he wants about it! This is a great article, very insightful. I never thought about it, but it makes sense that people who didn't start with friendship can cultivate it with their spouse. I would recommend it, but it takes both parties to make it work, just like anything else in marriage.

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H

May 14, 2012  2:44pm

Sabrina -- I'm curious as to why you think your husband cannot be both your friend and your spouse? Also, the author of this article does not imply that married individuals should not have outside friends, or that your spouse serves the same purpose as your outside friends. Both husbands and wives need outside friends to lean on for support and companionship. But an individual's spouse should be the person that a spouse is closest to in the entire world. The spouse is the first person to go to when there is a problem, when in need of support, or when there is good news. A person should not trust or confide in someone outside of the marriage more than the spouse. I also hope that a person's spouse is the individual whom a person enjoys spending the most time with. That's not to say that someone who is married never confides in outside friends or never enjoys spending time with outside friends, but spouses should be first.

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Sabrina

May 14, 2012  12:41pm

To me this 'best friend' stuff ranks right up for with 'he/she's my soulmate' in being a form of marital oneupmanship. Personally, I think it sounds like some of those people who claim their spouses are their "best friends" don't have very many friends period. Chances are they may be fronting,or they just plain don't trust their husbands enough to go do things apart from them. A husband should your HUSBAND and NOT your "best friend" in the same way your women friends are your friends.

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