Every so often on a Saturday or Sunday night you'll find me cuddled up under blankets on the couch, reading a novel, or surfing Netflix, or watching Masterpiece Mystery (and maybe eating a bag of jalapeño kettle chips, but let's keep that part between us). Other than the kids upstairs in bed, I'm alone in the house . . . and it's a great thing for our marriage.
Because on those every-so-often evenings, my husband is out with friends—meeting some buddies at a Southside pub or hanging out at a friend's house. And I'm okay with that. In fact, I'm great with that.
It's not that I'm desperate for time alone or I want to get my husband away from me—I just believe that having an occasional guy night is good for him. And thus, it's good for us.
Friendship is one of God's very good gifts to humankind. And I treasure it. I'm refreshed and invigorated by time spent with women I can be real with. My friends help me sift out the chaos and stress of my life and get back down to who I really am. My friends help me see clearly. My friends help me see God even in my pain or failure or brokenness. My friends help me grow a deep-rooted faith.
Along with accountability and spiritual encouragement, friendship can offer us fun. Laughter, joy, de-stressing, letting our guard down, telling dumb jokes, enjoying good food, revisiting old memories, and building new ones together—these light-hearted aspects of friendship are also part of God's good gift to us.
We see the powerful example of committed friendship in David and Jonathan; in Ruth and Naomi; in Jesus and his close friendships with people like Mary, Martha, and Lazarus. Friendships like these strengthen and shape us. These important and enriching relationships deeply bless us and better us to face the tough road of life. And our need for them doesn't evaporate when we marry. Sure, things change—and they ought to! But we lose out, as individuals and as a couple, if we think marriage somehow supplants all our friendship needs.
Follow the Golden Rule
I know I'm a better me when I'm connected with friends. But when I'm lonely or isolated or disconnected from community? Let me be honest: In those seasons, I'm more stressed, I'm crabbier, I'm impatient, I'm critical, I'm less happy. And I'm less me. While friendships enrich, loneliness depletes.