What does it take to rebuild the friendship with your spouse?
Julie saw our hearts on the movie screen the other night, against a sunset's fusion of red and gold. She said we were on the bow of a great ship, our arms outstretched as if flying. Then we embraced, our lips met, and for an eternal instant, our lives melted into one.
As we drove home afterward, the oldies station whispering sweet nothin's, we tried to duplicate that kiss. Julie gasped, which fed my ego until I realized I was about to hit my own iceberg—a light pole!
Aren't we all suckers for love? Tender, passionate, embracing love. Love that lifts and protects. In this fast-paced, hectic world, we need love—and we need that wonderful person we're in love with—more than ever. God designed and desired it that way.
But often life's demands soak up our energy and attention, leaving nothing to fuel passion. Stoking that fire becomes a real struggle.
Paradoxically, friendship can turn the struggle into a labor of love.
True, intimate friendship is love in action. An intimate friend is there physically, emotionally, and spiritually when needed. Friends build on the other person's strengths; they understand, challenge, and sometimes ignore the other person's weaknesses. Friends sometimes read each other's thoughts. They laugh and, at times, their tears mingle.
Acting as an intimate friend can re-ignite the fire and turn a predictable marriage into that kiss against a sunset. How can you revitalize your friendship with your spouse?
1. Work at becoming your spouse's best friend. Decide to be attentive, to listen, to see the meaning and the merit. Get morning coffee and the evening tea, care about his comfort and the lotion on her back.
If you're persistent, you'll both begin to break the crusty residue of hassles and distractions. Man and woman were not designed to be alone (Genesis 2:18), so stop being alone. Pray together and share Scripture as that friend your romance needs.
2. Show interest in what interests your spouse. He likes sports? Have popcorn with him during the playoffs. Does she adore classical music? Go to a concert with her.
3. Recognize that you two are different. Couples often believe they have to behave, think, and feel alike—and if they're not alike, they embark on a plan to change the other. It's best to respect and celebrate differences.
If you do, you'll find that a husband's strengths support his wife's weaknesses while his weaknesses are buoyed by her talents. By supporting each other, you become a force for one another and God's kingdom.
4. Allow your spouse to be himself or herself. Forgive mistakes. Praise achievements. Correct your spouse gently, but never demean.
Friends can laugh and get silly with each other. Start some pillow and water balloon fights, and snap a few towels. Playing like children will lead you to play like married adults again.
As friends, look into one another's eyes and allow the sparks of friendship to rekindle the romance. For romance is friendship at its deepest and purest level.
P.S. We made it home just fine (smile).
Dr. Tim Clinton is president of the American Association of Christian Counselors. Married for 28 years, Tim and his wife, Julie, have two children.
1998 by Tim and Julia Clinton and Christianity Today