I am a good friend to my husband. I have tried to make my marriage vows mean what they say. I show up. I listen. I try to laugh. - Anna Quindlen, A Short Guide to a Happy Life
Very often we hear these -
‘She is my best friend’ and ‘The best thing about my marriage is that my spouse is my best friend’.
Whenever I read or hear such statements I always have a mixed feeling. I feel glad that this couple is close and intimate but then I wonder if your spouse should really be your best friend.
It is required to be friends with your spouse. You should have a healthy friendship with the person you are going to spend the rest of your life with. But best friends? I am not sure of this.
By BEST Friend here I mean a person who is the only or sole source of your emotional fulfillment.
Having your spouse as your best friend means you look up to your spouse for all and any kind of emotional and relational need. This means you are dependent on your spouse and you have no one outside the marriage to meet some of your emotional needs.
While having friendship in a marriage is the best thing for a wedded relationship, being best friends is actually a killer.
In the initial years of marriage, a couple comes close and gets intimate. They spend more time with each other and slowly converge in their social circle and sometimes at the centre of the social network it is just the two of them. This is the time when boredom and dependency start creeping in.
It certainly sounds good and tempting to share everything with your spouse but if you disconnect with your friends outside your marriage, you place an extra expectation on your spouse to fill the void that was created by leaving your friends behind. This creates a sense of burden on your spouse who feels he has to take care of an added responsibility. With time as your expectations rise and his boredom increases, this generates resentment on both the ends.
While I believe friendship within a marriage is essential, you also must have friends outside the marriage as well to share few things that you can not share with your spouse and also to let out your emotions and energy elsewhere which leaves you with time and space within your marriage to create something new.
How to Achieve the Balance of Friendship and Marriage
In a marriage, your spouse should be a very good friend of yours but keep the slot of best friend for another same-sex friend outside the marriage.
In the initial few months of my marriage, I was sure I would be my spouse’s best friend and vice versa. It was well for few weeks but then we had problems. He wanted to share his interests with me which were either boring to me or went high above my head. Similarly when I talked about some of my interests to him, I would get yawns from him or just plain hmms.
Finally, I started getting back to my girl-friends. I started spending time with them and the remaining time with my spouse was spent in talking and doing things that interested both of us! This saved us a big deal. Also, since the time I have started spending time and sharing things with my friends, a small argument or any altercation with my spouse does not hurt me as much as it used to earlier.
I feel with a bit of efforts, a couple can maintain the subtle balance of friendship and romance in a marriage that does not overdo things. Here is why and how:
Make same-sex friends outside the marriage – Always have some good, trust worthy same-sex friends outside the marriage with whom you can share your emotions and talk about your passions. In case of heated arguments with your spouse, these friends can show you the way out and can also give you a different, neutral perspective of things that you otherwise ignore.
This leaves room for something new and creative in your marriage – Instead of spending time with your spouse talking about or doing things that interest just one of you, it is better to keep that time reserved for something new and more exciting. Share your passions and energies with your friends and keep that precious time for some romantic and adventurous moments with your spouse.
Do not put all your eggs in one basket – It is better to not put all your eggs in one basket. Being emotionally dependent on just one person is not only dangerous for you but is also a burden on that person. Your partner is your spouse. Spend that quality time with him filled with love, excitement, adventure, passion and joy. Do not waste it in making it bore and monotonous.
Every marriage needs space – Every relationship needs space. It is the most vital thing not only for a marriage but also for two individuals. Giving space to each other lets you follow your own passions and hobbies without giving a suffering to your relationship. It lets you grow as a couple and also as an individual.
In a previous post, I mentioned how taking a break actually helps. This is true. Take a short break and come back to your daily married life with increased joy and energy!
This post has given me an opportunity to thank my friends from the bottom of my heart for being there always and for hearing my never-ending and sometimes boring stories that otherwise no one would have cared to hear. Thank you so much C. YL, N.S., S. B., T. Y. and S.S.