A few weeks ago, I was with a group of friends playing a party game. The idea of the game was to get someone to guess what we were talking about by giving a brief description about the “thing.”
On this particular round the “thing” was our “best friend.” Several people would describe attributes of their spouse or boyfriend/girlfriend. I didn’t. Yep, I didn’t use my wife as my example of my best friend.
In the last couple weeks I have been thinking a lot about this. Am I married to my best friend? Am I in a bad marriage? Is our marriage doomed? Am I a bad husband? Am I just a jerk? Now, the answer to the last two questions may not have anything to do with how I responded to the question in the game.
The notion of being married to your best friend is a very romantic one. It places your spouse at the very top of your friend list. They are your most important friend in your life, they are your everything. That is a wonderful sentiment, but is it selling the relationship between my wife and I short?
She is not my best friend, she is my wife. That is more. I think we have taken this idea of what our marriages are and what they are meant to be and have tried to apply the same standards of our other relationships to them.
I can say that with absolute certainty, what I have been through with my wife required and continues to require a relationship that is beyond a friendship.
We have faced challenges that, statistically speaking, kill marriages. We have a child with special needs and medical challenges, we have faced job loss, extreme financial difficulties, broken trust.
Besides infidelity, we have made it through most of the top challenges that lead to divorce. That takes a relationship beyond being my best friend.
We are friends, of course. We share some common interests and memories. However, I also know there are plenty of areas that we have wildly different preferences.
I loved the Netflix series Stranger Things. She thinks E.T. is a horror movie.
I can watch sports for hours on end by myself, she would rather chat over coffee with a friend. A cabin in the woods sounds amazing to me, a Disney Cruise with all the pampering that goes along with it is her dream. And that is alright.
Because we have other things. We love our children fiercely and love being a part of them experiencing new things and growing in incredible ways. We binge-watched and talked for hours about Making A Murderer. We love filling our home with friends. We love to laugh. I am not even sure love is a strong enough word for this.
Calling her my wife means more. We have an understanding about who we are in each others life. I know that I—as a part of who I am to my core—have a role to play for her that no one else gets to be a part of.
Those areas of difference are what make us the couple God intends us to be. We complement each other, we support each other, we share grace with each other, we speak truth to each other and we hold each other accountable, in a way only we can for each other.
I also believe it is immensely important for me to have a best friend or friends. In order for me to be the best husband to my wife, I need other people to fill that area of my life.
My wife will tell you that I am at my best when I am in quality friendship relationships. I have had periods in my married life when, due to job changes or whatever, I have been out of meaningful relationship with friends I could see regularly. It was at those times that I was probably at my worst as a husband.
I forced a role on my wife that she shouldn’t need to fill. It is incredibly important for both people in a marriage to have good friends to fill the role that a friend plays.
To sum it all up, I believe if my wife and I are working towards being and staying best friends, we are not aiming high enough. She is my wife, we are in a relationship that demands a level of love, intimacy and vulnerability that goes beyond friendship and can only be found in a God-blessed bond.
Aaron is a husband, father and pastor, student of comedy, and huge Muppet fan based in Canton, OH. You can follow him on Twitter @AaronBellNow.