So you think you know what friendship is? - Renew | Repurpose

29 June 2020

So you think you know what friendship is?

I have a new best friend. Dan.

We’ve ridden mountain roads on a motorcycle and let our hair fly loose in a Jeep Wrangler. We’ve shared meals and Sudoku puzzles and volunteer experiences. We’ve planted flowers and veggies together. We’ve hiked and kayaked.

 

Kayaking on Hosmer Lake with South Sister as backdrop (photo: Dan)

I was quite content as a widow. But Dan has ruined all that.

I can’t imagine going back to being single after sharing so much of life with this good man.

We enjoy working outdoors together, browsing through Home Depot and local garden shops, watching the same kinds of movies.

Excursions over the mountains to see our kids and grands in the valley are so much more fun with a road trip companion.

But. If you do a web search, you’ll find articles with titles like these: “Why You Shouldn’t Be Friends With Your Spouse,” and “Please Don’t Call Your Spouse Your Best Friend.”

The reasons listed include: “When you’re in a friend zone marriage, you don’t really care what your partners’ needs are.” And, “You and your partner should be lovers, not friends.”

One psychologist wrote that thinking of our spouses as our best friend “hinders the happiness and self-growth of both parties.” And a relationship expert indicated that it’s “dangerous chiefly because it forces you to put too many expectations on one person.”

When I use the term best friend, it doesn’t mean I have only one friend and therefore he/she is carrying the weight of all my friendship needs.

It simply means this is the one person in the whole world that I’d most like to do things with: Conversation over Chai tea. Exploring through a national park. Summiting a tall mountain trail. Attending a University of Oregon/Oregon State football game (um … maybe not a good example since we’d be sitting on opposite sides of the stadium).

When I say best friend, I mean the person I can trust with my deepest hurts and longings and secrets, the one I can be completely open and vulnerable with. The one who sees me at my worst and still loves and accepts me as I am.

 

Photo by Joe Yates on Unsplash

In 19 days, my best friend and I will be Mr. and Mrs.

Tim Keller said this:

The purpose of marriage is friendship, companionship. 

Keller explained it something like this: If we can’t be vulnerable with our spouses, if there are things we keep from them and can only tell a friend or family member, then we’re holding back part of ourselves. And withholding part of ourselves from our spouses gets in the way of being fully united spiritually, mentally, emotionally, and physically.

According to Keller, Proverbs 2:17 speaks of one’s spouse as allup, a unique word that the lexicons define as special confidant or best friend. “In an age where women were often seen as the husband’s property … it was startling for the Bible to describe a spouse in this way.”

When God brought the first man his spouse, he brought him not just a lover but the friend his heart had been seeking.

 

Photo by Daniel Salgado on Unsplash

What if?

Cultivating a strong friendship with our spouses has a good deal to do with living well through every hard and holy moment.

Listen to this quote from G.K. Chesterton:

There are no words to express the abyss between isolation and having one ally. It may be conceded to the mathematician that four is twice two. But two is not twice one; two is two thousand times one.

What if our spouse was that main ally when life gets challenging and heartbreaking and gut-wrenching?

What if we could speak our deepest hopes and fears to him/her?

And what if we could share not only a marriage bed, but also recreation and adventure? What if we could exhibit our love for God by serving and loving other people? Together?

The force of that would be two thousand times one.

19 Comments
  • Shirley Glaze Smith says:

    Loved your post. SO agree. My hubby & I have been married 45 years and have almost always been best friends (he had a brain burp for 6 months but I believe & forever and I guess he did too!) so I was tickled to read all you put into this. SO true. Thanks for sharing this important concept.
    I have a lot of best friends, but my Doug is my very best friend!
    When I was a Jr I so admired you and your friends, Shirley (e?) H & Cheryl. What a joy to have a great class ahead of us to look up to.
    Thanks for being used of God.
    Congrats! Shirley

    • Shirley – I, too, have a lot of wonderfully close girlfriends and sisters and nieces that I can talk to about most anything. And while I recognize that these women are priceless gifts in my life, none of them takes the place of this man who is truly my closest friend and soon-to-be husband. And I anticipate the relationship will only grow deeper with time.

  • Charlotte Lake says:

    Congratulations Marlys & Dan! We are so happy for both of you. Praying God’s blessings as you begin your new life together. So awesome to share your life with your best friend. Love, Char

  • Allison J McCormick says:

    Marlys,

    Beautifully stated and what a wonderful reminder of the power of a loving marriage relationship.

    Mac and I have been married 40 years and we continue to cultivate our friendship. With age the marriage shifts, sweetens, softens and the friendship grows deeper and more dear.

    Wishing you and Dan a friendship that carries your through the beautiful, challenging, curious times of your marriage.

    ~Allison

  • Marlys, I like your reasoning of a marriage partner. Seems to line up with God’s intent. I am beyond happy for you and Dan as the wedding day draws near. Congratulations once again.

  • Congratulations to you and Dan, Marlys! I am blessed with some dear girlfriends who I can share with,
    but there is no one I’d rather be with than my husband, Jack. We didn’t start out as best friends, but
    the Lord did a tremendous healing in our marriage about 14 years into it. And by His grace, we are still
    happy to be together 24 years later. We’ve been through so much together and it’s taken a lot of refining
    for these two imperfect people to become best friends–it has been worth it all. I thank God for this
    great blessing in our lives.

    • What a great story, Kathleen: “it’s taken a lot of refining for these two imperfect people to become best friends – it has been worth it all.” Thank you for sharing. After tasting good marriages that included strong friendships and then losing that good thing to cancer, I wonder if, in Dan’s and my story, we haven’t appreciated the camaraderie and best-friendship more?

  • Ed Goode says:

    Congratulations Marlys! Sheila & I first began following you through Widowed Village when our spouses died with a few weeks of each other 4 years ago … We met by chance through Widowed Village and instantly accepted that our relationship was deep, loving and filled with friendship. Sheila is much more than simply a wife or lover or best friend, she is an essential part of my soul and I couldn’t imagine my life without her!

    There are no “experts” that can guide us towards what we should do, or what’s acceptable, or whom we should seek out for guidance. We can only react to our internal emotions and hope that those reactions prove to be correct in the longer term.

    In our case, we were lucky and found each other. Married in 2017, our lives are filled with love, family and friendship. Sheila and I hope the same for you and Dan as you share the joys of your life together!

    Sheila & Ed Goode

    • Ed, I remember yours and Sheila’s story. How you described your relationship is exactly my definition of best-friendship: soon-to-be spouse and lover and currently an essential part of my soul.

      Thank you for your well wishes for us. Blessings!

  • Shirley Hartzler Berry says:

    Hi Marlys, so happy to hear you and Dan are getting married soon. Tom retired April 7 so we are having more time together every day– and its great! Today was house washing, but there’s more time for hikes, camping, beach time or just enjoying our yard and reading. God’s blessing to you and Dan, lots of love to you dear friend.

    • So good to hear from you, Shirley. It sounds as if you and your best friend/husband are enjoying life and adventures together. Thank you for your kind words, dear friend.

  • Richard R Kelly says:

    Wow – I didn’t realize the big day was so soon! Congratulations. Mary & I are so happy for you!

  • Peter & Barbara says:

    First, may God Bless you and keep you in ‘togetherness’, we will think of you both with a special prayer, on ‘your day’. I got to thinking of ‘What a friend we have in Jesus’ and couldn’t help that we (Barbara & I) in our oneness/togetherness, are parts of the whole as Christians in our faith and belief in Jesus. I couldn’t envisage us not being friends. Another interesting read.. stay safe and well, Our love, Bx P & family.


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About Me

Hello, my name is Marlys Johnson. I’m a speaker, award-winning writer, cancer widow, and Chai tea snob. I love getting outdoors; would rather lace up hiking boots than go shopping. I have a passion for encouraging people to live well in the hard and holy moments of life. With heart wide open.

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