So, I hear “I’m marrying my best friend”…and I cringe just a bit.
It’s said honestly, and I don’t mean to belittle the sentiment at all. But, just in time for V-day, perhaps knowing that you don’t have to share your bed with your best friend will provide some comfort to someone.
And I’m not against you and your partner being, in some ways, friends. Or even “best __________” in many ways.
But I do not think that you must (or maybe even should) be “best friends” with the person you marry.
You need to be great partners. You need to be great lovers. You need to be great confidants and plan out a common trajectory.
But you need a different best friend.
See, many marriages fall into the trap of “all-needs-met.”
“All-needs-met” is the syndrome where one, or both persons, in a relationship feel that all their needs will be met by this one person, in this one relationship.
And it’s just not going to happen.
Especially needs that fall within the realm of “social needs.”
Sexual needs, deep emotional needs, partnership needs…these can be met within the marriage unit.
But many friendship needs can’t, and probably shouldn’t, be met there.
Because you need to dance well together.
There was an interesting interview last night during the Olympics where a reporter was grilling a couple competing in ice dancing. She said, “We know you spend so much time together, and that you’re best friends…”
And the couple gave such a look to the woman and to one another, you’d have thought that lobsters were crawling out of the interviewer’s ears.
They weren’t best friends.
They had a deep bond, an emotional bond, and they spent a lot of time together working hard at their craft, laughing, joking, crying, helping one another up, and making beautiful movements gliding through this world.
But they weren’t best friends because they needed to dance together, and to do that well, they couldn’t be best friends.
The term “best friends” probably has a different meaning to most everyone, I think. So perhaps the confusion is on my end. I may not need to cringe when I hear it.
But, then again, perhaps it’s just a truth that needs to be named: you don’t need to be best friends to be married. In fact, maybe you shouldn’t be.
The marriage covenant is deeper than friendship. And your marriage cannot meet all your social needs.
It shouldn’t meet all your social needs.
Because you need to dance with intimacy and having/being a family and setting a common life trajectory and, well, a complex support system needs to surround you because those things are hard enough without trying to throw “being besties” in there.
And I think this confusion lies especially within the church who often sets marriage up as the container that holds all relational meaning. The church has set marriage up on this pedestal, has made it the culmination of everything and all things, and doesn’t mention enough that marriage is a call that not everyone feels, and that marriage will not satisfy every human longing within the heart.
We all need friends, I would say “best friends,” outside of marriage. And we all need to know that that is OK. It does not make your marriage anything less to say that your spouse is not your best friend.
They are more important than that. They are your partner. They are your lover. They are your family.
They don’t have to be your bff even if you have covenanted to be together forever.
Because you have to dance together, and even in dancing you need a certain amount of distance between the people to do it well.
Otherwise you’re just tripping over one another…