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…
Nailed the landing with those last two sentences.
Haha. The Olympic spirit is alive and well…
I love to read your blogs! I’ve shared a couple of them with Tom and I finally just signed him up to follow you himself. Thanks for posting all this great stuff!
Many blessings, Colleen!
Thank God for this! I love my husband dearly, but my goodness: if I was expected to be his bff all the time, I don’t know how long we could make this marriage last without killing each other first!
I agree: we do need to have other relationships outside of our partnership. And I agree: that there is definitely a strong (and unhealthy) emphasis within the Church that our sole purpose is to find a romantic relationship, get married, and eventually procreate… (Doesn’t this sound a bit archaic!?)
I love what you say: “[the Church] 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.” This is very true. My great aunt Lois is a great testimony to this, and my family and I had the sad (and yet wonderful) opportunity this past November to celebrate the full and joy-filled life she lived as a strong, independent, and gifted single woman for 86 years.
It’s interesting, I was just having a conversation about best friends the other day. I haven’t had a best friend for years, and I guess I miss it. On the other hand, I do have some wonderful relationships with different people, plus I spend a lot of time with my young children. While my partner was not my best friend when we decided to make a life together, after 17 years, I think he is probably as close to a best friend that I have. I’m glad that’s the case, but I’m also glad he’s not my only friend.
This is almost exactly what I wanted to rage at J K Rowling for her recent commentary about how Ron and Hermione shouldn’t have gotten married(in the Harry Potter novels), because Ron couldn’t have made her happy because she is so much smarter than he is, and clearly they would have needed counseling. What an insult to every married couple out there where one member is highly educated and the other is not, who support each other in all they ways that they need, but not intellectually and so clearly, are completely failed marriages and useless to one another. /rant
Thanks for your post. It’s nice to be reminded that fulfilling needs outside the marriage is not only ok, but right and good.
I love this post! I grew up with a mom that always said, “Marry your best friend.” That’s what she did. I don’t think it’s necessarily a bad thing, but I do agree that not all needs can be met within the marriage relationship, nor should they. We give and receive different benefits when we are in relationship with all kinds of different people.
I enjoy many of your sermons. In fact, you have uplifted me, a person who has been disappointed for the last 10 years with her religion. I have been searching to find a minister, who comes anywhere close to my personal beliefs. But, I have to disagree with this prior sermon. Yes, the statement, ‘he or she is my best friend’ can be misused. I loved and cherished my husband for 42 years. During that time we both grew up together. Yes, he was my best friend. No, we did not agree on everything, but we respected each other’s opinions. With my friends, I have to take a step back and not be completely honest with them. Because they are friends who I have known for quite some time, during different stages in my life. But do I share with them my complete opinion or feelings. No. My husband was the only one I could tell everything to and not feel judged or threatened by the loss of his friendship. Yes, we did dance and danced well together. I lost him in June of last year. Now, the only true friends I have are my two sons that we raised together. But even they can’t take his place, being someone who grew up through the same years that I did.
Many condolences for the loss of your husband. Nothing can quite compare to losing your partner; this is absolutely true.
And I do think that everyone will have a slightly different reaction to this. My point is more that, for those who don’t feel that their partner is their best friend, that is OK.
I know there are many who do feel their partner is their best friend, and that is OK too. It’s just not a requirement.
Thanks for reading and commenting, and may your husband live in blessed memory!
I haven’t even finished reading this yet–I’m just too anxious to agree with you!
“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.”
YES! I need a different bestie so that when we’re too close and the hubs is getting on my nerves, I have someone to vent to, someone to relate to, someone to blow off steam with 😀 That’s what girlfriends are for!
ahem. Back to your blog entry…