Everywhere I look recently I see marriage advice telling me that I need to be friends with my husband for the marriage to work. My husband isn’t my best friend so I panicked and dived into the research. In my parents, time advice came from a religious pre-matrimonial counseling.
Later on, when a marriage was getting shaky it would come from a marriage guidance counselor. Most of the husbands at the time seemed to have been against it in principle. Anyway, neither of those worked for my parents because they divorced when I was a teenager.
There is advice everywhere.
Now there are books and counselors and readily accessible advice. Here’s the bottom line, roughly half of them say the couple needs to be friends to make a marriage work and half of them say they don’t.
The main reason seems to be that the friendship endures after the sex wears off. But what if the sex only wears off because the friendship takes the sense of attraction away. What if the sexual attraction waning is actually a sign that the couple is no longer working?
Who is right then?
The answer is that like life, it is different for everybody. And being in a couple must be the most difficult, enlightening and truly transforming relationship that we have in our lives. Probably what we learn through our relationships is the most important thing we do in our life. We spend most of our lives in relationships.
Some people spend up to fifty years in a marriage and others don’t even last a year after taking their vows. Some breakups scar people for life, especially if there are children involved. Couples can come from different economic backgrounds, different cultures, and different continents. T
hey need to reconcile all these differences to make their partnership work. In the beginning, romantic love makes a bridge across the many differences. Later on, when that first flush of romantic love is wearing off, what will keep the couple stable?
Some of the experts say that it is friendship
But I believe, along with the other half of the experts, that a marriage needs space between the spouses, that we don’t need to be friends to make the marriage work. Khalil Gibran wrote some beautiful words about marriage in 1923. “But let there be spaces in your togetherness, And let the winds of the heavens dance between you.”
This space gives you time on your own to find your own measure of energy and passion. It gives you the time to understand yourself better and to find your own personal fulfillment.
The old folk saying, “absence makes the heart grow fonder” has a flip side, which is “familiarity breeds contempt”. Spending time apart allows desire to grow. Couples do sex and friends do friendship. Good sex is the cement that keeps couples together. Good sex is grown from good communication. We need to learn how to communicate our sexual needs. Good sex also comes from understanding our own sexuality and being able to communicate our needs and desires. We don’t need to be friends to communicate we need to be honest.
What else does a marriage involve?
It’s a partnership two people enter into, a road that leads to our own personal transformation. For a marriage to succeed there should be respect, a degree of mutual nurturing and self-sufficiency. Having some good friendships outside of the relationship helps keep your marriage alive. So, keep your friends for sharing things that you don’t share with your husband, but don’t panic if your husband isn’t your friend.