How to Nurture the Friendship in Your Marriage

My husband and I have been best friends for seventeen years. We’ve been by each other’s side through tragedies, victories and everything in between. We’ve watched each other grow and we’ve helped mold each another into the adults we are today. Like every relationship we’ve had our ups and downs. They’re times we feel like we’re in love with each other and other times where we struggle to like each other.What gets us through the tougher times is our relationship with God and putting His Word into practice. There are clear principles we can find on marriage in the Bible that we can use to save the friendships within our marriages.

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Prov 31:11 “Her husband can trust her, and she will greatly enrich his life.  Photo credit: Bella Mena Photography

1. Know Your Spouse. I realize this may sound like an odd principle, although I’ve often come across husbands and wives that have been married for years and still don’t really know each other. In 1 Peter 3:7, God speaks to the husbands (wives, too) to live with their spouses according to knowledge. God is telling us we need to get to know our spouse! If I study my husband and get to know his triggers and motivators, I can learn how to effectively communicate with him. I can learn how to address particular topics that cause his guard to go up with sensitivity. In other cases, I can approach him with passion and boldness and he wouldn’t be offended at all, rather stirred up in a positive way. God knew what he was saying, when he said we should get to know our spouses. 

Understandably, every couple is different because we’re all unique individuals. Nonetheless, there’s certain stereotypical traits among men and women. For example: girls like to talk and guys are straight to the point. Ironically, I often feel in my relationship with my husband, we are the exception to the rule. My husband loves to give me the details in his conversations. God forbid if I interrupt him. I’d have to hear the entire story again from the beginning! I’ve certainly learned to keep my mouth shut. I on the other hand love to be direct. I’m literally thinking what are the least amount of words I can use to get my point across. I think God must get a kick out of  watching how my husband and I communicate.Since I’ve made the effort to understand and know my husband, it’s helped us communicate effectively, and treasure our friendship. I let him share every detail, so he can get his point across. He leaves my presence, like that of a friend, feeling heard and confident in my feedback.

There are a couple of good resources out there I’d like to recommend to you to help you get to know your spouse:

  1. The Flag Page with Laugh Your Way is an excellent resource provided by Mark Gungor. It’s basically a personality test but the results are very insightful! It interprets ways to motivate your spouse or methods you should avoid and so much more. Juan and I learned a lot about ourselves and each other after taking the test and reading the accompanied book. Also, Mark Gungor has a unique method of breaking down the differences between men and women in his book “Laugh Your Way to a Better Marriage.” It is an easy and discerning read. He’s comical and he doesn’t badger the husbands-something I noticed husbands tend to feel after attending a marriage seminar or reading a marital book.
  2. Gary Chapman’s Five Love Languages is a very popular and wide-spread book, but it’s helped thousands of relationships, including mine. Learn to speak the love language of your spouse and you’ll be able to connect to your spouse on a deeper, more intimate level. No doubt you’ll grab their attention.
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1 Peter 3:1-2 “…Then even if some refuse to obey the Good News, your godly lives will speak to them without any words. They will be won over by observing your pure and reverent lives.” Photo credit: Bella Mena Photography

I often get asked how did you get your husband to agree to reading that book, or attending that seminar or going to that marriage class. Honestly, it has nothing to do with something clever I said. Although I’m sure there are some persuasive ways out there to motivate our husbands to participate. For me, it had to do more with prayer, faith and staying faithful to a ministry that speaks about every area of marriage: sex, conflict, friendship, and so on. After time, my husband was exposed to examples of better marriages within our fellowship; and it developed in him a desire to learn more and experience a more fulfilling marriage.

 2. Be Mindful How You Speak to Your Spouse. My Pastor, Dr. Philip G. Goudeaux, once spoke a message about how we address our spouses in conversations can greatly affect their confidence in us. He questioned our approach: “Do you speak to the King or Queen in your spouse? Or are you talking to the fool-they’re acting like?” His point was: even though our spouse may act like a fool, speak to them like a King/Queen. In other words, draw out the better side of your spouse in your conversation. If we keep talking to them like a fool, they’ll keep acting like one. In Proverbs 14:1, God speaks to the wives (husbands, too) that wise women build up their homes (husbands, marriage, children, etc.). Let’s build up our spouses by using wisdom, lift them up with our words, and not tear them down.

Keep in mind, no one likes to be belittled or disparaged. If we want to nurture the friendship within our marriage we need to be friendly. To put it simply, Prov 18:24 says, A man who has friends must himself be friendly,…”. Sometimes we’ve become so comfortable with our spouses, we treat them with the least amount of respect when they deserve it most. After all they do put up with us every day! Let’s be careful not to be overly critical of our spouses. As we know, it’s difficult to be around someone who is consistently negative, fault-finding, complaining, or nagging. People like to be around others who make them feel good, not discouraged or judged. If you desire your spouse to want to be around you, then be friendly. Compliment your spouse, encourage them, acknowledge their efforts (even when they’re imperfect); and rekindle the peace, joy and comfort it is to be in each others presence.

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Photo credit: Bella Mena Photography

3.Timing is Everything. Appropriate timing is critical when it comes to marriage! It wouldn’t make sense for my husband to tell me something very important when I’m balancing between our two kids and they’re screaming in my ears.  Nor would it be wise for me to share my deepest sentiments when he just walked through the door from work. A bigger trap is trying to reason with our spouses when we’re frustrated. We know we’re not going to get anywhere in the conversation when we’re both closed off and have walls up! It’s better to set aside time to discuss the frustration after we’re both calm.

A friend once asked me: “Do you tell your husband everything?” I wanted to immediately respond with: “Yes, of course! He’s my best friend!” However, there are times I’ve had to use wisdom and hear God say “Not yet, Angelita!” or “Tell me instead. I’ll take care of it.” Proverbs 15:23 tells us, “A man finds joy in giving an apt reply—and how good is a timely word!” It’s certainly rewarding when a controversial conversation with our spouse goes well. 

4. Reconcile Conflicts. Early in my relationship with my husband we discovered the importance of reconciling our conflicts. It’s hard to ignore the pain or hurt that is eating away at your heart.Unfortunately, the enemy doesn’t play fair and he will let that incident rehearse in your mind over and over, magnifying the pain. Before you know it, bitterness and anger is separating you from your spouse. So we apply Principle#3: Timing is Everything, and we set a date or time to discuss the concerns we need to work through. It allows us to apply the scripture: Eph 4:26 ” And “don’t sin by letting anger control you.” Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry.”  Even if we cannot get to a concern on the same day, we are confident and trust one another to know it’s a priority to the both of us to reconcile and we’ll work on it.

I found this well-written paragraph in an article written by Covenant Keepers. I love how it breaks down what can happen if we don’t resolve our conflicts with our spouse.

“Unresolved conflicts greatly destroy marital friendship and intimacy. Each unresolved conflict must be seen as one brick in an imaginary wall that divides your marriage. When you refuse to reconcile each issue you only build the wall that divides you higher and higher. If this wall-building continues, eventually you will have little or no relationship with each other. Therefore, you must continually seek to reconcile all those issues that you have suppressed or avoided in your relationship. Be assured that the moment you begin to hold resentment and bitterness in your heart, the friendship and intimacy will immediately begin to disappear. This is true in all relationships.”

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Photo credit: Bella Mena Photography

Take the time to hear the heart of your spouse even when its tough. Perhaps you may end the conversation with agreeing to disagree but at least it’s resolved. You can respect each other’s differences, learn more about your spouse and avoid any bitterness to develop in your relationship. In every relationship there’s conflict but we with love we can conquer it all (1 Peter 4:8, 1 Cor 13)!

5. Spend Time Together. C.S. Lewis once stated about friendship: “It is when we are doing things together that friendship springs up — painting, sailing ships, praying, philosophizing, and fighting shoulder to shoulder. Friends look in the same direction.” It’s true! Most of our relationships developed over a collective activity or hobby; similar interests were discovered and the makings of a friendship transpired. It doesn’t have to stop now that you’re married. Sure life pulls us in every direction but don’t let it pull you away from the one you vowed to spend it with. Discover the things your spouse loves to do and do them with them! It may surprise your spouse at first but it will spark a romance and will reignite your friendship.

Remember anything is possible when you’re believing for your friendship in your marriage to grow! It’s never too late for any marriage! Joel 2:25 tells us God can restore anything that is broken, flawed or eroding away. It will require work but like in any relationship, but if you want it to grow, you will need to invest in it.

I’m praying for you!

Want to read more on Marriage? Check out How to Build Teamwork in Your Marriage or What Kind of Marriage is Worth Fighting For?

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Photo credit: Bella Mena Photography

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