When Tim and I met, it was pretty close to “love at first sight.” Within weeks we knew that this was good, and God gave us green lights to move forward towards engagement. Within a year of our first “hello,” we were married. Oh…and then months later, we found out we were going to be parents. Unlike some, Tim and I did not have a foundation of friendship that had been built upon for years. And we had real obstacles to growing that friendship when we jumped into being parents, as well.
How were we going to carve out time for our friendship to grow before all the other roles and responsibilities started to compete for our attention?
Through our journey of becoming better friends over the last five years, I share some ideas to strengthen your friendship with your significant other whether you are starting your relationship or have been married for fifteen years.
How is your friendship with your spouse different than other friendships?
Your friendship is forever. It represents a variety of seasons in your life. For “richer or poorer, in sickness and in health;” they will witness the best days and the weakest moments of your life. Your friends may love you and your quirks, but they did not make a covenant with you and God to be united as “one” for the rest of your days. This divine friendship will demonstrate Jesus’ example of “laying your life down” for one another in ways that are unlike your other friendships.
Why do we build friendships with our spouse?
A romantic relationship with your spouse is special, holy. Yet, the physical aspect of your relationship is not enough to sustain a healthy marriage. Your marriage is a partnership, a ministry, a safe haven. So, there needs to be equal time devoted to growing all the different aspects of your relationship.
What lacks in your friendship with your spouse?
It’s important to assess where you may have become lazy in your friendship. You see or talk to this person every day, so it is easy to forget about pursuing them as friends. I know for Tim and me it is always a challenge to pursue quality conversation over surface-level hellos. Maintaining a relationship that is less about you and more about another person is challenging but also full of joy when we experience a meaningful connection. Talk about it together and make a plan to work on specific areas of growth.
Sustainable friendship habits with your spouse:
Say Thank You
Who would have thought that we would ever stop being grateful for our BFF to the F-teenth power? When I verbally say thank you, gratitude grows in my heart and pushes out the bitterness we experience in our marriage. It never gets easier so don’t forget to say thank you.
Put the phones away
Leave them behind. They are just a third “person” snuggling their way in-between your ability to grow as friends. Sometimes, Tim and I leave our phones in the glovebox of the car when we go on a dinner date—eliminating all temptation. Don’t be afraid to hold one another accountable to screen time.
Take Turns Choosing Your Activity
It’s okay that Tim doesn’t love everything I love. On Saturdays, I want to get up early and start the to-do list, go on a hike and then read books in a coffee shop afterwards. Tim would prefer to have a relaxed brunch followed by a nap. Sometimes, I slide my to-do list back into my dresser and let Tim sleep a little longer because I know he feels loved when he gets to cuddle with me and Hunter in bed. And other days, he gets dressed, grabs the hiking backpack and lets me listen to country music on the drive to a new hike. It’s important for us to do what the other person likes without complaining.
Give each other space to develop and come back healthier
When we develop ourselves as individuals, we come back healthier and ready to engage as a couple. Make time to go on a weekend retreat with your church or take a nice long coffee date with a good friend. When you jump back into your regular routine, you are refreshed, filled up and ready to pour more into your relationship.
Pray and Read Your Bible Together
Do it as often as you can.
Date Ideas to become better friends with your spouse
Each year we sit down and talk about individual, marriage and family goals together. This is something we will work through on a weekend and creates a meaningful connection as we support the growth in one another. We help one another process individual goals, as well as, find a shared vision for the growth of our family.
Serving together brings us closer together. Seeing Tim serve others with his God-given gifts is SEXY! That’s right! Seeing Tim serve outside our home reminds me of all the things that make him, Tim. It reminds me that he is a unique individual outside of being a husband or dad. Finding ways to serve in your local community is a beautiful way to see the other person “doing their thing” outside of your home.
Seems like a strange one but, double dates can be a great time to learn from other couples. We really enjoy asking other couples how they are finding time to grow together to learn from marriages we see that are healthy and thriving.
If we never talk about our expectations or areas of need in our friendship with our spouse, then how will we ever create a game plan to move forward together? Take some time to be honest with each other on the level of depth in your friendship and pinpoint some areas of growth to connect and create meaning in your relationship.