Should Your Absent Spouse Be Your Best Friend?
The question everyone wants to debate: Should you regard your spouse as your best friend?
The answer: It depends on what you mean by “friends.”
The recent New York Times article by Bruce Feiler explores the question of whether or not it’s good for a person to think of their spouse as their best friend. He wants to know if a great marriage is basically a “super-friendship” or if calling your partner a “friend” is a cop-out best described with the pun “friendship with benefits.”
If your partner isn’t physically around, the question takes on a whole different level of significance.
Feiler looked at some studies. Some indicated that people who describe their partner as their best friend are much happier than people who don’t. So maybe it’s a good idea to think of your spouse like a best friend. It could make you happier.
But other psychologists see a certain danger in confusing friendship and marriage. Best friends, they say, are different than spouses because no one really expects from a friend. Friendship is simply a matter of enjoying the other person. As they see it, friendship is about acceptance. But marriage is about commitment – not just to staying in the relationship. It’s about giving to your partner as well as receiving from your partner. Read my blog post on this.
Maybe the question really hinges on the idea of love.
In TYRO JET, the question is asked: What does it mean to love? In our book, High Five Love Never Fails, we answer that question this way, “Your purpose is to make the other person better than yourself.” This defines love, and it applies to every person – not just your spouse. But it is especially true when two people are married – even if the two of you can’t be in the same place.
Don’t get caught up in the debate over whether or not your spouse should be your best friend, because it misses the point. In true friendship, each person is in the relationship to make the other person better. When this happens, the relationship is productive. It makes good things happen all around it. When this happens between two married people – that’s the best thing possible: a family. Not even physical separation can stop that.
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