One of the great romances in the Bible is pictured for us in the Old Testament book of the Song of Solomon. King Solomon and his Shulamite wife had a relationship that many married couples would love to enjoy. What was at the core of this romantic relationship? The Shulamite revealed one of the key ingredients. She declared concerning her husband, “This is my beloved, and this is my friend” (Song 5:16). Friendship was clearly at the foundation of their marital relationship and the driving force behind their romance.
You may be asking, “How can I build this type of friendship with my spouse? Are there specific things I can do that will promote friendship? How can I become a better friend to my marriage partner?” As you read the following pages, examine your relationship and determine where you need to make some adjustments so that you and your spouse might become the best of friends.
1. Be a friend. Solomon gave one of the simplest and wisest bits of counsel on the subject of friendship when he said, “A friend loves at all times” (Prov. 17:17). Love is more than a feeling or an emotion; it is an action that you take. It is commitment. Love always acts in a friendly manner toward others. True friendship is created and maintained by the practical action of love. Are you showing this quality of friendship to your spouse, or are you critical, independent, or resentful? The way you are behaving toward your mate will have a lot to do with how he or she will respond. The Bible declares “Whatever a man sows, that he will also reap” (Gal. 6:7). Consequently, you must first consider your own actions to determine if you are being a good friend or not. Jesus also taught this principle of friendship when He said, “Whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them…” (Matt. 7:12). Therefore, what are you doing to show your partner that you want to be a friend?
In order to be fair to those of you who are trying with all your heart to be a good friend to your spouse I’d like to say this: there are some people who are so hard-hearted that they will resist all attempts to show them love. Remember, Jesus came as a friend to His own people and they rejected His love and eventually crucified Him. Therefore, don’t think it strange if your friendship is rejected at times. Just be sure that you are not the unfriendly one and that you are reaching out in friendship to your mate on a regular basis. If you are then rejected, your conscience will be clear because you have tried.
2. Spend time together communicating on a daily basis. One of the characteristics of true friendship is that friends talk a lot together. They usually spend a lot of time with one another. Friends enjoy just being with each other and sharing the things that they have in common. They can laugh together, comfort one another, and confide in each other their hopes and fears. When is the last time you sat down with your spouse over a cup of coffee and discussed how you really felt about your job, your church, your ministry, or your relationship with Christ? There is tremendous joy to be found in communicating about the things that matter most to you. Why not take the time to get off alone, just the two of you, and share a meal together where this depth of fellowship might occur. Solomon’s wife described this joy of communication when she said to her husband, “Let me see your countenance, let me hear your voice; for your voice is sweet, and your countenance is lovely” (Song 2:14). Solomon, as well, was quite verbally expressive to his wife (4:1-15; 6:4-10; 7:1-9). To experience the friendship and romance that this couple possessed, you must spend the time to communicate.
Jesus strongly believed that communication was essential for friendship with His disciples: “No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you” (John 15:15). He had more than a master-slave relationship with His disciples; it was a relationship of love and friendship. Yes, we are His servants, but we are more than that. We are His friends. Jesus called the disciples His friends because He had made known all things to them. All that He had heard from His Father He had communicated to them. In other words, He considered real friends worth talking to about all the things on His heart.
The opposite is also true. The less you talk to a friend, the more distant your relationship grows. Think of friends that have moved away and you have failed to keep in contact with them. What happens? The distance in miles translates into a distance in relationship. The only way to bridge this distance is by writing and calling them, and the friendship continues.
In addition, you have to be able to communicate to your friend in a loving manner about the weaknesses that affect both of you. This is also an essential part of friendship. Gentle confrontation through wholesome communication will only deepen your friendship. Solomon said, “Open rebuke is better than love carefully concealed. Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful” (Prov. 27:5,6). If your friend sees you about to do something that could harm you, he or she would naturally try to stop you. Sometimes this causes hurt feelings, but your friend is actually being faithful to you. A true friend will rebuke you at times simply because you are friends and because friendship requires truthfulness.
If you desire to grow as friends and to see the romance in your marriage increase, you must increase truthful communication. This requires that you set time aside to encourage growth in this area. Ask God for an honesty to be able to talk about all things. Remembering to speak the truth in love will enable you both to avoid any conflicts that may result. Don’t miss the joy to be found in communicating with your spouse!
Follow this link to read Pastor Steve Carr’s previous series on Growing in Harmony With Your Spouse.