One of the most beautiful things to witness in couples who have been married for decades is the incredible friendship they’ve forged through their years together. Maybe you’ve watched that in your parents’ marriage or other couples—the way they can make one another laugh with just a word or a look, or the joy they get from just being in each other’s presence. It’s a joy to see and certainly a blessing to experience in a marriage.
But friendship in marriage isn’t easy—in fact, I bet most of these beautiful couples would say it’s taken a lot of work to get to where they are at today. Courtney Joseph, over at Women Living Well Ministries, shares 8 ways couples can maintain friendship in their marriage. Here are just a few key points she shares:
1. Great Communication. Often, this just means making the time for conversation to happen—eating dinner together without distraction, for example. Great communication doesn’t happen without intentionality.
2. Great Listening. Obviously this goes with point one. We can’t have great communication if we’re not listening well. Asking questions and making a point to remember what we’re told can go a long way in our relationships.
3. Loyalty. "My parents are always on each other’s side," Courtney explains. "If someone is treating one of them poorly – the other one is always loyal to counsel them well and support them."
4. Reliability. Knowing you can count on your spouse is so important. Being a man or woman of integrity and following through on your word isn’t just something your spouse should be able to count on, but it’s also a character trait you should strive for in all of your relationships.
5. Memory Building. "My parents make memories together," says Courtney. "They plan special vacations, outings with the grandkids, and fun holidays. My father takes a lot of pictures and my mom makes albums out of them for the kids so the memories are captured forever. They value making special memories for each other."
6. Shared Values and Faith. You won't agree on everything, but agreeing over the big things like faith and values will help you settle smaller problems when they arise.
7. Support Each Other's Ministries. Give grace when ministry commitments mean less time at home (within reason). Encourage the gifts and talents of your spouse and urge them to make use of those gifts to the best of their ability. Offer helpful and encouraging feedback. Praise them for the good work they’re doing in their ministry.
8. Keep Short Accounts. This may be the most important! Extending grace and forgiveness can be hard, but remembering that God has forgiven your sins can help put into perspective the shortcomings of your spouse. (This should go without saying, but I’ll say it anyway: we’re not talking abuse here. If your spouse is abusive toward you, you need to seek help).
In Romans, Paul encourages believers to “outdo one another in showing honor.” (12:10, NRS) I love the implications for this not only in the greater Christian community but in our own marriages as well. If we make it our aim to put the needs of our spouse above our own, beautiful things will result. But in order to do that well, Christ be our ultimate and full satisfaction—we must be filled by Him so that we can pour out on our spouse the love God calls us to give.
Kelly Givens is the editor of iBelieve.com.