Posts Tagged ‘Christian marriage’

A Lie Worth Noting:

October 13, 2012

We bring up sons and daughters to be brides and husbands

Perhaps I’m on a fault-finding roll. Or perhaps I’m just rebellious. But lately something that’s been bugging me for a long, long time, has finally come to the surface. Like a pimple. No longer a vague irritation, it’s burst through the skin for all to see.

It’s a lie, perhaps never spoken aloud, but never-the-less implied. It rages through the Body of Christ. Here it is:

My spouse should be my best friend.

I’ve heard it everywhere, from the pulpit, from the lips of guest speakers. In introductions, “Meet my wife. Stand up, honey. This is my best friend. . .”

And I want to stick my finger down my throat.

Now before you assign me to the cell for the blasphemous, let me explain what I perceive to be the dangers looming in that kind of statement. First, when a teacher or speaker says this, he implies that ALL husbands and wives SHOULD be one another’s best friends. That this is the ideal state of marriage. This implication is magnified by the kinds of promises and expectations foisted on us by well-meaning folks in Christian publishing and broadcasting. In an effort to strengthen relationships between husbands and wives, books paint pictures of rapturous hours spent together understanding and meeting one another’s deepest needs. Of husbands who completely understand their wives (an oxymoron at best), and of women who can fully relate to their man.

Publishers are pretty famous for making rash promises. Five ways to heal after adultery. Six steps to end pornography addictions. Ten steps to forgiveness. Seven ways to captivate your husband. We promise quick results at the end of a ten dollar investment and 220 pages.

And sometimes, by way of our words, we promise things that aren’t even scriptural.

By way of example. Can anyone site a scriptural admonition to be your spouse’s best friend? No? Sure, we have plenty of husband/wife admonitions. We are to mutually submit. Husbands are to love their wives. Wives are to respect their husbands. We are to care for and grow our sexual relationship together. We are to be faithful for a lifetime. Of course, all of the “one-another” commands of the New Testament apply to husbands and wives. Love one another. Pray for one another. Encourage one another.

And yes, these admonitions involve elements of friendship. But best friends? To the exclusion of others? I don’t think so. To imply that this is required of a good marriage is to “bend scripture to our own image.” It is saying far more than God himself was willing to say.

In truth, a few husbands and wives may actually be best friends. Or they may actually think they are best friends. I suspect many, many husbands and wives are good friends. My hubby is my most loyal supporter. We play well together. We talk. We share common goals. But is he my best friend? No. I am grateful to be surrounded by many good friends.

You can see that I’m not advocating an enemy status.

What I am saying is that men and women are very different. They enjoy different kinds of friendships. Men tend to do activities together. They tend to solve problems. They tend to use fewer words to express their issues. Women tend to just “be” together. They process problems rather than solve them. They tend to use many, many words in their processing. These are just some of our gender differences.

What I wonder is this: When we imply that a man should be his wife’s best friend, are we setting him up to fail in her eyes? Can he ever be the only friend she needs? The kind of friend she expects? Can he be a better friend than another woman? And when that expectation (that he should be my very best friend) is disappointed, doesn’t that set her up for the temptation of friendship offered by another man?

After all, any man can listen, empathize, praise, and flatter in the early stages of a relationship. By simply focusing on her, he promises the “friendship” she isn’t getting at home. His flattery fills the void left by unmet expectations. And the “friendship” at work grows into something clearly forbidden by scripture.

At the very least, a woman who believes that her husband “should” be her best friend, may isolate herself from the very fulfilling and healthy friendships of other women. In this way, she cuts herself off — not only from their understanding and support — but also from the support and wisdom she has available to offer other women. Instead, she may spend long hours wishing for, or waiting for more than her husband is able to provide — when what she needs is readily available to her.

The other reason this isolation is so important is that female friendships are most critical in women with difficult marriages. When a husband cannot identify with, support, or understand his wife, she can safely have those important needs met in the context of healthy female relationships. But to do so, she must have the wisdom to let go of her unreal expectations for her husband. And she must have permission to seek healthy support among safe friendships.

So what do you think? Do you agree? Have you heard the lie? Can you see other unintended consequences of this message to husbands and wives?