“Give the gift of time”
God designed marriage to be the most close and intimate of all friendships; at the most basic level, our spouse should be our best friend.
What is the most important factor for creating good friends, of any type? You might be surprised to learn that the greatest predictor of close friendships is not shared values or personality; it is geographic proximity. You’re simply closest to the people you see the most often.
It works the same in marriage. Which is why the happiest couples have learned that if they want a close marriage, they need to hang out a lot! Or at least spend time together via phone or email even if they are separated by many miles.
More than eight in ten of the happiest couples said they made it a point to spend time together at least weekly, and usually much more often. And although an official date night was nice, their “together time” was often more informal. These couples made choices like driving together to a child’s soccer practice – just to hang out. Spending Saturday morning reading the newspaper over coffee – not engaged in deep conversation, but just being together.
See a pattern? They were together. So they simply felt closer. They were better friends. Which insulated them from the inevitable shocks that hit a marriage.
Jesus points us to this same pattern; he valued close friendship, walking day to day in proximity with his twelve best friends. He told them (and us) to not just show up, but to abide in Him. John 15: 9: “Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love.” Abide. Spend time with. Both with God and with your spouse.
Time together is especially important when you are feeling distant or at odds. There is such a temptation to avoid each other, to avoid all the conflict, emotion, and irritation. But that means you’re spending less time together right when you most need a strong friendship. Instead, the happiest couples lean in to their friendship during those times. They particularly avoid the subtle-but-poisonous temptation to spend more time with those friends who support them, than with their spouse. Because that would inevitably mean that they begin to feel closer to these friends than the spouse who is supposed to be their best friend.
To have a great marriage, you don’t need to schedule candlelight dinners and stare deeply into each other’s eyes (although there’s nothing wrong with that!). But when you simply hang out together … when you carve out time for your most important relationship… when you make a point of sharing the little day-to-day moments… the results of that in your marriage are profound.
Lord, help me see and seize those little opportunities to hang out with my spouse. To be his or her best friend. Help me to see that you want me to be the person who lifts my spouse up, who comes alongside, who walks the road together. Help me be the best friend