OK, now for the second criterion on the list of essential criteria for my husband – perhaps in this case, it would be more appropriate to say “essential criteria for my marriage”. And that is simply that he has to be my friend, or rather that we have to be friends. Last week, I explained that my first criterion that I spoke of was not actually the first thing that I prayed about, but rather the least. However, I do at least pray for it.
However, in the case of friendship, perhaps I’m a little complacent. It’s never something I think to pray for. I guess I take it for granted that I’ll pray for that within the marriage, or that when the time comes to move boldly into marriage, we’ll already be friends of course, otherwise why would be thinking about marriage?!
Firstly, let me talk about why it is important that he and I should be friends, if it needs to be explained.
When I say “we have to be friends”, I mean that we have to be able to talk honestly. I have to like him as an individual person, and respect his character. It is not just a matter of being romantically attracted to him, although that is non-negotiable. I’m here wondering whether I should actually have posted *this* as my first criterion. However, I would not marry someone just because he is my friend. If I considered marriage as a necessity of life, then perhaps yes, it would make sense to list friendship as the top criterion. However, I DONT consider marriage as a life necessity – highly desirable, and at least in my case, deeply longed for, but still not mandatory. So if I have a great friendship with someone, but no attraction, then I’m very happy for it to remain simply a great friendship, even if I never marry anyone else.
Have you ever seen any couples where you get the sense that they are not really friends? They share everything together including incomes and children, but they don’t seem to really like one another? Perhaps there is no active dislike as such, but they seem to be indifferent to one another as individuals? This is what I want to avoid in my own marriage. I want to know, and regard, and respect and admire (deeply!) my husband as an individual, not only in terms of his being my husband. On the other hand, a few months ago I had the privilege of sitting close to a couple, admittedly newly-weds, who were clearly deeply in love. They clearly liked and admired one another as individuals, and it showed in the way they spoke to one another. They smiled as they looked into one another’s eyes – smiles of admiration and respect. I was so impressed. They were (and remain) the sort of couple who would walk around holding hands. Out of all the newly-wed couples I have ever seen, there was something different about this couple. I think that many times many people, including I, have made the mistake of thinking that this behaviour is due to romantic attraction. However, I have also seen couples who were clearly deeply attracted to one another before marriage, and a few weeks after marriage barely seemed to be talking. I now think/believe that this behaviour is actually due to genuine friendship and genuinely liking and admiring another person plus attraction.
Also, have you ever met anyone who seemed to be interested in you only in terms of a romantic relationship, and not as an individual? That is, sometimes someone *indicates*, shall we say. When you subtly turn them down, then they seem to lose all interest in you. They no longer notice you, they no longer greet you – it all ends. This to me suggests someone who was not interested in me as a person, but only rather as a potential spouse – that is, only interested in me in relation to how I would fit into their life. This is not a great basis for being a friend to your spouse.
OK, now I’m going to look at another area – which might be more pertinent for me – that is, cultivating friendship with anyone you are *checking out*, if you know what I mean! If you don’t know what I mean, what I mean is that when you are looking around, trying to assess who could be a good match for you – trying to build a real friendship with anyone who could be a viable contender. What then happens with me, whenever my thoughts start getting concentrated towards a certain individual, is that I start giving off my “Queen of Awkward” vibes – and create a forcefield of awkwardness around myself – but only ever in relation to the guy in question. So I’m absolutely fine and unawkward with absolutely everyone else. If he has started giving out vibes of his own, then this just multiplies the effect. Then to just be friends, to talk, to get to know one another, is so difficult! In a way, it would be great if I could acknowledge the awkwardness, but then you would have to acknowledge the reason why (the reason I am awkward with you and only you in the entire church), and it would sound a little as if you are asking them out, and you’re still not 100% sure whether they are THE one, and as a woman I would not be the one to be asking them out anyway…
Perhaps I should just post a notice on my Facebook wall – “Dear Holy and Handsome young Christian man, I’m sorry for doing my awkwardness thing to you – honestly, please believe me, I cannot help it! Yes, I have OF COURSE noticed that you miraculously appear to be single, and yes I have OF COURSE been checking you out, and to be blunt, yes, you do seem to fit the bill so far! However, I’d love to put all of this to the side, and get to know you as a person, whatever may or may not happen – what do you say?!”
OK, so this is what I am going to start praying for – praying that God would grant an unawkward, but rather honest friendship with anyone who could end up being Mr Huggie-Wuggie. And if you are male and Christian and single, then please just expect me to behave a little awkwardly towards you – please don’t take it personally! 😉
A quick addition – some basic ingredients for great friendship:
Mutual trust, which must be based on excellent character of both parties;
Communication, sharing, needing a little mutual vulnerability;
Having things in common? Part of me thinks that a deep commitment to God should be more than enough in common for any two people, (after all God is the biggest Person or thing that there is, so He is the most significant thing that any two people could have in common- (I know God is not “a thing”!)) – but I don’t know whether that is an extremely naive way of thinking…;
Emotional and intellectual compatibility….;
Willingness to like and be liked, to make an effort, to invest into the friendship! 😉
12 Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; 13 bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. 14 But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection.
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