One of the keys to a happy marriage is to have the same ingredients in the relationship that are present in a friendship. The love story given in the Song of Solomon reflects this when the bride refers to her husband as she talks to her friends – “…This is my beloved, and this is my friend, O daughters of Jerusalem.” (Song of Solomon 5:16)
Part of the simplicity of the relationship in the honeymoon phase of marriage is that it is characterized by the freshness of friendship love. The qualities of friendship will enhance any marriage. In fact, if you have a better friend than your husband or wife, your marriage is in trouble!
When Israel strayed from God, God told his preacher, Jeremiah to, “…Go and cry in the ears of Jerusalem, saying, Thus saith the LORD; I remember thee, the kindness of thy youth, the love of thine espousals…” (Jeremiah 2:2) They had gotten away from their “first love” they had for the Lord. It had become stale, predictable and lost the kindness that once defined it.
Have you noticed that many times people treat their friends better than their family members? Oh, they still love their family, but not like they used to. One of the causes of the decline is that the qualities that formerly caused them to be friends have declined.
When we assume upon what it means to be a friend and enjoy the benefits, but fail to take the time to consider what it means to be a friend, we cannot restore what is missing when those qualities are not present.
What are the characteristics that mark a friendship? Friends do behave in certain ways.
For example, “A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly…” (Proverbs 18:24)
God speaks to the matter of friendship in the Bible so that we can be better friends . These traits and responsibilities can be applied to our families as well. They deepen our joy and help us to build a stronger relationship.
Yes, I know above all that marriage is a covenant and is based on unconditional love. Those truths are foundational to a lasting and happy marriage above all. But I also know that when I met Paula that we were friends before we were husband and wife. And I have treasured that aspect of our relationship and missed it when we let some part of it slide.
One of the greatest joys and blessings of life is to have good friends. Even better is it to have a mate that is your dearest friend and to have your children to become your friends. I believe our failure to understand the dynamics of friendship causes us to some degree to forfeit the intimacy and joy God wants us to experience in our family.
In the next several posts I’ll share some of these qualities. I hope that they will encourage and strengthen the friendship aspect of your relationship with your family members.