One Easy Way to Strengthen Friendship in Marriage
Guest contributor Ashleigh Slater, AshleighSlater.com
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If you haven’t invested time into strengthening your friendship in marriage, here’s one creative way to get started.
It was a fairly simple activity. At least, it should have been.
To remember back to the early days of our relationship and share with our church small group the name of “our song” at the time.
The message from our pastor that week had been on marriage. So our discussion that evening followed suit. While Ted and I normally facilitated the conversation, this time we’d asked one of the other couples to. And frankly, they put us to shame. When it comes to small group leading, I want to be them when I grow up.
Unfortunately, when it came to this task, Ted and I had a small problem. We didn’t really have a song back then.
Sure, we both loved music. We even listened to it together. A lot. But we weren’t exactly the type of couple you’d find hitting the dance floor on our evenings out. No, we were more likely to be at the local Italian hole-in-the-wall swapping stories over caprese salad and tiramisu.
Yet, we weren’t going to let this minor issue keep us from participating. While we may not have had a significant “us” tune at the time, what we did have was a first dance at our wedding. Obviously, that dance was accompanied by a song. A song, I’m embarrassed to admit, that was selected by our live musicians, not by us. The thing is, if Ted and I did have “a song,” this one would have to do.
Here’s where we hit a slightly bigger problem, though.
We couldn’t recall its name. Not even after an extensive google search on my iPhone of all big band era songs, which was the style of music we’d had at our reception. I suppose rewinding over eleven years, four little girls, and a handful of states was just more than our memories could handle.
Go ahead, laugh at us. We’ll laugh with you. Ha. There. Let’s continue.
Once we got home, Ted had to pull up the video of our first dance. And there it was. Our song: “I Only Have Eyes for You.” Hours of research, and we finally identified it.
Fortunately, the small group “homework” we were given proved much easier for us. We were asked to decide together what song best describes our marriage now. It took us all of two minutes to pick “You’ve Got a Friend in Me.”
And not just because we watch a lot of Pixar films. Though we do. See four paragraphs above, where I mention that we have four little girls.
Anyway, it may not strike you as a terribly romantic tune, seeing that it was written as the theme song for a computer-animated film about enemies turned best buds, but seriously it is. That is, once you banish the image of a talking cowboy doll and a space ranger action figure from your head.
Pause with me and ponder the lines “there isn’t anything I wouldn’t do for you” and “none of them will ever love you the way I do.” These phrases speak of undying affection and loyalty. I don’t know about you, but those are qualities I want to characterize my marriage. Sacrifice. Devotion.
Not only that, but this song seemed a perfect fit because for Ted and me, friendship is foundational. Both of us would agree that it’s a big factor — second only to our shared faith in Jesus — in why our marriage has remained strong and steady the last eleven years.
Pardon my getting all philosophical here, but, when it comes to the importance of friendship, Aristotle recognized its lifelong benefits back in the 300 BC’s. He wrote, “In poverty and other misfortunes of life, true friends are a sure refuge. The young they keep out of mischief; to the old they are a comfort and aid in their weakness, and those in the prime of life they incite to noble deeds.” Who better to be counted as a true friend than our spouse.
What about you? How’s your friendship with your spouse? Would you consider yourselves what Aristotle termed “true friends”? No? If you haven’t invested the time you should into building and maintaining this aspect of your relationship, it’s not too late. Here’s one creative way to get started.
Grab some paper, a couple crayons (or pens, if that’s your thing), and head to a park or your favorite coffee shop. Once there, create your own war room. What do I mean by that? Well, in my book Team Us: The Unifying Power of Grace, Commitment, and Cooperation in Marriage, I talk about how for Ted and me it was a time early in our relationship when we sat down together to strategically and intentionally brainstorm how we wanted our interactions to develop. You can do the same when it comes to friendship in your marriage.
First, make individual lists of what you value most in a close friend. Transparency. Acceptance. Fun. That sort of thing.
Then, share them with each other. Talk about how these qualities might manifest themselves in your relationship, then how you can further develop and cultivate them.
You may just discover that this activity alone does a lot to feed and inspire your friendship with each other. Just make sure you don’t stop here. Go on to look for creative ways you can practice those items on your lists regularly and consistently. Take a leisurely, talkative, walk. Fly a kite together. Join forces to make dinner. That sort of thing. You get the idea.
Here’s the thing: If you’re not happy with how your song is playing out, it’s not too late to change your tune.
And who knows, maybe like Ted and me, the next time you happen to hear a certain Pixar tune, you’ll find yourselves exchanging a knowing glance. And maybe even a wink.
THIS WEEK’S CHALLENGE
Carve out some time to spend together. Do something that takes your minds off of screen time. Then make it a habit.
BIBLE READING FOR THE WEEK
R – 1 Samuel chapters 16-20
E – Expand on questions you might have as you’re reading (dig deep and take notes).
A – Ask yourself how you can apply this scripture to your marriage.
D – Decide if there are any changes you need to make or actions you need to take.
For our reading assignment this week, I chose to focus on the relationship between David and Jonathan. Although this wasn’t a romantic relationship, their friendship teaches us a lot about humility, self-sacrifice, and love.
While Jonathan may have been next in line to be king, he stepped aside to allow God’s will to be done. He didn’t despise God’s choice or hold a grudge against David. He courageously and humbly supported his friend.
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. – Philippians 2:3-4
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Ashleigh Slater is the author of the book, Team Us: The Unifying Power of Grace, Commitment, and Cooperation in Marriage and Braving Sorrow Together: The Transformational Power of Faith and Community When Life Is Hard.
In her writing, she loves to unite the power of a good story with biblical truth and practical application to encourage readers. For more information visit AshleighSlater.com.
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