My husband’s favorite author, C.S. Lewis once wrote, “Friendship … is born at the moment when one man says to another ‘What! You too? I thought that no one but myself….’”
We choose friends with whom we share common interests, common life stages, common struggles, or common personalities. There are many variables which create strong friendships; and, when we come across someone with whom we connect well, we put energy into making the friendship grow. If we have little in common with someone or find each conversation to be a struggle, we are unlikely to pursue that person as a friend.
Yet, somehow this is not always the case with romantic relationships. Physical and emotional attraction can be so powerful that they temporarily blind us to everything beneath the surface – personality, career aspirations, beliefs, worldview, culinary preferences, hobbies, and the list goes on. When boy and girl share a strong attraction, it just feels right. Many couples form a bond before any deep exploration happens, and (after a while) they think, “Wow, do we even like each other?
We Know We Can Be Lovers, But Can We Be Friends?
When choosing a spouse, it is extremely important to look for a long-term friend. No matter how beautiful your girlfriend is today, she will change. No matter how enamored you are with your boyfriend, the day is coming when his presence no longer causes your heart to skip a beat. Do you enjoy spending time with this girl? If you could not touch her at all for the next six months, would you still be interested in spending time with her? If he stopped melting you with his honeyed words, would you still want him in your life?
The longer I am married, the more convinced I am that friendship is key to a long and happy relationship. We will all lose our looks, but that is not important in a friendship. Are all of your friends beautiful? If they were suddenly unattractive, would you drop them from your life? The deep, personal connection which forms when we take the time to know someone well is far more precious than fleeting beauty.
One of the joys and blessings of marriage is companionship – having that person who sees you, knows you, and still (hopefully) likes you. As exciting as the prospect of sex may be for you and your sweetheart, married couples everywhere will tell you that physical intimacy is only a small portion of a marriage. If marriage was graphed onto a pie chart, sex would be a tiny sliver – even for the most amorous of couples. For the rest of that time, you will want to do life with someone you actually like – someone with whom you enjoy spending time.
After the passionate fires of new love die down, couples who are friends still have a whole world to experience together. Meanwhile, the attraction-only couples are left bewildered and wondering if there is any reason to continue the relationship. Friendship can lead to attraction, but attraction does not necessarily lead to friendship. Eric did not answer the description of my dream prince the first time I met him, but as our friendship grew, so did our attraction for each other.
Married couples who are friends often have tremendous sex lives because they have strong, interesting, multifaceted relationships. They live life together, have fun together, feel good together, share ups and downs together, and that bond naturally leads to the marriage bed. If you fall in love with a friend, attraction is likely to grow along with your love; but, if you are not friends, your attraction will only take you so far.
Questions to Consider
Our hope for you is that your future spouse will not only be a life partner but your most cherished friend. Someone with whom you can laugh, cry, and enjoy even the most mundane tasks. Washing dishes and cleaning bathrooms can be a pleasure when in the company of a dear friend, and the vacation of your dreams can be a nightmare when spent with a contemptuous, disgruntled spouse.
- Do you enjoy your time with your boyfriend or girlfriend?
- Can you be yourself when you are together?
- Do you have an easy time talking about deep topics and sharing ideas, or are your conversations shallow and directionless?
- If you were not dating, would you want him or her as a friend?
- Would you continue in this relationship if you could not have any physical contact until your wedding day?
Your friendship compatibility is ultimately more important than your physical compatibility. Does this person possess the same qualities you look for in non-romantic friends? If not, what is keeping you in the relationship and is it enough?
As eager as you feel to get married, take a long look into the future – new jobs, bills, house repairs, child-rearing, caring for aging parents, holidays with the others’ family… and one decision after another. Can you imagine going through all these mountains and valleys with anyone other than a dear friend? If your answer is no, please do not settle even if the temptation is great. At the heart of a solid marriage are two people who enjoy each other… and a lifelong friendship is worth the wait.
Are you and your sweetheart good friends?