“Today I marry my best friend and love of my life!”
We’ve probably all said that or heard it. For me, the latter was absolutely true on the day of our wedding. Austin was and still is the love of my life. And while at the time, I thought of him as my best friend, the reality was that Austin was one of my best friends. I spent most of my time with him, he was the only one I cried in front of, he both challenged and encouraged me, I trusted him, I loved sharing adventures with him, I could totally be myself both serious and silly. But he still wasn’t my BEST friend. Of all of my friends he was not the one and only best. The truth was, I withheld most of my spiritual life from him and almost never worked through conflict openly and honestly with my husband. I shared my spiritual life freely with my journal and a couple of my best girlfriends, and only when I absolutely had to with Austin. (I know you are wondering why not? We will get to that.) When there were issues or conflict that needed to be addressed between Austin and I, I would communicate through them with perfect clarity….again to my girlfriends. Once I had talked it through with the one or two gal pals I trusted, I would feel great. I had resolved why I felt angry or hurt and what I hoped would be different in the future…all with a friend who had absolutely nothing to do with that conflict. There was only one little problem…nothing was being resolved between my husband and me.
Two major things changed that have taken my husband from being among my best friends, to standing far above them as my very best friend, soul mate, and kindred spirit. This major transition has enriched our marriage with more unity, peace and joy than I ever imagined and certainly more than I ever knew was missing.
I became very convicted that by not sharing my spiritual life with Austin I was not allowing myself to be completely vulnerable and transparent with him. And for me that’s what both issues came down to by the way, good ole vulnerability. (I still kind of cringe at the word…but I’ve come a long way.) My lack of vulnerability, transparency, and ultimately trust; seeped over into other areas (why it was awkward for me to compliment him or why I felt like my walk with the Lord was inexplicably stagnant, just to name a couple). Without sharing the convictions, confessions, and praises of my life with the one whom I promised to love and live with every single day, I put up walls with the one person I should have been sharing the deepest fellowship with. I could tell you that all the sudden I just changed the way I functioned and it rocked…but that would be a lie. What really happened was that I forced myself to share spiritual things with Austin and when I did I felt totally awkward and stupid. But Austin noticed and was so sweet and always listened and encouraged me and never made me regret it. Over time it became more natural, it still isn’t always the easiest thing for me, but I mean it was a transition not a complete rewire.
I think the hugest (yep hugest) part of the transition from having several besties to my one best friend (Austin) and several close girlfriends, was the way that I communicated with Austin about us. I think that this part is the most important part because this is a change that many married and especially young married couples neglect. I know we did. The reason communicating through issues was so difficult was because all the communicating was going from me to a girlfriend and then only occasionally making its way to Austin in bits and pieces. I was still able to keep up walls, instead of letting them down and being honest with him, not to mention taking ownership for my own shortcomings. I trusted my girlfriends, and since they were newlyweds as well they understood. It genuinely makes me sad to recall the way that I would talk about Austin, never totally trashing him, but just painting him as someone I was opposed to rather than fighting along side of. It was kind of like, my girlfriends were on my side and we were all just trying to struggle through the early times of our marriage and sometimes that meant struggling against our husbands. I think those times with my friends always came from a good place, but not a mature or biblical place. Don’t get me wrong, marriage, especially early on, is hard and you don’t always feel like you and your spouse get along perfectly or conflict in the most healthy way—but that is something you should grow through as a couple. It took us moving across the country and me losing accessibility to all my gal pals, for me to learn this. The learning curve became much shorter when I literally did not have anyone else but Austin. I’m so thankful that God changed our path. We had been married two and half years and the way were going was working…kinda…for that short period of time, but in the long run we were setting ourselves up for failure. I’ve seen ONLY benefits of keeping issues about us between us. (There does come a time when using a mediator is necessary for some, but we have to learn to keep things open between husband and wife first and then to bring a helper into the scene when your at an impasse and need some wise counsel as a couple.) If you are like me, you still need your time to cool down and process and reflect, but the next step is vital. Things really changed for me when I made my next step communicating and reconciling with Austin with a soft heart. I love how things have changed between us. There is nothing that I avoid talking about with Austin because everything is open and we are totally united. He knows what things are hardest for me in our marriage and what things I’m strongest in. He knows when I’m hurt and challenges me when I start to shut down. No matter how much I love my close girl friends, no advice or understanding they offered could ever compare to the oneness I share with Austin. I still talk about our marriage with my friends, but it is just so much better to talk about things that are resolved and out in the open with Austin. Everything is prioritized correctly and given the right role in my life, and it feels so great. It’s so freeing!
If you find yourself dying to talk with a girlfriend about all your “issues,” I want to encourage you to take whatever steps you have to take to reverse that pattern. When your spouse truly truly is your best friend, you will be amazed how much better your entire marriage is. Go shopping or out to coffee or get a pedi with your girlfriends…that’s what they are for…but save all the intimate and personal stuff for your one and only beloved.
His mouth is most sweet,
and he is altogether desirable.
This is my beloved and this is my friend,
O daughters of Jerusalem.
Song of Solomon 5:16 ESV