The entire span of a life can be an awful long time to spend with someone that you don’t like. Out of all the marriage advice I could give, I think one piece remains at the top: marry your best friend.
A few weeks ago, Chad and I were out with friends on a Friday night. The beer was good, the shuffle board was fun, and it was nice to joke around with our buddies. There was even a visiting dog that I got to give lots of hugs and scratches to.
At one point during the night, there was an interesting exchange. We were talking about how I just told the dog that I loved him (I mean, I do!), which led to a story about how I tell most dogs that they’re my best friend and Chad always gets a jokingly offended look on his face and makes a comment about how he must be chopped liver.
In reply to our story, our friend, who’s extremely confident, let us know that, “your spouse isn’t your best friend. I know that’s what they say in books, or whatever, but those are two separate relationships.”
Chad and I both took an opportune sip of our beers, exchanged a look, and gratefully dove into a subject change. I mean, this friend’s wife was sitting right next to him, and we didn’t want to make it a thing.
But, it is a thing. Right? It’s a big thing.
I Was Like That Too
I’ll admit that I used to think something similar—that a relationship should be kept separate from friendships. It’s hard not to entertain the idea, especially with so many media examples of women who form girl-gangs that last longer than any romantic entanglements and promote platonic soul mates as just as important, if not more. (Sex and the City, I’m talking about you.)
And sure, that can be true. I’ll never say that you should abandon your friends when you start dating someone or get married. I think a good partner will both understand space and also know how and when to join in, so that it becomes less about deciding who to prioritize and more about melding relationships.
However, this idea that a spouse cannot be your best friend is absurd.
It’s reinforcing a concept that there are areas of your life that a spouse isn’t allowed to access. That you reserve a piece of who you are for someone outside your marriage—maybe silliness, understanding, loyalty, connection. You create a barrier between yourself and your partner, so that the highest levels of intimacy remain separate.
Your best friend is your favorite person. That’s what it means. And if your spouse, the person you’re sharing your entire world with, isn’t that? Whew. I recommend tossing that framework aside and not letting labels get in the way of loving your partner fully and completely.
Your Life Will Change
Allowing Chad into the inner layers of my heart was the best thing I ever did. Accepting him as my best friend and letting him know had almost more impact than saying “I love you” for the first time. And honestly, it felt even better to hear him say it.
I’m the type of person that never wants to choose, offend, or place priority over others. I think it’s a symptom of having two siblings—hearing over and over that there isn’t a favorite in the bunch, and being able to categorize appreciation and love of different values. I’ve never said I had a favorite dog, and would instead make a list of my childhood pets; I loved Isabel for her defiance, I loved Caesar for his sass, I loved Olive for her sweetness.
I do the same thing in my relationships. I have many besties and strong feelings, and I’m not ashamed of it. Chad is my very best friend, Alexis is my outside-of-marriage best friend, Laura is my childhood best friend. Jessica is my other best friend. Bobby is too. My mom also earns a spot, and probably my dad too. In a different way, of course.
The point is: there’s enough to go around. And when you let some of that closeness seep into your marriage, your relationship will forever change. You get more comfortable. You make more jokes. You air your grievances better. The best of your life is sitting next to you, and you’ll make choices that strengthen your bond and relationship.
It’s worth it. It really is.