By Anne Peterson, Crosswalk.com
At a spring craft fair a woman was reading one of my poetry pieces, I’d Marry You Again. She said to me, “Did you write this about your husband?”
I remember nodding, and then feeling guilty about it. Because I had written that poem thinking about what I thought a marriage should be like. Later, at home, I asked Mike, “Do you consider me your friend?”
Without hesitation he responded, “Yes.”
And I replied, “I don’t consider you my friend.”
And God started showing me that I needed to work on my relationship with Mike. Not only was he to be my friend, he was to be my closest friend.
Father, I pray for anyone reading this article today. I pray that you would give us wisdom as we seek to have marriages that are strong, marriages that reflect the love you have given us. Help us God, to love our husbands and to respect them. Give us clarity on what we can do to make sure our marriages please you. We pray this in your Son’s precious name. In Jesus’ name, amen.
What are the things we need to work on to ensure our husbands are our closest friends? What makes a good friend?
1. Friends are honest with each other
A friend can be trusted. A friend will tell you the truth and serve it with grace. I have known friends in my life who would shoot straight with me. Friends don’t just tell you what you want to hear.
Read Ecclesiastes 4:12. It’s wonderful to know you have someone in your corner, someone who will be there for you, no matter what. We all need that. Your husband can be that person, and you can be that for your husband, too. God showed me it was possible.
2. Friends are honored
To honor someone means holding them in high regard. Sitcoms portray husbands in a poor light. And while we laugh, are we sometimes guilty of the same thing?
To honor someone means to think highly of them. When you think highly of someone you don’t rudely correct them. Yes, I’ll admit it. I used to correct my husband. And while I tried justifying it by telling myself I was helping him, the truth is, I thought he was a reflection of me. And I was proud. Proud that I sometimes knew something he didn’t know. I’m not proud of that right now, but I’m glad God revealed it to me.
When we rudely correct another adult, we are placing ourselves above them. And that is not honoring at all. Read Philippians 2:3. When we are not considering the other person, but rather trying to usurp them, we see ourselves as the significant ones. I remember being surprised that when I stopped correcting my husband, he caught his own mistakes. Imagine that?
3. Friends are respected
You treat your friends special. When they talk, you don’t interrupt. When they belabor something, you give them patience. But somehow this was not how I had treated my husband at times. With Mike, I would become impatient. I actually used to roll my eyes when he wouldn’t see me. But God saw me, and he told me that I was disrespecting Mike as a person. So, I learned to stop doing it. But it was not easy. Bad habits are hard to break. And when I stopped doing it outwardly but still rolled my eyes inside my head, God told me that didn’t look good on me either. Read 1 Samuel 16:7. God is a loving God that is interested in not only what we do, but our motives as well. As long as I was exasperated inside, I was still exasperated.
One day Mike and I got a call from our good friend. She had gone through a rough time and gotten a divorce and she wanted to visit us for a week. I knew Mike loved her as much as I did. But instead of checking with him first, I answered my friend, “Of course you can come, we’d love to have you and the kids.”
When Mike awoke and found out I had told her yes without checking with him, he felt disrespected. Let me just say, I knew it when I was on the phone with her, that I should have checked with him first.
Mike had woken up with a backache and I told him I’d give him a back rub. When he heard I had made the decision without even talking to him, his first response was that I call our friend back and tell her no. I could feel my anger bubbling up inside of me. And now I was expected to rub his back? I wanted to do anything in the world but that. But God was showing me what honor looked like. And that meant I would think of Mike, even at that moment. God used that back rub to soften my husband’s heart. When I was done with the back rub, I slipped downstairs and didn’t hear Mike approaching.
He said to me, “So now, why don’t you tell me about that call?” And once Mike heard the conversation he said, “Of course they can come.”
4. Friends forgive each other
Sometimes when our mom was upset with us, she would give us the silent treatment. We felt bad and we felt shame. We just wanted her to talk again, even if it was to yell at us. Early in our marriage, I found myself also giving Mike the silent treatment. What’s sad is, I knew how bad it felt to be on the receiving end of that treatment. Mike loved me enough to help me talk when I was angry. He’d start by bringing up the weather or something small. Eventually, I was able to break that habit.
It seemed harder for me to forgive my husband than to forgive my friends. I don’t know if I just expected him to not make mistakes, or if I thought he should have known I would get upset, but I struggled when I got upset by something Mike did or didn’t do. God reminded me what forgiveness really is. Read Ephesians 4:32.
If our hearts were tender, we would not make our spouses pay when they upset us. When we forgive, we need to remember we didn’t deserve to be forgiven by God, and yet, he forgave us. Forgiveness is not something to withhold from others.
I still remember one time thinking, “Someone needs to pay for this,” when I was hurt. And ever so clearly, God reminded me, someone did. His precious Son. God can even help us forget some of those hurts as well. I’ll never forget one day when Mike asked me about one of those times he’d hurt me. “Anne, remember when…” And honestly, I didn’t remember.
His response was, “Oh you did forgive me.” God can soften hurts and take their sting away.
5. Friends help each other
Marriage is God’s idea. Read Genesis 2:18. After God created each thing he said, “It was good.” The only exception to this was after he had made man, he said, “It is not good for man to be alone.” God didn’t want him to be lonely, so he made a helper for him. God can help us meet our husband’s needs. Read Psalm 139: 1-4. God knows even our thoughts. He’s acquainted with all our ways.
Who better than the Lord to show us how to be helpmates. God will lead us if we look to him. Read Proverbs 3:5-6. He will make our paths straight. What he wants us to do is to trust him fully. Not to lean on our own understanding, but instead to lean on him with all our weight.
6. Friends are committed
Someone once told me the quote, “There are friends for reasons, for seasons, and for life.” God wants our spouses to be friends for life. Even in the vows we said years ago we made a promise to our spouses. But we were also making a promise to God as well. God loves commitment. And in today’s world, commitment is a rarity.
We live in a world of temporary fixes. Nothing seems permanent. If people get tired of something they own, they just replace it. But people are not something to be replaced. They are not to be tossed aside because we think there’s someone out there who is better. It’s the enemy of our souls that wants us to believe that lie. The more we walk with God, the more he works in our lives and the more we will want to be committed followers. Friends make commitments and keep them.
7. Friends love each other
When God gives us love for another person, God doesn’t run out of that love. And if we think our feelings change, we are putting too much emphasis on our feelings. Maybe what we need to do is remember. Remember what drew us to our spouses to begin with. Remember how we used to sit and hang on every word they said.
My friend loves to remind me of a memory before I got married to Mike. We were all at Camp Awana, with our Bible class. I had just gotten back to our cabin and told them I was going turn in. Just then another girl came in, listing who was at the mess hall. My friend always smiles as she remembers when Mike Peterson was mentioned I jumped up and almost ran out of there.
Beginning love is special. We all have those memories we can take out and revisit. Mine are in a special room in my mind, and I keep the door unlocked. Think of things your spouse has done throughout the years that brought a smile to your face. The smallest thing at the time, but it touched you. One example for me is that when the new blossoms come out in the spring, I can expect there will be some in a glass of water on my desk. Love wants to share with those we love.
When we lost our granddaughter I was heartbroken. What I needed for the longest time was just to be held, and Mike obliged. I look at photos of us and instantly I’m transported back in time. Seeing how much life we’ve shared being married more than 40 years. Were there hard times? Yes, some felt impossible. But God is faithful and has always been with us in our marriage.
Our spouses should be our friends, our closest friends. We should be honest with them, honor them, respect them, forgive them, help them, be committed to them and love them. And God will help us to do just that. How do I know? He did it with us. And I’ll let you in on something else. I would marry him again. Because God changed me and I saw what I have in him.
Anne Peterson is a regular contributor to Crosswalk. She is also the published author of 14 books including Broken: A story of abuse, survival and hope, and children’s books and poetry books as well. Check out Anne’s website, where you can also sign up for her newsletter and receive a free eBook. Or follow Anne on her Facebook page.
Photo Credit: ©Thinkstock/JacobLund