Being married for over 13 years, I have found many times where having others to talk to, pray with, and “do life” with were a great benefit to my marriage. Though my husband provides great conversation and ample entertainment, having a great girl friend or two has always kept my life balanced as well. Having another person to be a sounding board and safe place is not only a great idea but wise.
The truth is, your most important relationship should be your spouse. The idea of leaving people and possessions behind to cling to one another is biblical truth (Genesis 2:24). Yet, the Lord also created us to live amongst one another, often referring to relationships amongst our neighbors throughout the Scriptures.
Though a new marriage may require a shift in former friendships, we can still run towards healthy friendships. Ideally, finding friends your spouse gets along with or who are also married can be a great middle ground for balancing it all. Single friends, older and younger friends can also be of great value to your marriage. Without friends, many experts have found an overall decrease in marital satisfaction and increase in resentment.
Here are 5 reasons it’s important to have friends when you are married.
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Having good friends is a source of accountability. Oftentimes, especially in the first years of marriage, new couples may struggle with many everyday issues. Communication, boundaries, and household roles can become sources of great stress for a new marriage. However, having another trusted person as a listening ear can be very valuable.
Friends who have been married previously or who understand the dynamics of your relationship can give you wisdom when times are tough. They can also correct you and encourage you to apologize when you are wrong. A great friend who reflects God’s character should be able to guide you towards truth and point out areas of improvement, without you feeling offended. In my own life, I can personally attest that being in the company of one or two friends saved my home from many arguments.
As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another. (Proverbs 27:17)
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Though it may seem all the companionship you will ever need is in your spouse, you may learn this is not the case. In my home, my husband is very athletic. I, however, can hardly dribble or bowl a ball down the lane. Though I’ve gone along for sporting events, I spend more time asking questions and annoying him than enjoying the event. Truthfully, it would be more fun for him to enjoy such events with another guy who also loves the game as much as he does. Perhaps your friend will give you the opportunity to go on an all-girls trip or mom’s night out.
Whatever the case may be, outside friends allows you to be refreshed in the presence of another person. The Lord can use these moments for you to share personal issues or develop deeper friendships with others. Though you are one with your spouse, the Lord still wants you to have an element of community. When we close ourselves off to outside friendships, we are forced to do some things alone rather than being with others. Deep friendships give us a chance to not just spend time together but to also show God’s brotherly love to one another.
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Having friends can be a great source of support, practically and emotionally. As a military spouse, I had friends to take care of my other children while I gave birth. Friends helped me move and provided us meals in our toughest times. Without the extra support, I would have found myself in a bind on several occasions. Unfortunately, your spouse will not always be present physically or emotionally.
Sociology professor, Dallas Flake discusses this popular misconception and how harmful it can be for couples. According to Flake, depending solely on your spouse for all your needs “creates unrealistic expectations… You feel guilty because you can’t give everything to (your spouse) and they feel resentful or angry that you’re not giving them everything.”
However, having a person to call outside of your home when in need, or having someone to who can listen is a valuable resource. In adversity, we are able to see friends become family. We learn who really cares for us, versus who merely likes what we have to offer. A true friend shouldn’t just be around for fun but should stick close, even in the tough times.
A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity. (Proverbs 17:17)
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Who doesn’t need a little encouragement? Whether you need a boost in self esteem or motivation to stay the course in your marriage, those who uplift can sustain you in difficult times. Though our spouses should always encourage us, sometimes we need encouragement to deal with the unique facets of our relationship. This can be especially true in areas where you feel defeated, such as your career or in parenting. Having someone say “me too” or “I know you can do this” allows us to face the journey ahead.
Oftentimes, isolation alone can be the cause of built -up frustration and anxiety. Society frequently paints the picture of marriage being the answer to life’s unhappiness. However, marriage does not necessarily equate to happiness. Even those who have someone in their daily lives can use some encouragement in many different forms.
Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. (1 Thessalonians 5:11)
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5. Maintaining Self-Autonomy
Self-autonomy refers to the ability to manage yourself in terms of interests, hobbies, and personal goals. Oftentimes, newlyweds tend to neglect their personal aspirations and desires in order to accommodate the others person’s. Though this is honorable and may be necessary at some points within your marriage, it is not always healthy. Having friends outside of the marriage gives you a chance to explore things that are of specific interest to you.
Recognizing that God has made each of us with a unique set of traits, gifts, and purposes, we can draw insight and comfort from friends who are moving in similar directions. For example, if the Lord has called you to be a baker, taking time to spend time with your friend who own the local cupcake shop increases your self-autonomy while enjoying companionship. It has been found that marriages that focus on togetherness and individual needs are healthier and happier. In the long run, both parties will benefit from each person being fully who God has called them to be. This may mean allowing your partner to enjoy another person’s company that shares similar interests.
Regardless of how long you’ve been married, you must remember that having friends outside the home does not make us selfish or neglectful of your marriage. It’s up to each individual relationship to determine boundaries that work for their family. When friendships are healthy and add value, they can be a great source of hope and encouragement for the marriage itself. Whether you have one close friend or several, ask the Lord to give you insight on how to incorporate your friends into your life in a healthy manner. Together, we are stronger and can encourage one another to live the lives the Lord has called us to.
Victoria Riollano is an author, blogger, and speaker. As a mother of six, military spouse, Psychology professor and minister’s wife, Victoria has learned the art of balancing family and accomplishing God’s ultimate purpose for her life. Recently, Victoria released her book, The Victory Walk: A 21 Day Devotional on Living A Victorious Life. Her ultimate desire is to empower women to live a life of victory, hope, and love. She believes that with Christ we can live a life that is ALWAYS winning. You can learn more about her ministry at victoryspeaks.org.
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Originally published Friday, 02 August 2019.