When you witness another couple give each other an extended, passionate kiss, you don’t forget it — especially if they’re a married couple. I certainly haven’t forgotten one particular time I got an eyeful on a sweltering afternoon in Mississippi.
My friend Shon and I had been clearing land for several hours when we finally decided to head back to his house. We were filthy, drenched in sweat and dehydrated.
After I walked through the door, I went straight to the kitchen sink, turned on the water, bent over and started guzzling from the tap. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw that Shon was doing something very different.
His wife, Beth, walked right up to him, put her hands on his face and began kissing him. I didn’t want to interrupt the love-fest so I decided to pretend to keep drinking and wait out the kiss.
So I waited.
And waited—until the two finally unlocked lips.
I turned around and they stood there next to each other like nothing had happened. But something had happened: Like many times before, I had witnessed Shon and Beth’s love and decided that one day, I was going to have a marriage like that. But I wasn’t just thinking of the physical attraction they obviously had for each other. I wanted the kind of friendship they had.
They got each other’s sense of humor. They held each other together in the midst of parenting the most strong-willed toddler in world history. They prayed together and encouraged each other. They were basically best friends — that’s what I wanted but it wasn’t quite what I got.
Quite frankly, when I got married, I was disappointed with the friendship between my wife, Raquel, and me. I had only known her for nine months when we said “I do,” and despite a rocky engagement, I kept telling myself that wedding planning was the reason we were having so much conflict. The wedding ceremony was going to fix everything. It did not.
Raquel and I found ourselves bickering over the most ridiculous things, nitpicking at each other and always trying to get the last word in. Yes, we were married, we were physically attracted to each other and we were going to stick it out. We were not, however, best friends in the way I had hoped. It stressed me out and left me wondering what was wrong with us.
If I could go back and give myself some advice, here’s what I’d say: Don’t worry about it, man. You don’t have to be best friends with your wife — you’ve already got something far more profound than that.
Being “best friends” is all about chemistry, having lots of things in common and enjoying being together. That’s not always natural for married folks. How could it be?
You’re paying bills together, raising children together, buying property, doing chores, negotiating the little details of everyday life. You’re not always going to feel like best friends in the middle of all of that, so let go of the idea that you even need to be best friends. Instead, aim to be each other’s closest friend.
Here’s what I mean by that: You two are already physically close to each other every day — you’re sharing food, sharing a bathroom, sleeping in the same bed and, well, not just sleeping in that bed. You can’t get away from each other.
It’s in that place of inescapable proximity that you two are figuring out how hard it can be to live with someone so different than you are. You’re getting to know each other in a way that nobody else does. You’re seeing each other’s worst and trying to find the best anyway. That’s no ordinary friendship.
When you’re in a relationship like that, you’ve found your closest friend, body and soul. It’s a friendship that says “I do,” and keeps saying it every day. It’s a friendship based on unconditional love, the kind of love Jesus gives you every day.
Keep being that friend to your wife, no matter how you feel. If you two can keep trying to do that — in spite of all your weaknesses — you’ll have the truest, deepest, best kind of friendship anyone could ask for.