Dr. John Gottman did research. “70% of men and women want their spouses to be their best friend.” What makes a great marriage? A great friendship. Here is the problem with people who go to church. We read scripture and make something that is beautiful and fun and make it into a weird, funky, religious, daily grind.
Each man must love his wife as he loves himself… NLT Ephesians 5:33 What do men hear? I must love my wife! It’s my duty, I have to strive and struggle to do things to love her. Men say privately: Please list the things I must do so I can check off the ‘love’ box.
…and the wife must respect her husband. NLT Ephesians 5:33 What do women hear? I must respect my husband! It’s my duty, I have to strive and struggle to respect this man. Women say privately: I can’t respect him because he is not respectable, if he would… I could respect him.
And both men and women, who are married and in church, who read scripture, miss it. They have taken something beautiful and fun and made it into a weird, funky, religious, daily grind. Each man who is a friend to his wife would obviously love her without effort. Each wife who is a friend to her husband would obviously respect him without effort.
How is your friendship going? Are you having fun? Do you enjoy each other? Let me share with you what friendship does: It doubles the joy in life and it cuts the grief of life in half. Does your marriage look like this? When you ask, how would your spouse answer, “How am I at being your friend?”
In general, there are three kinds of marriages. First kind of marriage: Bad Neighbors. Have you ever experienced a bad neighbor? You don’t like them and they don’t like you and neither one of you are moving so you have to put up with them. The best thing you could ever do is have a 10 foot high fence. You have to be careful around each other, can’t say the wrong thing. The best days are when you don’t see each other. Does this explain your marriage? You have become bitter and angry and cold. The wife nags and criticizes to motivate her husband. The husband becomes angry and shuts down because it’s not worth it or he is abusive. You both point to each other as the problem because they aren’t… fill in the blank.
Maybe your marriage is like going to work. You’re co-workers. You work hard. Pay the bills. Volunteer. Make all the appointments. At church on time. You deliver the kids soccer, baseball, gymnastics, soccer, whatever. You are very very busy and efficient. AND, because you are busy and efficient, you have no time for each other. When your spouse wants to go out for fun, or wants to talk , or have sex, you role your eyes and come up with the most amazing excuses as to why that will never happen. You are great at getting stuff done, but there is no fun, no romance, no friendship.
Maybe you are fortunate. Maybe you are enjoying your friend. A woman is describing her spouse in the bible, I hope this is what you can say about your spouse. His mouth is sweetness itself; he is altogether lovely. This is my lover, this my friend. NIV Song of Solomon 5:16
How do we go from ‘here’ to ‘friendship’? Honor Christ by submitting to each other. TLB Ephesians 5:21
That means you say yes to each other. I have never meet two people, anointed by the Holy Spirit, who say yes to each other, who are miserable. The details we explain next week.
Think about that for a second. Do you find yourself saying, ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ to your spouse on a consistent basis. Okay, so you are fighting me a little bit and you think, “I say ‘No’ but for good reasons!” When you come up with your good excuses as to why you say ‘No’ to your spouse, you’re playing games. The reality is, you are saying ‘No’ because you have an issue with saying ‘Yes.’ You are hiding behind your excuses. “Excuses and intentions don’t pay the bills!” AND your excuses and intentions don’t breath life into your spouse.
What would your spouse say when asked, “Does your spouse say ‘Yes’ to you a lot?” And, “Has your spouse become a great friend to you?”