“It is not a lack of love, but a lack of friendship that makes unhappy marriages.”
This is a profound truth. We get eternally confused when we picture marriage as that ever-continuing dreamy romance that punctuated the early going... I mean, where did it go?
In marriage relationships a queer thing occurs. The ‘easy romance’ transforms beyond a return to it—no matter how hard we try. And yet, the way back to the romance is, paradoxically, through the friendship we engender in our ever-developing bond. We are confounded in our selfishness for wanting something for ourselves when the answer was easily as simple; it lies in pleasing our partners. For this is true love.
And besides, we can’t easily find marital bliss unless we can start to begin to know ourselves.
Most people will scoff at that thought; ‘Of course, I know myself, idiot!’ Sorry, but my response is, ‘Don’t be so sure!’ We’re a long way from ourselves unless we make it a deliberate and intentional mission in life—many people will not do this unless they’re forced there. Life’s too comfortable.
Yet, the comfortable groove that we exist in is often the very nexus of our problem.
When we don’t connect with ourselves well, how can we possibly connect with our partners in the necessarily sacrificial way that love implicitly requires?
But let’s get back to our original concern: friendship in marriage. How many of us desire not simply a partner but a soul-mate? That was and is my desire. Yet, to become soul-mates requires action, and that on a continual basis. Being a soul-mate is about being such a well-connected friend we don’t survive well without continual “helpings” of our partner. We’re desperate for them; lost without them—but not to the point where we’re no longer adequately independent people. Is your relationship this “connected?” (If it isn’t, don’t stress. It can only develop this way over time. Action is required.)
I recall a work colleague lauding to me, upon my quizzing, the blessings of wondrous sex in his thirty-five year old marriage; it just got better and better. His secret? He and his wife had simply endured the worst entwined together and now they were enjoying the best—entwined together.
And the product of this journeying in marital friendship is a centralisation on trust and respect—both partners looking positively to each other, entrenched in the purity of love’s most basic rapport—friendship.
Friendship is devotion.
© 2010 S. J. Wickham.