Don't Worry About Marrying a "Best Friend'

Shannon Ashley

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People love to talk about the secrets to a successful marriage, as if there are seriously any secrets to making anything last forever. To be honest, I'm not a big fan of advice that supposedly reveals secrets. That's why you'll never see many (if any) stories from me with the word "secret" in the title.

Personally, I see "secrets" as yet another buzzword lazy writers use to reel you in. That's right, I said "lazy writers," because we all know they're out there. Clickbait gets to us all from time to time. But come on, you don't need any secrets for a long-lasting marriage.

You only need a healthy relationship that works for you and your spouse.

A lot of people subscribe to the notion that you've got to be best friends with your spouse. As if that's the secret ingredient for marital bliss. But that's pretty silly. Sure, it's fine to be best friends with your husband or wife, but only if that's the kind of dynamic you both want. And even then, you've got to consider what's healthy in any friendship, and what's plain codependent.

What people often forget as they dole out or take in relationship advice is that we are all different. No relationship is exactly like another. And there's more than one way to relate to your spouse.

Too many people waste their time and energy trying to force their relationship to fit into a certain sort of box. Maybe you want your relationship to match whatever your parents had. Or your friends. You might even look to strangers on social media for your #RelationshipGoals.

Unfortunately, it's not realistic to expect your marriage or anyone else's to conform to some preconceived notions of a good romance. It would make a heck of a lot more sense to instead focus on what's genuinely healthy.

Forget trying to be best friends with your spouse. You each need your own lives. That means some of your own friends, own work, and own goals. The best way to help a marriage succeed is to focus on your life as teammates. Let teamwork be your baseline.

You might have grown up thinking that the only way to have a great marriage is to get on the same exact page as your spouse and be best friends. But couples who try this often freak out to discover they aren't on the same page at all. They may even find out that there are things they don't like about this person for whom they thought they had only love.

People who try to foster a best friends style of marriage often miss out on the joy of thriving without needing to do everything together. Everybody needs to learn how to thrive on their own. That's why the healthiest relationships allow all parties to grow as individuals, while still enjoying a shared vision at the end of the day.

A few of my married friends like to get on Facebook, Instagram, and any other social media platform to share their love. You know what I mean. The folks who publicly post the messages they each could post privately through text. They also love to espouse the benefits of being best friends.

But I've got to wonder, for whose benefit are they constantly posting? Why does anyone need to know how happy you are 35 times a day?

Those couples don't make best friends marriages look so appealing. Frankly, they make them look pretty darn exhausting. Healthy love doesn't demand attention.

The bottom line is pretty simple. You can be best friends with your spouse, obviously. But you sure as heck don't have to be. Being best friends is no guarantee of success. Even the supposedly bestest of friends fight, fall into toxic patterns, and "breakup" every day.

Think of yourself as playing for the same team as your spouse. That means you'll positively work with each other like teammates. You'll want to see each other reach their individual potential. You'll both put in an effort for the good of the team, without feeling the pressure to be codependent and do everything together.

Ultimately, you've got to come to terms with the fact that there is no secret to a good marriage. There's really no secret for a long-lasting relationship at all. Healthy relationships are built upon freedom and an ability to envision and work for a mutually beneficial future.

That means there are various types of marriages--some more friendly and mushy than others. Some more rational and pragmatic too. It doesn't matter what kind of marriage you have--as long as it supports the good health of you as individuals and a couple, and as long as both of you agree to the type of dynamic you have.

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Single mama, full-time writer, ex-vangelical. It's not about being flawless, it's about being honest. I cover real-life issues, like family, parenting, relationships, and spiritual abuse.

Cleveland, TN
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