FOUR REASONS FOR MARRIAGE: friendship
For the next few weeks, in between some great Love Stories, we’re going to be taking a fresh look at four reasons for marriage… and four questions to ask yourself while looking for The One… and four areas which must align in your relationship in order to make a marriage great. Way back in the book of Genesis, God created this thing called marriage.
Right after filling His world with light and land and sun and stars and every kind of creature imaginable, God saw Adam’s aloneness. Every other creature had a match, but Adam, charged with the immense task of managing God’s creation, had no one.
And so God created Eve. Her name means “life”, and with her came a life giving relationship for Adam as well as a beautiful means of perpetuating life throughout God’s massive creation.
But it’s Adam’s aloneness that I want to address today.
“It is not good for the man to be alone;
I will make him a helper suitable for him.” Genesis 2:18
God saw Adam’s solitary life as a “not good” thing. As in negative… a detriment… a strike against him.
But instead of exhorting Adam to let God be his everything, or to find satisfaction in his aloneness, God decided to create a counterpart for him.
Someone who could and would partner with him in his life’s calling.
Someone to spend time with, to talk to, to be friends with.
Someone to chase away the loneliness.
And it gets even better! Scroll down a few verses to Genesis, chapter 2, verses 24,25:
“For this cause a man shall leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and they shall become one flesh.
And the man and his wife were both naked and not ashamed.”
Can you imagine? Two people so at ease with each other that they bare it all. They not only shed their clothes, they take off all those fabrications we wrap around ourselves to hide the imperfections we are so ashamed of.
And that is one of the greatest aspects of this thing called marriage.
Oneness. A complete melding of two people into one. A melding that can only happen as both Adam and Eve trust each other enough allow themselves to be utterly and entirely stripped bare.
And because there was no sin in the Garden, this oneness was able to happen without pain or immense amounts of angst—and it happened instantly.
But because there is so much sin in our world, that kind of oneness can only happen between a man and a woman with a great deal of risk and trust and commitment and trying.
It is this unashamed oneness that is God’s goal in every marriage.
And very few marriages ever get there.
But the ones that do start with real honest-to-goodness friendship. They like each other.
When Phil and I first started dating I was painfully uncomfortable with him. I was so afraid of saying the wrong thing that I could hardly choke out a word! But before much time had passed, I found myself relaxing in his presence. I got caught up in knowing him and listening to him talk. I asked questions to keep him going, to find out more of what made this fascinating man tick.
Before I ever fell in love with him, I fell in like with him.
And even better, I felt fully myself with him. He was the first guy I ever dated who wanted me to be just who I was.
He liked me!
My quiet reticence didn’t worry him at all. With him there were no long awkward silences with me racking my brain on what to say next. He just carried me along into the conversation and somehow elicited more words from me than anyone had before.
But he also let me be silent. As if somehow he knew that my silence was just a way of processing and chewing on all he had to say.
I loved it!
In fact, I thrived with Phil. I came alive in his company. And for a raging introvert like me to crave another’s companionship is a miracle indeed!
And I saw this same thing with each of my children as they got to know the people who would eventually be their spouses.
When John Mark was with Tammy, he was more real and fully himself than I’d ever seen him be with any of his friends. With her he didn’t need to be cool or upbeat or always his best. I saw him relax, laugh a lot, and talk more than I think I’d ever seen him talk in his entire life!
And with Elizabeth, I saw her blossom. She was more herself with Brook than I’d ever seen her be. He brought out aspects of her character that I hadn’t even known existed.
With Rebekah and Steve, I see a more measured Rebekah. She gauges her responses by looking to his judgment of any given situation. Its made her relax, bringing out all the delightful joy that has characterized her contribution to our lives. It’s as if she needs him in order to be who she really is.
And that’s what I think this idea of oneness and friendship is all about. The freedom to be who you really are.
And so, my advice to anyone and everyone who is dating or thinking about dating…
- First be friends. Be sure you can be friends. Be sure he likes you— and you like him. Not the him you think he could eventually turn out to be… but him just as he is.
- Resist the urge to pretend to be something you’re not. There is no way you’re going to be able to keep up that façade for a lifetime!
- If something makes you uncomfortable about his personality, pay attention. Isn’t that the purpose of dating? Ask yourself, “Can I live with that?” Be honest.
- Date long enough to be sure you know the real person. See what he’s like when he’s mad. Or tired. Or discouraged. Can you live with that man?
- Ask the people who love you the most if you seem to be yourself around him.
- Ask yourself if you are thriving emotionally and spiritually and intellectually and socially when you’re with him.
- Do you match up comfortably? Remember, its not sameness you are after, but oneness.
- Examine your disagreements. What is snagging you up time and time again? Are they fundamental things? Or just the awkwardness of two people trying to meld their lives together?
I can honestly say that my husband is my best friend. In fact, I am absolutely convinced that he is the only person in the world who really knows me as I am.
And the most amazing thing about that is this: he still likes me.
Wanting that with all my heart for each of you,