Saying “I Do” to Friendship

Two years ago today, I was an anxious 18 year-old standing in front of all my loved ones waiting for the very moment I would declare the magic words, I do. It’s surreal to look back on my wedding day; the whole event seems all a blur full of laughter, music, bubbles, and white. Any day where you are surrounded by hundreds of people gathered just to see you is in itself overwhelming, especially when they all stand up when you enter the room. I knew I loved Noah then, but I had no idea just how much I would love him now as I write this. I could write a book on all of the fun times we have had together so far, but for now I just want to talk about one thing that has promoted much of our success in marriage: friendship.

When I’m feeling stressed, I want my Noah; when I’m feeling happy, I want my Noah; when I’m feeling romantic, I want my Noah. Noah is my person through all of my ups and downs. More than being my husband, he is also my best friend in the entire world. I truly believe that this should be true in every marriage. From a psychological perspective, this kind of love would satisfy all aspects of Sternberg’s Triangular Theory of Love. If you are not familiar with this theory, it explains that different kinds of love can be characterized by combinations of passion, intimacy, and commitment. Consummate love, considered the ideal embodiment of love, is fulfillment of all three categories. While you may be thinking that friendship would interfere with the romantic aspect of marriage, from my experience, our friendship provides the spark and fuel for it. When we spend time together and share our every thought, whether it be a silly joke or troubling feeling, I sense our connection strengthening. Because I don’t hide any piece of myself, I am able to give my whole self to him. In an almost paradoxical way, us not taking ourselves too seriously cultivates a more mature relationship.

I challenge everyone not to slip and fall into the script for marriage that has become embedded into our culture. Treat your spouse like you would your dearest friend. This is important in general, but especially in these three ways.

  1. Don’t ever put your partner down. Today, there seems to exist the expectation that you find your spouse bothersome and/or lesser than you which allows negative talk about them to be okay. This could not be more wrong. Marriage binds two together such that hurting one partner hurts the couple and relationship as a whole. Be each other’s life cheerleader.
  2. Don’t let society determine how you show each other love. If flowers and chocolate or movies and long walks on the beach aren’t your thing, that’s okay. One of my favorite things Noah ever gave me was a cactus because it showed that he knew me in a way no one else did, and grocery store trips have caused some of our happiest nights.  Whatever gifts and date nights you choose to give each other are personal and should not be influenced by what other people think are valuable. 
  3. Don’t be afraid to mix up traditional gender roles. For most of our marriage so far, I have worked more hours than Noah and not had time to do the chores that traditionally are viewed as the wife’s responsibility. Thankfully, he filled in where I couldn’t provide. Marriage should be flexible, and thus roles and responsibilities should evolve as life unfolds.

Every relationship is unique, so don’t feel discouraged if yours doesn’t look like someone else’s. As I am only two years into my marriage, I know this is just the beginning. I am so excited to see how the rest of my life unfolds with my husband and best friend by my side. Happy Anniversary Noah. I love you!

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