How Friendship Prepared Me For Marriage

Ever have one of those friends who always cancels? I’ve had a few. One in particular would never show up on time, or just never show up at all. I would tend to make sure other friends were involved in the plan so I wouldn’t be totally stood up. If my friend found something better or more interesting than her first plan, she would just cancel. We live in a culture in which personal freedom is valued more than commitment and keeping our promises. Friendships and relationships are based on how I feel or what I want.

This carries over into dating and marriage. People will bolt at any sign of trouble or hardship. For instance, I was watching the TV show Switched at Birth the other day. In one scene one main character says to the other, “We shouldn’t have to try to make it work, it should just … work.” In reality, relationships are hard work, but we live in a time and place where things come easily and quickly, and that makes us think that relationships should, too. I want some lunch, I get it through a window in less than five minutes. I want to watch a movie, I log on to Netflix and have a hundred options. I want to go to Europe, I hop on a plane and I’m there within twenty-four hours. We change friends like we change outfits. If one doesn’t fit or look good or is worn out, we move on.

How we treat people in friendships directly relates to how we treat people in romantic relationships.  I have always tried to be the most reliable friend. Friendship is sticking together for life, through whatever comes.

Elizabeth and her friend, Kristen, as children
Elizabeth and her friend, Kristen, as children
Elizabeth and her friend and maid of honor, Kristen, all grown up
Elizabeth and her friend, Kristen, all grown up

Practical ways to show friendship include: keeping commitments, showing up where you say you’ll be when you say you’ll be there, calling when you say you will, responding to phone calls or texts in a timely manner, making the other person a priority, keeping secrets in confidence, not speaking badly about each other to others, thinking about the other before yourself, standing up for each other if necessary, and the list could go on and on. All of those qualities are excellent qualities in a friend, as well as a spouse!

The kinds of skills and values needed for friendship are good practice for the skills and values needed in marriage. The loyalty that we show our friends can in some ways prepare us for the commitment we will one day make to a spouse.

Elizabeth and Darren for their first dance
Elizabeth and Darren on their first dance

My husband, Darren, and I chose two songs to combine into our first dance song at our wedding. A part from the first song, “Love is Not a Fight” by Warren Barfield, says,

“Love is not a place to come and go as we please. It’s a house we enter in and then commit to never leave. So lock the door behind you and throw away the key. We’ll work it out together, let it bring us to our knees.”

The other song, “Dancing in the Minefields” by Andrew Peterson, says,

“We are dancing in the minefields, we are sailing in the storm. This is harder than we dreamed, but that’s what the promise is for.”

Both songs show the importance of permanence and commitment in a marriage. Darren and I wanted our marriage to be built on the rock of commitment, something  that doesn’t crumble based on our own preferences.

Every relationship has its ups and downs, but we gave up our “right” to leave and find a more “suitable” choice when we committed to each other on our wedding day. I am so glad my husband has all the qualities of a committed friend. It makes him a great spouse, too.

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