While friendship within marriage is not the sexiest topic, studies indicate it is actually the most important factor in marital satisfaction. This point is emphasized in Real Marriage, a book by Seattle-based pastor, Mark Driscoll. In his book, Driscoll cites a preeminent sociologist’s study on marriage, which found, “The determining factor in whether wives feel satisfied with the sex, romance, and passion in their marriage is, by 70 percent, the quality of the couple’s friendship. For men, the determining factor is, by 70 percent the quality of the couple’s friendship. So men and women come from the same planet after all.” The study went on to conclude: “Happy marriages are based on a deep friendship. By this I mean a mutual respect for and enjoyment of each other’s company. These couples tend to know each other intimately–they are well versed in each other’s likes, dislikes, personality quirks, hopes, and dreams. They have an abiding regard for each other and express this fondness not just in the big ways but in little ways day in and day out . . . friendship fuels the flames for romance because it offers the best protection against feeling adversarial toward your spouse.”
It’s important to catch that last point: friendship with your wife protects against adversarial bitterness–and infidelity–by fueling the flames of romance. So friendship isn’t just a need within your wife, it’s also a need within you.
Deepen Your Friendship with Your Wife
Maintaining a deep and fun friendship with your wife should be a top priority. Here’s a practical way to make it happen. Do this daily and you’ll find yourself in a deeper, more fulfilling marriage.
Listen to Your Wife
In 1 Peter 3:7, husbands are told to “live with your wife in an understanding way” (NASB). The only way a man can understand his wife is to listen to her. Ask her questions. Seek to discover her desires and passions, what worries and troubles her, what brings her happiness and joy.
It’s important that you understand what she’s saying rather than try to fix her problem. Women usually prefer an ear to a wrench. Make it your goal to understand first. Only then should you concern yourself with being understood.
If you need to improve in this area, tell your wife you want to learn to listen better. Ask her for listening tips. Give her permission to let you know when she feels you’re not paying attention. When she calls you out, don’t defend yourself. Instead apologize and ask some leading questions. Your willingness to ask questions is critical because it shows you’re not self-focused.
Avoid a hard or sarcastic tone. A gentle tone tells her you’re sincere, that you value her companionship and are trying to deepen your friendship. It will show you’re putting her needs before your own. Such love builds trust and forms the foundation for a lasting, lifelong friendship.
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