Don't Just Be His Wife, Be His Friend
"Sometimes, I just need you to be my friend."
Bam. There it was.
My husband called me yesterday, energized after a long personal conversation he had with a co-worker. That conversation was an extension of one he and I had on Sunday. The Sunday conversation hadn't ended well. In fact, thinking back now, it hadn't ended at all. If that conversation were a sentence, it would end with an ellipsis, its conclusion still hanging among the clouds.
"I need you to be my friend."
He said it again. My first and second thought was to get offended and offer a rebuttal. But instead I listened. I heard his thoughts, his concerns, his insecurities. I allowed him to go on for another few minutes before his phone dropped our call on his way home. Then, I allowed him to continue after he got home and he was able to further voice his thoughts in person. I heard what he said and even the things he did not say. Now, I was ready to hear him.
My husband married his best friend: me. And I did the same. But somewhere in between planning and preparing for the future, discussing finances, mealtime, bedtime, bath time, quick phone calls to say "I'm on the way," I forgot to be his friend.
What I mean is subjectively hearing his thoughts. Not offer my opinion or trying to figure out the point to his monologue. Not being offended that his opinion is different than mine. Being his friend means urging him to explore his thoughts more. Giving him an indication that you're listening. You know, "hmm" or "I see" or "that's interesting." I was too judgmental in his confiding in me; too quick to assume he had all things worked out and that he was bringing them to me as a final analysis. I forgot to be the woman he called to bounce ideas of at all hours of the early morning when we were dating. I forgot to assist him in exploring and instead I shut down. I was the objective wife and not the subjective friend.
Taking friendship for granted is like forgetting you have a pillow to lay on. I am his soft place. Likewise, he is mine. Friendship brings a sense of security that invites room for forgiveness, secrets, flaws, insecurities, opinions, anger, rebuttal, triumphs and celebration. Sometimes, I believe young wives play up that role (directly or indirectly) as a qualified achievement. And while I feel it is an honor to be my husband's wife--being his friend is taken for granted. Our love sprouted from our friendship: my ability to respect the characteristics of his person and his willingness to challenge me without making me uncomfortable. Those were the open holes that allowed our love to grow. Love is an extension of friendship. You cannot have love without friendship. Further, you cannot have a healthy marriage without cultivating that friendship.
I forgot for minute...but I'm back now.
originally published 12/11/13