I am an introvert. Among other things this means that I don’t have a huge group of friends. I have several friends to whom I am very close and who have a pretty good understanding of my heart, my personality, and my strengths and weaknesses. The verse about a man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother makes a lot of sense to me. Growing up, I nearly always had a best girlfriend and when I didn’t, I felt a little lost.
My husband, Dave, has always been my friend. In fact, when we first met, I wasn’t attracted to him at all; he was just my buddy, the person I just had to tell about everything, the person with whom I could have easy fun, the person who completely accepted me as me, no strings attached. Even though I can honestly say that Dave is my best friend, I’ve always had twinges of wishing that I had a BFF, that woman that I could call my best friend. For some reason, I’ve been feeling a little incomplete as a woman without that best friend relationship. I actually have gotten slightly jealous when I have seen other women who seem to be each other’s “kindred spirits” à la Anne Shirley and Diana Barry.
But I recently came across this question while reading Elyse Fitzpatrick’s book, Helper By Design: “Think about the relationships you have with women. Do you have girlfriends that you are closer to than you are with your husband? Although friendships are a blessing from the Lord, we have to guard against this easy deception (p.77).”
Wait. Female friendships could be an “easy deception”? How so? How could a deep female friendship possibly be a threat to my relationship with my husband?
One of the central and most basic premises of marriage is that a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. Obviously, this verse is talking about leaving our families of origin and forming a new and intimate relationship. However, there’s that aspect of one flesh that signifies a relationship that is closer than any other. No other relationship should ever mimic that one flesh relationship, in a physical or an emotional way. Elyse points out that, “women were never called to be “at one” with another woman”. We are only called to be one with our husbands.
Don’t get me wrong; I’m not saying that having good friendships with other women is wrong. I’m saying that any friendship we have with another woman should never be deeper and closer than our relationship with our husband. If it is, we’re withholding ourselves and preventing the deep companionship and one flesh relationship that God desires for marriage.
I think we’ve gotten a little deceived about the importance of our relationships with other women. We know that other women will just “get us”, so it’s easier to run to them to vent or commiserate or rejoice with. We’ve almost made it into a “need”. If our husband isn’t fulfilling our expectations of knowing us and understanding us and being interested in everything that interests us, we turn outward. We want to run to someone else.
Here’s more from Elyse: “It’s also easy to cleave to my girlfriends because we’re so alike in our designed nature. We love ‘chick flicks’ and chatting about our relationships and difficulties over coffee. My husband, on the other hand, wasn’t created primarily as a companion and helper, so if I’m going to achieve oneness with him, I’ve got to love a nature that is different, in some ways, from my own. Loving my girlfriends is also easier than loving my husband because it’s more like loving myself (p.90).”
Ouch. I cringed when I read that. Loving my girlfriends more than my husband is actually kind of a cop-out. I don’t have to work all that hard to maintain a friendship with a woman. I have to work hard to maintain a friendship with my husband. I have to explain myself more. I have to choose not to talk so much and share so much detail sometimes. Can’t I just take the easy way here? Nope. God deliberately put a man and a woman together, despite all their relational differences. That was a sovereign choice. He wanted us to need to work out all those relational differences partly to mold us into Christlike character.
So, what to do if your husband isn’t interested at all in a friendship with you? Are you justified then in seeking a replacement with a female friendship? I don’t think so. Sure, have a good solid friendship with a woman. If you’re in a lonely marriage like that, you need godly counsel anyway. But never allow that friendship to create a barrier to the possibility of building a friendship with your husband. The truth is that there is always hope for that friendship to grow with your husband. Maybe God has chosen tomorrow for that to happen. You would never want there to be a wall to prevent that from happening or a replacement friendship to compete with.
Finally, remember that beyond the friendship with your husband and beyond the friendship with other women, our deepest relationship and most fulfilling companionship can only come from God. You will never find full satisfaction in any earthly relationship in the way that you can with Christ. It is God who has searched me and known me! It is with Him that we will find fullness of joy.
Elizabeth and her husband Dave live in Virginia and have been married for almost 9 years. They have three boys, ages 4, 3, and 7 months. A former high school French teacher, she is now a stay at home mom just beginning the homeschooling journey. Together, she and her husband lead a small group, and Elizabeth is dipping her toes into the world of biblical counseling at their church. You can find Elizabeth blogging over at Warrior Wives where her goal is to encourage young wives to fight for their marriages.
Now bloggers, it’s time to link up your posts!
Link back to this community, either by using the button below or a text link. Link to your actual “Marital Oneness Mondays” post, not just your general blog address–that way if readers come by later in the week, they can click your relevant post.