You know that often heard sentiment, “Marry your best friend”? or “My spouse is my best friend”? I hate those sayings. Is your spouse really your best friend? Really? Because mine is certainly NOT my best friend.
I have had many “best friends” throughout the years. My best friend in elementary school was not my best friend in high school. My best friend in college didn’t last past commencement. My best friend in graduate school became my Facebook friend several years later as she and I lived states apart. I had a best friend at work but then I changed jobs. I had a best friend here and there as an adult but I’ve found that adult friendships can ebb and flow with time, circumstance, and often, whim. In my experience, “best friends” do not last the test of time, emotionally charged situations, or stress.
My marriage, however, has.
He is my partner.
He is my partner in parenting. No decision is made for our children without the other’s input. If something is wrong with one of our children, he is the first I call. If one of our children has an outstanding achievement, he is the first I tell. Those little humans are ours and no one else’s. We made them together, we parent them together. I’ve never shared such an enormous responsibility with a “best friend”.
He is my partner in business. Our home is essentially a business with money going in and money coming out. Every major (and most minor) purchases are discussed with each other or are transparent to each other. We don’t have separate bank accounts or credit cards. We both work our asses off for this family making as much money as we can. Every dollar earned is shared. We are each equally responsible for every bill or expense we may incur. I will not judge married couples who choose to have one partner stay home to care for the kids. However, that is not how my marriage works. We both work, we work to earn as much money as we possibly can, and we both find a way to manage our expenses. If one of us treats ourselves to an indulgence, the other does as well. If we decide to buckle down on those indulgences, we do so together. There are no surprise gifts to each other as we both take time every month to review our bank account statements and credit card statements. We buy those gifts as a couple. Anytime a “best friend” and I have attempted to share some sort of financial responsibility it has NOT ended well.
He is my other half.
He completes me (pardon the very obvious Jerry Maguire reference but it’s so true). If I go too long without talking to him, I get twitchy. If we go too long without seeing each other, I feel lost and lonely. If we go too long without some good quality alone time, I get anxious and actually worry that our marriage will implode simply because we disconnected. If he is angry with me, I’m miserable. No “best friend” has ever fulfilled that need for a human connection as he has.
He is my opposite.
He is impulsive to my cautious. He is loud to my quiet. He is rough to my smooth. He is street smart to my book smart. He is a numbers guy and I’m a words girl. He thinks big picture and I think about the details. He is a republican and I am a democrat (gasp!).”Best friends” cannot be such opposites and be “best friends”. They are friends because they have things in common or because they can connect on some issue, circumstance, or belief. My husband and I are opposites and it’s because of those opposite qualities that we work. We help each other see “the other side” so we are more well-rounded and more open-minded. He makes sure we have fun, I make sure we stay safe. He makes sure we have enough money for our dreams, I make sure we can pay that month’s electric bill. I make sure our children get their homework done, he makes sure they laugh. I make sure he eats well, he makes sure I treat myself. Our lives are completely intertwined and we like it that way.
No, my husband is not my best friend. I have never been so angry at a best friend that I wanted to throw something. I’ve never cried over something a best friend has done or said. I’ve never literally ached in my bones from missing a best friend. I’ve never looked at a best friend and been emotionally overwhelmed by the intensity of my feelings in that moment. No, my husband is not my best friend. He is much, much more.
This summer we celebrate 23 years together and 16 years of marriage. My advice to those younger couples out there? Don’t marry your best friend. Marry someone better.