The Philosopher, Plato, once quoted a story from Greek mythology that said human beings “were originally created with four arms, four legs and a head with two faces.”
The king of the gods, Zeus, afraid of the power that humans might wield, decided to limit them, splitting them into two different people which resulted in them spending the rest of their lives seeking their other half.
From this myth arose the idea of the soul mate, that special person who is said to complete you and with whom you want to spend the rest of your life.
Some of you may cringe at the idea of your partner being your soul mate – I agree it can be overstated at times – but I think that at the heart of the concept is the idea of friendship.
And what could be better than being married to someone who is also your best friend?
It must be said, however, that the idea of friendship/the soul mate is not something that just happens in a relationship. Like everything else in life that is worthwhile, a growing and fulfilling friendship with your spouse is the result of intentionality.
One of my favourite books my mum read to me as a child began like this: “A friend is someone who likes you…”
All friendships begin at this point – you like the other person – but how does the friendship grow?
It grows as you spend quality time together, discovering you share a number of interests with each other.
To quote the Greeks again, the word for this “friendship love” is “philia.”
Philia meant that you had genuine, warm feelings toward the other person and that you shared a number of common interests and activities.
This is how friendship in marriage develops as well.
You obviously like each other – you are married – but what do you enjoy doing together?
Over the course of my marriage with Karen we have developed a great number of interests and activities in common and one of the things I have learned is that for an interest to be shared, you do not have to both “be into it” it from the outset.
This is what I mean.
When I met Karen, she could not tell you the difference between a googly or an out swinger, so in the early stages of our friendship and marriage, I introduced her to the joys of watching that greatest of all sports, cricket!
On the other hand, I could not dance to save my life but Karen loves dancing. Thanks to her tutelage and encouragement, I have regularly braved the dance floor with her over the years and now instead of looking like I have three left feet, it only looks like I have two!
The point here is that we both chose to show an interest in what each other liked and discovered the joy of not only learning something new but also spending fun time together.
Some years ago James Dobson quoted research that demonstrated that one of the key elements that predicted longevity in marriage was that the couple had various “interests in common and genuinely liked doing things together.”
Sadly, this factor is often missing in marriage.
A husband returns home at the end of the day and after exchanging a few pleasantries with his wife, quickly retreats to his shed or garage.
Or a wife chooses the company of her friends more regularly than the opportunity of being out with her husband.
A growing friendship with each other is an important aspect of a healthy marriage.
If you are struggling with doing something together as a couple, why not start by talking about the things you enjoyed doing together when you were dating?
Who knows, a night out at a bowling alley could end up being the best fun you have had together in years!
This post was published on Pastor Rob’s blog at robfurlong.net