I have lots of best friends - best friends from high school, college, seminary, various jobs; neighbor best friends and relative best friends and running best friends. I love them all (you know who you are!) For me, 'best friend' is a category, and I can quickly count about 10 people right now who are in it, who would drop everything if I needed them, who I can't wait to call and catch up with. They are men and women, near and far, people I talk with every day and those I am lucky if I see once a year. My husband, however, is not in that 10. I love my husband totally, trust him with my life, and share every detail of my hopes and dreams. But I am always perplexed when I hear other people talk about their spouses as their 'best friend', because I never think of my husband in that way. There are a few reasons why:
- Our relationship is incomparable. I love my best friends so much, and could not do without them. And my relationship with my husband is something different, and I would never put him in a group category in terms of what we mean to each other. Likewise, my friendships are uniquely important to me.
- Our worlds are not completely enmeshed. We do talk about our lives at work, or with our families of origin, or with our other friends. But we don't live in those worlds with each other. So if I want to hash out the meaning of a change in church policy, for instance, I will spend that time with any number of church friends. My husband will get the notes, if that, in our 'how was your day' time. He is interested in supporting me, but my church best friends are interested in the topic. The same goes for him and his work life.
- He doesn't know everything. Even though I would never keep secrets from my husband, there is, I think, a time to keep some mystery. The bathroom door stays closed. I never floss in front of him. And there are some issues - health and grooming related, mostly - that I talk about in detail only with my girlfriends. Or Google. Which also leads to...
- 'Best friends' is so... unsexy. Physical intimacy is the one easily definable thing that distinguishes my relationship with my husband from every other relationship. I like to keep that in mind, and in that sense we are definitely not 'friends'. When I see him smile at me across a room, I assure you I am not thinking about how we divide the household chores. And I like that.
- 'So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.' This line from Genesis (and Jesus) still holds truth, even as my husband and I ponder it as divorced people, and others from a marriage that is not 'a man and a woman'. Even in our discernment of how we fit into this framework, there is still, at its base, the idea that marriage is sanctified and secured by God. This sets it apart from every other relationship that we have, and this is something to cling to.
My husband is my soul mate, my lover, my partner in crime and my one and only. And I am happy to say he is not my best friend.