So often, you hear people speak of their spouses as their best friends. This actually bothers my husband and me, for a number of reasons, as it seems to lessen the marriage bond. I know the intent of saying it is to show how strong the marriage is, that the love goes beyond sex, and that’s good, but it doesn’t go far enough.
First, my relationship with my husband is sacramental. I have some great friendships, but none of them are sacramental. None of them bestow sanctifying grace like the marriage bond does.From the Catechism:
1638 “From a valid marriage arises a bond between the spouses which by its very nature is perpetual and exclusive; furthermore, in a Christian marriage the spouses are strengthened and, as it were, consecrated for the duties and the dignity of their state by a special sacrament.”142
1641 “By reason of their state in life and of their order, [Christian spouses] have their own special gifts in the People of God.”147 This grace proper to the sacrament of Matrimony is intended to perfect the couple’s love and to strengthen their indissoluble unity. By this grace they “help one another to attain holiness in their married life and in welcoming and educating their children.”148
My friendships are not permanent and exclusive. We tend to have different friendships at different points in our lives. Sometimes we have friends that are with us throughout the seasons in our lives, but even then the friendship tends to change, wax and wane. And while we should of course build each other up in our friendships, we still do not get that grace intended to strengthen the bond and “help each other attain holiness,” as in marriage.
No other relationship has been used to truly express the bond between God and the Church. We see friendships that are exalted, such as David and Jonathon, or Jesus and John, but those relationships are not used to describe the love between God and Church. We see God described as a loving Father, and images of breastfeeding used to describe how God cares for us, yet even those aren’t used to described His relationship with the Church. No, that distinction goes to marriage. We are, after all, awaiting the marriage supper of the Lamb (and also participating in that marriage supper when we receive the Eucharist).
1661 The sacrament of Matrimony signifies the union of Christ and the Church. It gives spouses the grace to love each other with the love with which Christ has loved his Church; the grace of the sacrament thus perfects the human love of the spouses, strengthens their indissoluble unity, and sanctifies them on the way to eternal life (cf. Council of Trent: DS 1799).
So, my best friend? No, my husband is much more than that. I pray our love may better reflect God’s love, that we may help each other to Heaven, and help our children to get there, too. I pray for God’s blessings on him, and us.
I think there’s a little confusion by what I mean. I absolutely do not mean that one shouldn’t want to spend time with their spouses doing activities often thought of as “best friend” activities: watching movies, chatting over tea, etc. Those things are great, and I definitely include those in the spousal relationship. My point, rather, is that, to me at least, it seems that saying “he’s my best friend” stops short of what marriage should be. I agree a lot with what Greg Popkak says in his blog, where he says spouses should be best friends because he thinks they should be spending that time together and enjoying each other’s company. I agree, I just don’t characterise it as a best friend type of relationship. Maybe we’re just using different terms or I’m being too picky, I don’t know. I know I do not agree with this post by Mark Judge that says a person should have a best friend who is almost equal to his spouse.