How Can We Make Our Marriage a Better Friendship?

The Long Road to Joy

Friendship invites others into our lives—to join us in both our joys and our struggles. Marriage presents a much more complex relationship than simple friendship, which means there is more potential for areas of disagreement. But Dr. David Powlison, counselor and faculty member at the Christian Counseling and Education Foundation (CCEF), does not believe this is any reason to lose hope. Looking to Scripture, he shows how God has committed Himself to bringing about the qualities of friendship within a marriage.

David has been practicing biblical counseling for over 30 years and has written numerous articles on counseling and on the relationship between faith and psychology. His books include Speaking Truth in Love, Seeing with New Eyes, Power Encounters, and The Biblical Counseling Movement: History and Context.  

David started by offering two contrasting postures towards relationships. On the one hand, he shared the things that sabotage a friendship (striving for moral superiority, scorn, bitterness, escapism, etc.). These attitudes create walls that distance friends. On the other hand, committed friendship grows out of commitment and care for each other. It invites the other person into our life. 

Would you characterize yourself as having a deep friendship with your spouse? If not, what obstacles stand in the way? What would you like to see change?
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David shared a number of attitudes that have the potential to sabotage friendship (striving for moral superiority, scorn, bitterness, brooding, escapism, etc.). Can you identify any of these in your own life? If so, which ones? How do you see them affecting your relationship with your spouse?
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Friendship invites others to share with us in both our joys and our struggles. Do you find it challenging to be candid about the highs and lows in your life? If so, why? How could you invite your spouse into both areas of your life?
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David pointed out how the psalms consistently embody the qualities of a good friendship. At a base level, they reveal trust and the willingness to confess, listen, and share. Do you and your spouse have a healthy level of trust in your relationship? If not, why? Are there any barriers that cause you to struggle with trust?
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Because of the complexities of marriage, there are more areas of the relationship that have the potential for disagreement. What are some of the areas in your marriage that cause the most disagreement? How well do you and your spouse navigate them? How would you like to improve? What steps will you take to begin that process of change this week (confession, asking for help, prayer, etc.)?
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 David said, “Marriage always has things to negotiate, but they are so worth the negotiating in order to start to move towards another person with grace.” The road to friendship is often long and hard, but it is one that ends up in joy, just like our relationship with God. As you consider your own marriage, take the risk of vulnerability. Invite your spouse into your joys and your struggles, and trust God to bring about the qualities of friendship between you both.

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