"It is not a lack of love, but a lack of friendship that makes unhappy marriages." Fredrich Nietzsche
Look at the list (whether it's mental or written down somewhere) of the qualities you want in the person you want to marry. Did "like" or "friend" make the list? Sure you might want them to be attractive, intelligent, successful, funny, witty, able to cook, adventurous, etc. But have you ever thought about actually needing to "like" the person you're in a relationship with? Don't look at me with that tone of voice! I'm not talking about liking things about them, what they have or where they are in life. I'm talking about actually really "liking" them as a person. It's not such a weird question if you think about it a bit. The first thing we say about someone who doesn't have the qualities we're looking for, is 'I didn't like him/her'. We've ventured away from the importance of friendship being a very fundamental quality needed in our relationships. It's a pretty simple principle, but we're missing it and our relationships are suffering as a result. Putting love before friendship, is the equivalent of putting the cart before the horse, so to speak.
When we meet someone new we have a desire to get to know them, what they like, who they are and we choose to spend time with them to learn more. Minus romance, we call them friends. Friends get to know who you really are, you share things in common, they see you on good and bad days and they choose to be around on the bad days. Friends probably know how you look with no makeup and when you are not at your best. Friends confide in you and you in them. There is a certain time and energy needed to build and nurture a good friendship. Fondness, a bond and trust are formed when both parties are willing to contribute to building a lasting friendship. Friends care about you wholeheartedly and there aren't any reasons to hide things from them because you trust them with just about everything. When love comes from friendship it's a choice a person makes to love the whole person, faults and all. However, they are empowered to make an informed chose because there hasn't been a lot of false representations presented to them that have to be sifted through.
The period of courtship/friendship that usually gets jumped over between first meeting and marriage is a vital time needed for sustaining a life long relationship. Love needs to be practiced and growing a friendship gives us time to learn how our significant other needs to be loved. Being friends first means you're spending the quality time, sharing similar interests, doing activities together, talking, sharing and laughing together. These are the fundamental things that glue good relationships together. So when the cars break down, the money gets funny, the clothes get too small and gravity catches our bodies off guard, the fundamental bond of friendship will remind and keep the two friends together in love. The foundation was laid and it will be all that matters at the end of the day. Love really is friendship set on fire.
Children often say they want to marry their best friends when they grow up. We can learn a lot from our children about loving and how important friendship is to our marriages.
With Love & Gratitude,
~C. Nzingha Smith