The Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary defines the word FRIEND as “someone who is not an enemy and who you can trust. A person who you know well and who you like a lot..”
Because people have different interests, backgrounds and orientations, research and experiences have shown that it is only when you marry your friend of the opposite sex that you can enjoy your marriage. This presupposes that you understand the vital criteria for picking such friend. For instance, the fact that someone gives you money every day is not enough qualification for the person to become your spouse. But if your marriage ceremony is more important to you than the marriage itself, you can ignore this counsel.
Although the internet has in recent years provided a platform for people all over the world to socialize more, the number of TRUE friends has decreased. Having 1,000 facebook friends does not necessarily translate into having true friends.
Many people desire to marry a true friend. The truth is that you can hardly enjoy your marriage if your spouse is not your friend. To confirm whether or not your spouse is your friend, you need to answer the following questions:
1. Am I Naked Before My Spouse?: “The man and his wife were both naked and felt no shame” (Genesis 2:25). Does your spouse know your salary or have access to your source of income? Do you embark on a building project or any gigantic project without the knowledge of your spouse? Do you sleep in a separate bedroom? Do you cheat your spouse in financial transactions? If you are not transparent (naked) to your spouse, you are not a true friend of your spouse.
2. Do I Tell My Spouse Bitter Truth About My Spouse?: “Better is open rebuke than hidden love. Wounds from a friend can be trusted but an enemy multiplies kisses” (Proverbs 27:5-6). You should be the only person that can tell your spouse the truth about any issue involving the person without any resultant quarrel. If your spouse cannot trust your rebuke or counsel, it is either that you have a problem of unreliability or communication method or you need the help of a marriage counsellor. If you support or encourage sinful activities of your spouse, you are not a true friend.
3. Do I Love My Spouse At All Times?: “A friend loves at all times” (Proverbs 17:17) In your life and marital journey. There are different times and seasons (Ecclesiastes 3). For those who took a marital vow at the altar in church, or registry, you vowed “to love and to hold, for better for worse, to love in plenty, in poverty, in good health and sickness; to nurse and to honour you according to the will of God till death do you path.” Are you living up to this vow? Or you have forgotten about it? If your love for your spouse has dropped because of protracted illness, financial challenges, delayed childbirth, in-laws palava, gender of children or any other reason, you are not a true friend at all.
4. Am I Sexually Disciplined?: If you can commit adultery for a simple reason that your spouse is not close by, you are actually an enemy of your spouse. You are even an enemy of God. “You shall not commit adultery” (Exodus 20:14).
5. Do I Forgive Offences?: What is that sin that cannot be forgiven? You might have asked your spouse for sexual pleasure sometime and it was refused. It is pardonable. Your spouse might have lied to you or cheated you financially. It is pardonable. Your spouse could have done series of wrongs and you have kept records of them and refused to forgive. If your spouse or anyone for that matter wrongs you and you hold it against the person, the implication is that you cannot kneel down to pray until you have settled the scores. Pray to which God? Jesus said: “For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins” (Matthew 6:14 NIV). If you cannot forgive your spouse offences almost before your spouse apologises, you are not a true friend to your spouse. You should be able to forgive even without apology because your spouse is a part of you.
6. Am I A Good Listener?: If you cannot be patient enough to listen to your spouse’s complaint or even suggestion, you are not a good friend. If your spouse finds it difficult to approach you for cordial discussions, requests or complaints about you, your friendship has a question mark.
7. Am I Willing To Sacrifice Time & Money When I Have Them?: “Wives, be subject to your husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Saviour. As the church is subject to Christ, so let wives also be subject in everything to their husbands. Husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.
Even so, husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife, loves himself…however, let each one of you love his wife as himself and let the wife see that she respects her husband” (Ephesians 5:22-25, 28, 33). If you find it difficult to give money or time to your spouse when you have them, you are not a true friend. If you cannot give your spouse information concerning your salary, income or bank account, you are not a true friend. If you cannot forget your handbag, cheque book or ATM card with your spouse, you are not a true friend. If you cannot assist your spouse with domestic or official assignment where it is possible, examine your ways. Do not always expect a payback each time you give to your spouse. Your spouse is a part of you (Genesis 2:23-24). Therefore, you are expected to work together for a common interest and not to pursue separate interests at the detriment of the relationship. A heart of true friendship cannot accommodate selfish interest.
8. Do I Really Care About My Spouse?: If you are hardly moved or feel concerned when your spouse has a problem, you are not a true friend.
9. Do I Tolerate Or Accommodate My Spouse’s Weakness(es)?: If you are looking for perfection in your spouse, you may not achieve the friendliness that your marriage requires for sustenance. Remember, you are not perfect. If you cast your mind back sometimes, you would recall that the weakness was visibly there before you married your spouse. If you cannot accommodate your spouse’s weakness, you are not a true friend.
10. Do I Keep Confidential Issues Confidential?: If you expose confidential issues that involve your family to third parties that have no positive contribution to improving your marital relationship, you are not a true friend to your spouse.
FOR COUNSEL & PRAYERS CONTACT:
Pastor Albinus Chiedu
Also, read my MARRIAGE CLINIC Column in Saturday Telegraph Newspaper every Saturday