So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit. Ephesians 2:19-22, ESV
I love weddings. I love dancing and celebrating and giving people black eyes while I attempt to catch the bouquet. It’s not that I’m desperate to be the next one married, far from it. I just like winning. There’s always a moment somewhere in the evening where I get this weird, sinking melancholy. Because as happy as I am, I know things are about to change. I’m about to get left behind.
It’s not personal. I know my friend didn’t get up one day and decide, “How can I push Marebs out of my life but not be a total stick about it? I KNOW. I’ll get married!” It doesn’t matter if they’re my best friend or on the fringes of my social circle; I experience a deep sense of loss. Maybe that’s self-absorbed. But it is what it is.
Some friends have been better than others in navigating this transition. I don’t think there’s a guidebook to maintaining friendships when one of you gets married. You just have to figure it out, and you both need to want to. Sometimes years long friendships vanish virtually overnight. But whether we’re married or single, we need relationships with the other. It doesn’t look the same as friendships between two singles or two people who are married; it’s more challenging in some ways. But I think it’s worth it. We have so much to learn from each other.
When we hang out with people whose lives look different than ours, we begin to see things differently. We are expanded. It’s not comfortable, but it is good.
It doesn’t need to be anything dramatic. Invite each other over for dinner. Do some random errand together. Letting someone into your life sends a powerful message. It is also healthy. We need each other.
I’m lucky to have the friends that I have, steadfast friends committed to our relationship. I remember when two of my very good friends started dating, and I found myself feeling anxious. Things got serious between them. I was ecstatic and melancholic and frustrated all at once. They sensed the friction, and individually sat me down to verbalize their commitment to our friendships. I didn’t know how afraid I was of losing both of them until they said they weren’t going anywhere. I believed them because I know them. They say what they mean. They keep the promises they make.
It hasn’t been perfect, but I have been so grateful to be their friend and get an insight into their relationship. It’s not always great. They still struggle with all the normal human things. But they are committed to each other, and they’re figuring it out. Their transparency has been a balm to any notion of marriage as a cure for my personal shirt.
I’d like to think being friends with me has been good for them as well. I’m not going to put words in their mouths. It’s very unhygienic. I think they would agree that it is unfair and unhealthy to put all of their personal relational needs onto each other. When marriage gets too insular, it gets icky. Be one flesh, by all means, but your spouse is just a person who isn’t made to fill your need for connection. You gotta spread that around.
I like the last sentence of the passage I started with: “In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.” One of the coolest thing about being part of the body of Christ is that we get to be friends with so many different kinds of people. We’re together, one whole church, married or single or divorced or widowed. That’s a gift. God knows that we are a stronger and more vibrant (and frankly more attractive) church when we’re a bunch of misfits with mismatched life circumstance who are all crammed together and being forced to love each other.
But it takes all of us to buy in. It’s hard. But it is so good.