Marriage is more than friendship
November 5, 2017 § Leave a comment
Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and shall cling to his wife, and they shall be as one flesh. (Gen 2.24; Lexham English Bible)
As regards ‘clinging’ in the external sense, or inner sense nearest to the literal, meaning a joining together, this may be seen without explanation; and as regards ‘clinging’ in the internal sense meaning charity, this is evident from the consideration that charity, or what amounts to the same, mutual love, is a spiritual joining together. For mutual love is a joining together of affections belonging to the will and a consequent agreement of thoughts belonging to the understanding, and so is a joining of minds as to both parts. (AC 3875.1)
Mutual love is different from friendship inasmuch as mutual love has a person’s good in view, and in directing itself towards that good is directed towards the person in whom good is present. Friendship however has the person in view, which is also mutual love when it looks at that person from the point of view of, that is, on account of, that good. But when it does not look at him from the point of view of good or on account of that good but on account of self which it calls good, friendship is not in that case mutual love but something close to the love of self. And insofar as it is close to this it is opposed to mutual love. (AC 3875.5)
We often talk about how our spouse should be our best friend. The above teachings shed a lot of light on how spouses should be best friends.
Married love, mutual love, and friendship are very intimately connected. Genuine married love will involve mutual love and true friendship. Two people can mutually love each other without being married to each other. They too will be true friends to each other. But you can also be friends with someone without mutually loving them.
Friendship without mutual love regards person without regard to good that is in him. It sees only his outward kindness, his regard for you, his behavior. It does not look beyond this to his character, to the good that is in him.
True friendship comes from mutual love. Mutual love regards the good in the other person and seeks to nurture that good. The nurturing of good in another can take many forms:
- encouraging good behavior
- criticism of pettiness
- explaining what is good and true
- showing the negative consequences
- and so many more.
A genuine marriage requires each person to be looking to the Lord and shunning evils as sins against Him. It also means practicing mutual love, that is, helping each other to become a better person. Genuine marriage means creating a higher common standard, not sinking to the lowest common standard. Each couple, of course, find their own unique ways of helping their spouses.