Another Dating Blog: I’m Not Marrying My Best Friend

The Author

I am a native Texan, cradle Catholic, and lover of live music and all things chocolate. I graduated with my MA in Marriage, Couple and Family Counseling from Texas State University, and am currently a Catholic counselor. I love writing, and have been in love with it since the 3rd grade when I wrote a response to 'The Polar Express'. Ever since that day I have been writing about what I see, trying to make sense of myself and the world I live in.

Okay, so before you flip and lid and think, “Oh, no! How tragic! She’s settling for less than!”, just hear me out.

I hear it over and over again:

“I can’t wait to marry my best friend!”

“Make sure you marry your best friend.”

“He’s not just my husband, he’s my best friend!”

Now I’m not doggin’ that use of language, or the excitement behind it. It’s cool to feel that happy about marrying someone. I’m just saying that Danger is not my best friend. He’s my soon-to-be-husband.

In my girl brain, those are two very different things. If I knew how to insert fancy graphics in this blog post, I’d use a venn diagram to illustrate my point. Alas, I will have to rely on my use of the magical, confusing English language.

To me the similarities between a best friend and a spouse are thus:

  1. Someone you can have open, honest (sometimes brutally) communication.
  2. Someone you can share your hopes and dreams and failures with.
  3. Someone you can count on to comfort you when you do the ugly cry, or celebrate with you when you’re silly-excited.
  4. Someone you spend more time with than others.
  5. Someone you don’t mind wearing pajamas in front of. Or no makeup. Or messy hair.
  6. Someone who can drive you crazy with frustration, but you still love them to pieces.
  7. Someone you’d do anything for.
  8. Someone you can hang with doing nothing, and it’s not weird or boring.
  9. Someone you have traditions with, like watching all the ‘Twilight’ movies and laughing at them, or going to Kerbey Lane every Monday night for pancakes (aka nature’s most perfect food).
  10. Someone you can pray with. Peeps that pray together, stay together!

And the list goes on, I’m sure. But there are some crucial differences between your best friend and your spouse. For example, you are called to be physically intimate with your spouse, and not your best pal (augh, weird!). You are called to have children with your spouse, and not your best friend. You build a house and a home with your spouse. You have committed the rest of your life to your spouse, meaning you follow them to Antarctica if they move to Antarctica, whereas you are not really required to move around the world to follow your friend (though if you do, you’re being pretty intense, like let’s-talk-about-boundaries intense).

And one of the biggest differences: Your spouse is only a spouse while in relation to you – their life role dissolves if you leave. Whereas, your best friend’s life role is not defined by their relationship to you. Their life role is defined by their relationship to THEIR spouse.

Now, this isn’t to take away from the importance of the role of your best friend. We need them, too! It’s not like we’re limited to having a spouse OR a BFF, as if there’s a Score Keeper of Best Friends, and when he sees you have one, that’s it – no more BFF’s for you!

Our best friends are important, and we are blessed to have them. But putting our spouse in the role of our best friend, takes that role away from our lovely lady friends or our awesome guy buddies. The role of best friend also doesn’t describe the intricate, intense, intimate nature of your sacred, Sacramental bond (yay alliteration!) with your spouse. To me, my best friend is my best friend. And my husband is my husband (soon-to-be). They are different roles, both beloved and both needed, that require different levels of intimacy, commitment and time spent.

For me, I like respecting their defined roles in my life, because it helps to guide me on how to be in relationship with them. For example: If my best friend calls saying she broke her leg, I’ll ask her at what hospital she is being treated, go visit with chocolate or flowers, and help her Bedazzle her cast. Whereas, if my spouse breaks his leg, I’ll probably be at home to hear it, drive him to the ER myself, fill out his paperwork, be there with a Kleenex to catch any manly tears that manage to escape his steely man eyes, be the first to tell him his cast looks rugged, sign him out of the hospital, pay for the bill with our money, drive him home, nurse him back to health and also run the household until he can move around again.  Different roles, different expectations, and different actions for two defined, separate people.

In closing, I am so blessed to have best friends in addition to my fiance. I’m still learning the balance of being a good best friend to my girls, and a good fiancee to my Danger – something I will be sure to explore out loud next time around. In the meantime, I’m gonna keep being excited to marry my beloved, with my best friends at my side.

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  • T

    Nice post. Your post also acts as a good reminder that our friends are important and that the person with whom we have a relationship girlfriend/boyfriend/fiance/spouse is not the ONLY person with whom we have a relationship. It is important to be part of our community and maintain friendships that support us in our vocation. The thing your post doesn’t address is people like me: I don’t have a best friend save for the person I am dating who has come to fill that role (but not only that role). I am not saying you have a problem with that; I know you don’t. Its a related but separate issue: coming to grips with not having a best friend has been annoying and lonely over the years because everyone talks about how they’re having a great time with their “bestie.” So I am not sure I agree with your statement: “We need [our best friends] too!” Because, well, if I get married, my best friend is also my spouse, and I’ve come to see that its fine not to have a separate person to fill that role. But maybe all of this can be addressed in the definition of a “best friend.”

    • Britt Holan

      Thanks T for your comment. It’s always nice to get more perspective on an issue. You’re totally right: a term like “best friend” is culturally defined based on a common agreement to what that is – but it’s not the end all be all. It can be difficult when the group norm agrees on something that you don’t agree with or experience. I think we all have those moments, and that’s okay too (I experience that a lot myself). And if your spouse is also your best friend, awesome. And if you find a best friend one day? That’s awesome, too. And if you don’t? Guess what – STILL awesome. Thanks again for reading!

  • Barbara Morales

    Brittany, very well said! I feel the same exact way, but did not know how to put it in words. Thanks for making me understand why I couldn’t relate with people who said, “Make sure you marry your best friend!”

  • Geoffrey Miller

    Sorry, Britt. According to your definitions, the attributes you have described for a best friend constitute a proper subset of spousal attributes. Therefore, all spouses are best friends but not all best friends are spouses.

    It’s just like how all squares are quadrilaterals but not all quadrilaterals are squares. Saying, “A right angle is proper to a square but not to a rhombus” directly parallels statements like, “Physical intimacy is proper to a spouse but not to a nonromantic best friendship.”

    In order to establish that your spouse is, in fact, not your best friend, you must name one positive attribute (lack of physical affection or any other negated attribute doesn’t count) that exists in a best friendship but not in a spousal relationship. In the terms of set theory:

    Let S be the set of all spousal attributes and F be the set of all best friend attributes. Then F ⊄ S ⟺ F∖S ≠ ∅. But you have not found x ∈ F such that x ∉ S, so as it stands, your argument is invalid.

    Aren’t you glad you know me, Britt? ;-)

  • Jenni

    “Whereas, your best friend’s life role is not defined by their relationship to you. Their life role is defined by their relationship to THEIR spouse.”

    Not really. One of your best friend’s life roles is being your friend. Every person has many life roles – their job, their relationship to their boss and subordinates and customers/clients, their role as a neighbor, as a citizen, as a caretaker, as a steward, as an annoying gadfly, as a parishioner, as a stranger in the supermarket cereal aisle, etc.

    People aren’t defined by their marriages or by their position as another individual’s spouse (this is the mistake that some same-sex marriage advocates make.) Unmarried people are whole and complete people, too.

  • Irene Holan

    Very well said. I didn’t marry my best friend either. I married the man that’s been in my life for 51 years.

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