As many of you know, I love reading good marriage books. I read them so I can recommend them to others. Even more so I read them to grow in my marriage.
A friend recently connected me with Kevin Thompson, a pastor and author in Fort Smith, Arkansas. He has a new book on marriage coming out on October 16 (Happily: 8 Commitments of Couples Who Laugh, Love & Last), but in today’s post I want to share a great concept I learned in his first marriage book, Friends, Partners, and Lovers: What it Takes to Make Your Marriage Work. It’s hard to condense the great content in a 200-page book to one blog post, but here’s what you need to know.
Read Genesis 2:18-25. This is the account of God’s creation of man and woman and their relationship. Thompson writes that when God created Adam and Eve, they were created to help fill three primary roles in each other’s lives. You guessed it: Friend, Partner, and Lover.
- Friend: Eve is a suitable fit for the man. They have a friendship and live as companions in the Garden. Their relationship and friendship is different than the man’s relationship with any other loving creature.
- Partner: The man and woman, before the fall, were given some tasks to accomplish together. They had to work as partners to best steward together what God had created.
- Lovers: The man and woman were together, naked, and without shame. This makes their relationship completely different than any other human relationship. God designs us for romance and intimacy in marriage.
God gave Adam a friend, partner, and lover in one person
Unfortunately, the fall of man, as recorded in Genesis 3, shows what happens when sin comes into relationships. Adam and Eve felt the consequences of the fall and we have as well ever since. In this book, Thompson shows us how the relationship broke, how this affects our roles as friends, partners, and lovers, and how we can help restore some of the ideal.
Friendship: Trust and Understanding
Your spouse should be your best friend. Consistently work to build your friendship by doing the things friends do together. Spend time together, date each other, and have fun! Marriage requires friendship and friendship requires time. Thompson makes a few additional suggestions:
- Your spouse should be your “first person.” This means your spouse is the first person you share good or bad news with. I love that Kristen is the person I want to celebrate with and the first person to pray for me and with me.
- If you’re not married, find someone you can suffer well with. This past weekend I officiated the funeral for a dear friend and mentor who passed away after a long battle with health issues. His wife suffered so well with him. You have no idea what the future holds for you and your spouse. Marry someone you will suffer well with because it’s guaranteed to come in one form or another.
- Note: this does not mean your spouse is your only friend or should meet all your relational needs.
In my humble opinion, the partner role seems to be one of the unique contributions of this book. Many books talk about friendship and physical intimacy, but not many books talk about the partner role your spouse must play. This aspect is not fun or romantic, but it’s necessary! You and your spouse have to make decisions, pay bills, work through your schedule together, and get stuff done around the house. If you don’t play the partner role, bills don’t get paid, kids don’t make it to school, and trash builds up in your garage.
- A good partnership in marriage must include healthy communication and conflict resolution. At times we might need to use “hard words” (lovingly wound), but never “harsh words.” Be humble and honest in your communication.
- Marriage at its best is looking out for the interests of the other. Ask your spouse this question: “What’s one way I can help you today?”
- In healthy marriages, we can point out the blind spots and encourage the strengths we see in our spouse.
Lover: Intimacy and Connection
The lover role is of course unique to the marriage relationship. While we are friends with many, partners to some (i.e., business), we are only a lover to one other person. The biggest misconception for premarried and newly married couples is that physical intimacy will be easy and natural. The best way to grow the lover relationship is to communicate with each other about intimacy in a safe, caring, open, and productive way.
- When is the last time you had a meaningful conversation with your spouse about sex?
- Sex should get better over time as you grow in experience, trust, confidence, and as you learn more about each other.
- Thompson shares two, outside the bedroom habits of good lovers: frequent eye contact and non-sexual touch.
- He provides some great suggestions on how to make some small tweaks to spice up intimacy!
- Your kids need to know the right order/priority of your relationships. Don’t be child-centered in marriage and don’t let them destroy intimacy.
So now what? Your Turn:
As you read through the list above, where do you need to take the most ground?
Spend some time thinking through where you’re doing well and where you need to grow. Discuss with your spouse. I’d recommend reading the book, so check it out if you’re interested in learning more!
Comment below on which area you most need to take ground: friend, partner, or lover. I’ll pick one winner from the comments below and buy you a copy of the book (hard copy, Kindle, or audiobook—your choice).
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