The Benefits of Marriage survey listed companionship as the most commonly cited benefit. Some of its close relations were partnership, friendship, sharing joy/tragedy and best friend. What is the difference?
The partnership of spouses is far more than the everyday companionship offered in marriage. It entails a bond which is reminiscent of corporate mergers, sports teams and social associations. Partners take on or share similar ideals, theology, political attitudes, tenets and views of the world.
Marital finances were the subject of the most partnerships. A deal was struck between Mates which included such parameters as:
- Who would earn money
- Who would care for the household
- Who would administer funds
- How funds would be spent
- How money would be saved
- What entertainment was feasible
- Which personal habits would be foregone
While all of the examples were decisions which were specific to each couple, the last one was an example of marital growth. The partners recognized some personal habits impinged on the health of the relationship, including imprudent hobbies, smoking and drinking. They reached a level of compromise on the plane of the financial impact to the marriage without denigrating the Mate who otherwise would have spent marital assets to maintain such behavior.
This type of partnership negotiation and compromise is indicative of both healthy and lifelong marriages because personal (change, growth, sacrifice) is advocated without becoming a personal attack.
Sharing Joy & Tragedy
Sharing by Mates is different from the social sharing by friends and acquaintances. Mates have found more stable common ground than they can muster with Quaint. Look at some of the joys and tragedies to better understand the principle.
- Career advancement
- Job loss
- Birth of a child
- Death of a child
- Marriage of Quaint
- Divorce of Quaint
- Marriage of child
- Death of parents
In the privacy of the home, Mates share a depth of feeling they are unwilling or unable to share with Quaint. The trust between Mates allows for candid displays of emotions, both positive and negative, because they know judgment will not be forthcoming.
In cases of joy, the sharing is touching, but can often be very similar to that shared with Quaint. Mates need to be mindful to share the good times before they are merely memories.
The share of tragedy is a two-edged sword. Emotionally hard times are an opportunity for Mates to validate each other’s negative emotions, realize the depth of character in one another and help the other heal and grow personally.
The other sharp edge is the tragedy which reveals the fundamental differences between Mates which is irreconcilable. Tenets and faith, both in a higher power and in one another, are tested. Some marriages fail the test.
Despite BFF reports to the contrary, friendship is a valued and uncommon commodity. Quaints are often mistaken for friends, when in truth they are merely fair-weather-friends. When Mates are friends, especially if they are friends prior to marriage, they make it past the storms more easily than other couples.
Abiding friendship can survive divorce. These Mates can separate and retain the fundamental similarities which lead them to attempt marriage. Their mistake is often failing to recognize the difficulties of the intimate, constant exposure to Mate’s habits, dissimilar beliefs and idiosyncrasies.
In arranged marriages, Mates will commonly settle for friendship in lieu of marital love. They strive to stay within the boundaries of the common ground they find and make between them. Since friendships can survive poor choices, hurtful outbursts and basic disagreements, Mates who are friends can more easily agree to disagree without scrapping the relationship.
At a core level, if Mates are not friends, the outlook for marital survival is grim.
Ultimately, having mate as a best friend is the best of both worlds. The camaraderie of friendship coupled with the intimacy of marriage is a winning combination. Best friend Mate becomes:
- Partner in crime
- Sounding board
- Dream weaver
- Dream fulfillment
- Goal shaper
Best friends often lament after years of friendship they have not spent enough time together. Best friend Mates do not. They have the everyday exposure which gives them the opportunity to savor the fun which can be found in everyday activity, mold mundane experiences into fond memories and grow together.
Only one caveat surfaces when Mates are best friends: Mates still need other friends. When best friend Mates fail to include others in their lives, they can become myopic in their view of the world. Everyone needs exposure to others’ opinions and views to maintain perspective, gather adequate information and make healthy choices.
How does friendship affect the trust you place in Mate? Are there things you still share with friends you keep from Mate? Does Mate do the same thing?
(c) Ann Marie Dwyer 2012
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