A marriage based on friendship is one that has the strength and the power to endure. Passion is important, but friendship is strong stuff. Friendship creates a firm security that makes just being together renew your spirit. It's the place in marriage that's like a warm blanket on a cold winter night -- a place of serenity, peace, calm, and joy.

Marriage to your very best friend is the deepest of friendships. You can share everything in confidence, talk endlessly about your dreams, and care deeply for each other. In fact, your sharing continues even when words are not spoken -- your spouse's mere presence is your peace.

I love the biblical statement: "This is my lover, this my friend" (Song of Songs 5:16). It says it all. This is the best friend you'll ever have; you'll share more with this person than with any other friend you have in a lifetime. You share your life, your future, and your body with this very special friend.

Marriage is the ultimate in friendship; it has all the qualities of a good friendship and then some. Good friendships are a give-and-take proposition; marriage is even more so. Other key qualities of friendship include the following: friends can say almost anything to one another, friends are confidants and keep certain things confidential, friends counsel and advise one another, friends listen, friends make sacrifices for the other person, they have no hidden agendas, they can always be counted on, they have fun together, and friends overlook the small stuff.

Good friendships are never selfish. The apostle Paul told the Philippians, "Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others" (Philippians 2:4). This is great advice for a marriage relationship as well.

Unselfish love is putting the needs of your spouse first. Genuine love flourishes in giving. Robert Moeller in his book To Have and to Hold prefers to call it "giving love" rather than "making love": "Making love sounds too much like the mechanical joining of a male and female body. Giving love sounds much more like the sharing of your soul, your affection, your respect, your deepest concern, and you heart with another person." The best sex is the mutual giving of our body to our spouse -- nobody should be making anyone have sex; that's selfish and using the other person for your personal gratification and purpose. But when you give love, you're concentrating on the other person's pleasure and enjoyment; you're loving your spouse, not using him or her.

Another aspect of friendship in marriage is "a friend loves at all times" (Proverbs 17:17). This type of love goes the distance. It endures through a bout with the flu, through ten checks that bounce at the bank, through the car that won't start on Monday morning, through conflicts with parents, and through disagreements over how to squeeze the toothpaste tube. Through all that, friends love. Friendship is the bricks of marriage -- passionate sex is the cement.

God Wants Your Marriage to be Fun

Marriage is definitely serious business, not to be taken lightly or to be thought of as temporary or just until the romance fades. But God wants you also to have fun. Marriage is a relationship with the person who means more to you than any other relationship you will have. This person is your soul mate who knows and cares about you better than anyone (even your mother). So be joyful, be playful. There's an old song that says, "Accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative." Do that. When life is good, enjoy it. Learn to be content with what you have and live in the moment. Don't misunderstand me, you need to have dreams and make plans for your future, and God has promised us a great future (Jeremiah 29:11), but be sure you enjoy getting there. Too many couples get so wrapped up in what will be that they miss the fun they can have along the way. Most of the fun is in achieving your dreams.

When you laugh, laugh together. Laughter with each other and at what's happening in life will get you through a lot. Never have fun at your partner's expense. Be sensitive to each other's needs and "sore spots." Don't make fun of the fact that he's not handy with a hammer; don't criticize her cooking; don't make fun of weight gain. But do learn to laugh at yourself.

Try new things too: Go on an adventure, drive to a new town and see something different. In marriage you can experience each other's interests as well as your sexuality. God doesn't limit your joy -- you do.

Adapted from "The Joy of Marriage God's Way" featuring Beverly LeHaye  © 2003. Used by special permission of Integrity Publishers. For any other use, please contact Integrity Publishers for permission. All rights reserved.