Song of Songs 5:16 (NLT) – …my lover, my friend.
This is an excerpt from the new book “Real Romance: Sex in the Song of Songs”. To purchase the book, click here, and to access the sermon series that accompanies these devos and this book, click here.
In this scene, Abbi gives one of our favorite definitions of marriage in the entire Bible, referring to Solomon as her lover and friend, or what was the original Hebrew version of a married friend with benefits. Various English translations of Song of Songs 5:16 include “my beloved…my friend,” “my love…my friend,” “my darling…my friend,” and “my lover…my friend.”
Friendship in marriage is like gravity. It pulls the couple together even in tough times of trial when failures or frustrations try to pull us apart. According to the wife, it was their friendship that pulled them back together after their fight and their night apart.
Friendship between a husband and wife is absolutely crucial to a healthy and successful marriage. Too many religious people settle for functional marriages that lack fun. John Gottman, one of the most respected sociologists studying marriage today, has come to a crucial conclusion:
The determining factor in whether wives feel satisfied with the sex, romance, and passion in their marriage is, by 70 percent, the quality of the couple’s friendship. For men, the determining factor is, by 70 percent, the quality of the couple’s friendship. So men and women come from the same planet after all. (1)
Happy marriages are based on a deep friendship. By this I mean a mutual respect for and enjoyment of each other’s company. These couples tend to know each other intimately – they are well versed in each other’s likes, dislikes, personality quirks, hopes, and dreams. They have an abiding regard for each other and express this fondness not just in the big ways but in the little ways, day in and day out…Friendship fuels the flames of romance because it offers the best protection against feeling adversarial towards your spouse. (2)
The Bible talks a lot about love in the context of marriage. When Jesus said to love your neighbor (Matthew 10:19, 22:39; Mark 13:31; Luke 10:27), we should assume that love should begin with your nearest neighbor – your spouse. When we love someone, we build a friendship with them. Love is the root, and friendship is the fruit of a healthy marriage.
If you’re married, how is your friendship with your spouse? How can you continue to improve your friendship with your spouse?
- John Gottman and Nan Silver, The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work (New York: Three Rivers Press, 1999), 19.
- Ibid, 19-20.