How to Become Your Spouse’s Best Friend

What does marriage have to do with leadership? If you are married, everything. Nothing will undermine your effectiveness as a leader faster than a bad marriage. Your marriage is a living example of what it is like to be in a close relationship with you. This is why it is so important that leaders get this right if they want to influence others.

A Couple, Riding Bikes and Hoding Hands Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/Renphoto, Image #10291317

Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/Renphoto

Unfortunately, we live in a culture that is very me-centered. Gail and I often talk to people who are frustrated with their spouses. Most of this stems from the fact that they are not getting what they think they need or what they think they should be getting.

I am not saying that it is wrong to give voice to your needs. I am saying that it is often an ineffective way to get them met, unless you first sow the seeds of giving and servanthood. (This is also good practice for being a leader in any sphere of life.)

Gail and I have been married for 33 years next month. We can both honestly say that we are one another’s best friends. We talk constantly, go on long walks together, and eat almost every meal together. We just love being in each other’s company.

But what if you don’t have this kind of relationship with your spouse? We work with enough couples to know that this kind of intimacy and friendship is rare.

But, honestly, we are not special. I don’t want to be naive, but I don’t think it is that difficult—if you are willing to make the investment.

If you are, then I would recommend three steps:

  1. Make a list of what you would want in a best-friend. If you were going to advertise on Craig’s List for a best friend, what would the ad look like? Perhaps it might look like this:
    Wanted: Best Friend

    Prospective candidates will:

    • Make me feel good about being me.
    • Affirm my best qualities (especially when I am feeling insecure)
    • Call out the best in me, and hold me accountable to the best version of myself.
    • Listen without judging or trying to fix me.
    • Give me the benefit of the doubt.
    • Extend grace to me when I am grumpy or having a bad day.
    • Remember my birthday, favorite foods, music, and art.
    • Know my story and love me regardless.
    • Spend time with me, just because they enjoy my company.
    • Speak well of me when I am not present.
    • Serve me with a joyful spirit and without complaining.
    • Speak the truth to me when no one else will.
    • Never shame me, diminish me, or make me feel small.
    • Become excited about what I am excited about.
    • Celebrate my wins!
  2. Now become that person for your spouse. That’s right. Turn the table. Make this a list of the kind of friend you will become. I can promise you this: anyone who does half of these kinds of things will have more friends than he or she knows what to do with. But what if you focused this effort on your spouse? Think of the possibilities.
  3. Keep sowing the seeds, until the relationship blossoms. How long will it take to create this kind of relationship? It all depends on where you are starting. For some, it might be several months. For others, it might take years. Friendships are like gardens; they must be cultivated. The key is to be consistent and persistent—without expectations.

This is really nothing more than the application of the Golden Rule to marriage: “Do to others what you would want them to do to you” (Luke 6:31).

If couples would invest in one another like I am suggesting, the divorce rate would plummet. Romance is important. Sex is too. But a solid friendship is the foundation of everything else.

Question what could you do today to be a better friend to your spouse? You can leave a comment by clicking here.
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  • http://www.facebook.com/people/James-Mullinax/100000495075465 James Mullinax

    i love u anna mullinax and i want to b your best friend you r the person i want to spend the rest of my life with. i know it will take some time but i we can become the friends we want to be. ive failed so many times before but i needed help doing this in time u will see that i am the man u love and want to spend the rest of your preacious life with im sorry for the past but past is the past i want to live in the present and strive for a better future with u as my best friend. I am the man of your dreams i just need some cleaning up , i love u with my every bit of my heart and soul and i am going to show you u r speacial to me. i know i get upset and say hurtful things when u dnt say what i want to hear , and im wrong for doing that i will strive to be a better friend and husband to u with all the love in my heart.

  • http://www.freelancewriter.co/ Harleena Singh

    Totally agree with you Michael- the foundation and the very basic of a relationship is trust and friendship. If these two main things are not there, I doubt if you can proceed further. 

    Also, rather than expecting anything from your spouse, check out what you can do instead, as this will make you a happier person! Treat your spouse the way that you want to be treated. Don’t expect your spouse to take the first steps toward friendship, instead you initiate the first move.Thanks for sharing!

  • Tennyson Mills

    Honestly friend, my husband has no desire for anything that’s “close” and so far, stepping aside and letting him do as he chooses or wants is what satifies him. I don’t want to change his many wonderful qualities and, I think it’s a question of good or bad rather, what’s important to one partner isn’t important to the other.  How can one change or help this mind-set?

  • Shauna Renee’

    My intention to improve my relationship with my spouse is by not speaking ill of him; I work with mostly women, and everyone tends to gripe about what their husbands do wrong. I’m going to try to not join in this backstabbing game anymore.    

  • Angela

    My husband is the love of my life and best friend of all time. We, too, talk constantly. If he is not calling me from work every couple hours, I will call him, or text. We truly do think about each other in all that we do and truly enjoy our intereactions. Of course we have had our misunderstandings, but have learned quickly that it is about learning about each other’s needs. But, honestly, I believe that there are marriages that are just meant to work. I do not believe you need be lazy, of course not, but I was married once before, and there was always strife. I was either crying at something he said that was ruthless or crude, and he was always paranoid about one thing or another! It was a terrible way to live!! I felt awful for so long after divorcing, but sought God with all my heart. And he brought me this beautiful, God-loving man that I can now boast as being my love of 15 years. I just could not have imagined what God had in store. But I also believe that when you seek the best from God, he will give it and grant it, and you can have a relatively “easy working” marriage–one that you both just fit. I cry at the thought of the beauty He has bestowed upon my life with this man and that he would say the same about me, as his wife, in return. I would wish this expression and feeling of love for all couples. It feels as though it is God showing what his love looks like via us with each other.

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  • Alouisjr12_10

    ok ive been married for 7 yrs and ive been seprated from my wife for almost a yr. she says that she loves me but is not in love with me. i have lied over the years and now she dont want anything to do with me. so what can i do to get her back if she is telling me she dont want to be with me, to just be friends. so what am i to do. should i let her go or continue to fight to get her back……your answers will help me alot..allen..p.s. email me at alouisjr12_10@yahoo.com thank you very much

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  • Mrs. D.

    Being a friend to your spouse is when you stick closer to him/her than you do your siblings, your homeboys or your girlfriends.  It’s when you don’t call your siblings or friends when you are troubled; you share everything (except what belongs to God) with your spouse.  You go above and beyond to make him/her smile.  You are not concerned about yourself, you are more concerned for his/her wellbeing.  Everything you do is centered around your spouse, even going to work.  

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  • http://dalemelchin.wordpress.com/ Dale Melchin

    I love this post.  Common sense is not often common practice.

  • http://twitter.com/SGTurner_2 S Glenn Turner Jr.

    This is a powerfully simple, simply powerful message. Your construction and deliver is so concise. Fantastic!

    It took me the first 19 years to figure this out. Thank God for a patient wife. We are now at 31 years and getting better with practice.

    “…invest in one another…” I pray this for all marriages.

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  • http://www.timandolive.com/ Tim Chan

    Great post Michael!
    For me, one way to be my spouse’s best friend is to learn what her needs are. Olive is an introvert, and needs (and prefers) lots of time and space to be by herself. I’ve had to learn, in our marriage, how to help her create those spaces in the midst of our lives. Many times, it means turning down social engagements that I’d prefer that we go to together, or sometimes being the one that “represents” us and go alone.If you’re an introvert, Olive has starting writing (from my biased option) a great blog series about the Life of an Introvert. http://timandolive.com/my-introvert-life/If you’re married to an introvert and want to understand more about your spouse’s need, I’d recommend you read her series – I think you’ll gain some perspective.

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  • Chooper8

    I agree wholeheartedly with your guidelines and advice. After 14 years of marriage and 6 years of dating we are still commited to each other, consider ourselves a team and feel fortunate to have each other. However, we have had our ups and downs. Things are not as good as they could be. We both have broken every item on your proposed list. More often than not I wonder how we have both been so commited to each other. I love my husband but because of all the times I’ve been hurt, my feelings of being “in love” come and go. How do I get past the past hurts in order to start changing my behavior towards him?

  • Guest

    Hi Michael, how much I love your post! I have one question. How can you go back to try to be the best friend with someone after you were betrayed by him? 

    I had always devoted all my self to my husband, then to our little children (8 months old and 2.5 years old), all of who were always far above my own needs. I did most of things you listed to be someone’s best friend for the past 5 years of our marriage. But my husband took it for granted, even attempted to squeeze the tiny remaining bit out of me up to the point that I felt miserable and even abused emotionally! When I wanted to leave this suffocating marriage 4 months ago, he woke up and promised to change. To my surprise, it has been a complete change! He has been now a very good husband and father for the last 4 months, to which I am extremely grateful. The problem is that I have also forever changed! He had taught me to be selfish, to give less, and ask for more. I am no longer who I was before: I am no longer willing to give without expecting to receive something equivalent back even though I don’t want to be like this. I can no longer follow your advice above to become the best friend of my husband. 

    I am sorry that I am not religious. 

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      Yes, I think you can. But it begins with a decision on your part. You are who you create yourself to be. What kind of person do you want to be? Thanks.

  • Dennis

    How can you plant seeds if what you are doing and want to be done to you are being rejected. Example, I want to be a team I want to show kindness, love, be usefull, and helpful. I want the same thing to. I feel like I treat people how I want to be treated. But to my partner she feels like its the opposite. When I want to help or figure something out with her she takes it in a way that it has to be my way or I’m controlling or I’m taking over what she is doing. That is not in anyway what I want or how I want her to feel. In fact it is the exacte opposite of what I want or how I would like her to feel. I want her to feel like she was on part of a winning team were we both could shine and assiste eachother in our lives. She is so amazing, beauty, brains, and talent. I have so much I could learn from her and want to but feel she doesn’t want the same. So how can we work well as teammates on the same team? If she doesn’t want to be on the team or play at all. I’m willing to do or try anything but feel that the only thing left to do is give her what she wants let her do everything her way, and not help her with anything. That would make me sad. I welcome her ideas and help. I don’t know what to do as every thing I try seems to have the opposite effect on what I want or how I want it to come across. I want to be her best friend and to feel that she has a best friend in me.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/TYYEIK7FTKQP3O7JUNF25U2DGM Gissel

    Hi Michael, question for you…
    After reading this article I feel like a new to know a few things.
    My husband and I have been married for 12 years in the beginning of our marriage we were friends and so in love. Last weekend he told me he was no longer in love with me and that he wants a divorce. I want to rekindle our love and friendship but I don’t know how to go about it?
    What steps to I take to be his friend again?

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      I would start by reading The Five Love Languages by Dr. Gary Chapman. You have to be able to speak his language before anything will work.

  • Jenniffer

    Hello am Jeniffer  from UK i wanna thank Dr Paloma for what he has done for me at first i taught he was scam but until i just decided to follow my mind.i told him that my ex lover which i loved with all my heart left me for another all Dr Paloma did was to laugh and said he will be back to me in 3days time i taught he was lying on the 3rd day my ex called me and said he wanna see me,i was shocked then he came over to my place and started begging that he was bewitched,immediately i forgives him and now we are back and he his really madly in love with me.All thanks to Dr Paloma he indeed wonderful incise you wanna contact him here his is private mail palomaspelltemple@yahoo.com   

  • sarah

    me and my boyfriend of six and half years (a young start to i was 17 now 23) have really been trying to make things work but constantly fight and now I have just found out he lied about a rather massive amount of money he got from a car accident, at first he lied and told me he only got a tiny bit and so he couldn’t even afford to get me a birthday or Christmas present but now i found out he had this huge amount of money and was lying all along he kept it from me for about 3 months he wasn’t paying rent or bills and said he was completely broke. Now that I found out he had all that money and spent it all on little things for himself… my heart is breaking and i just cant seem to get over or through this and we aren’t getting along at all its so horrible and I hate feeling sad about it every morning I wake up and every time i see him. I just want us to be friends again I just seem to be doing all the work to make that happen I’m physically and mentally exhausted.

  • Electtech

    By understanding her needs and keeping a mindset that she is important.

  • Lita

    wow great advice

  • tee jay

    My wife of 21 years wanted a separation out of the blue. It tore apart that she wanted to separate. she explained it because of things that happened years ago and that she was hard on me, and suppress her feelings. she told me she only married me to make her self legal in gods eyes, it hurt deeply but I tried to hang in my marriage, I contacted Prophet Mike for help and vowed to stand for my marriage, my wife still brings up things from the past, no infidelity on either of us, just excuse after excuse, our marriage is based on sex. I asked Prophet Mike to heal my marriage and within four day, things became normal and my wife put away the idea of separation and wanted me so badly like never before. how Prophet Mike did this, i don’t know. But since he did this for me, i believe he can help with which ever relationship problem you may be going through and i will gladly recommend him to anyone. If you ever want his help, here is his contact purityspell@gmail.com

  • patricia

    i can surely love my spouse and pour kisses over him

  • Abdullah

    Call.text or speak in person and apologize for any offensive action. express appreciation for a meal or your partner said or did

  • Henry Nancy

    I want to use this opportunity to thank Dr. Olokum for helping me get my lover back after he left me few months ago. I have sent friends and my brothers to beg him for me but he refused that it is all over between both of us but when I met this Dr. Olokum he told me to relaxed that every thing will be fine and really after just a week I got my man back. so thank you so much Olokum. here is the email and phone number of Dr. Olokum LAVEDERLOVESPELL@gmail.com

  • mare7777

    I could definitely be a better listener… and give more credit where it is deserved. I say thank you and acknowledge the things that he has done. Mare7777

  • Altariq

    Let her past go and love her for who she is

  • michelle

    What will it take the whole world to know of the great and powerful prophet called AKHIDE, He has helped many people the whole world many people came from different countries to see him for solutions, including me, I based in in UK because of my illness i travelled down from UK to bini republic to see him for cure and it did take him an twinkle of eye to heal me because I was able to provide all the requirements needed for the cure, and I am now happy that I am now +1 this year, and how which I did met this dr testimony on net I would have been in my grave and joined my ancestors today….thanks to dr akhide for his cure and his mercies he show to me… emailed prophet AKHIDE ON PROPHETAKHIDESOLUTIONTEMPLE@GMAIL.COM