No, I’m not marrying my best friend (…her husband may take issue!)

Guest post by Sara

Sorry, Cathy's Classic Aisle Runner. I'm marrying my fiance, not my best friend.
Sorry, Cathy's Classic Aisle Runner. I'm marrying my fiance, not my best friend.
Since we've gotten engaged, a couple of people have mentioned things about “marrying your best friend.” As in “Oh, isn't it great that you get to be with your best friend forever?” I don't correct them, because I feel like it isn't worth the argument, but it's something that strikes me as odd.

Let me be clear, if you are a person who feels that they will be marrying/have married their best friend, that's great! You do you, whatever makes you happy. But I'm a little weirded out how this seems to be the assumption now. Even when you look at all merchandise — all the cards and t-shirts and tote bags and aisle runners — the wedding industry seems to think that if you're marrying someone they must be your best friend, and that's just… odd to me. Obviously some people are marrying their best friend, but surely not everyone?

People never assumed this stuff when my fiancé was just a boyfriend. We were living together, running a house together, and everyone assumed that at some point we'd get married, but no one said anything about “living with your best friend.” Admittedly the people saying this aren't people who know me super-well, but I just don't understand that leap.

My fiancé isn't my best friend. He's pretty great, but we weren't really friends before we dated, and my actual best friend has known me for almost twice as long as he has. She's the one who will tell me that sweater makes me look like a crazy cat lady, whereas my fiancé thinks I'm gorgeous in whatever I wear. (Not that that is a bad thing.) It's just sort of, two sides to the same coin. And, for our situation, I feel like for him to try and be both my partner and my best friend would be counterproductive. There's nothing major that my fiancé knows about me that my bestie doesn't, and vice versa. It's not the information that's different, it's the way it's processed…

My bestie can give me insight into problems that my fiancé can't, necessarily, because he's too close to the situation, and she can give me perspective. If he leaves his socks on the living room floor and my knee-jerk reaction is to freak out, I know that twenty years from now we're not going to point to the great sock-on-the-floor incident of 2013 as the low point in our relationship. But does it still tweak my nerves? Sure. In situations like that I can go to my best friend and say “Ugh, he left his socks on the floor again,” and she'll just shake her head and say “Oh I know, my husband does that and it irritates me too.” And then everyone wins. I feel vindicated because I'm not crazy, my fiancé isn't left going “WTF” because I went all She-Hulk over a pair of socks, and maybe later I go to him and mention it in a calm and rational way — or maybe not.

The point is my best friend is an outlet for this little stuff, sort of a staging area, if you will, for some of my feelings. It's not that my fiancé and I don't talk about our problems — he's a marriage therapist, do you really think he'd let me get away with that?! — it's just that sometimes I need to get my thoughts in order before I bring them up to him. And sometimes once I say something out loud it sounds so stupid that I'm able to just let it go, or realize that I may have been misunderstanding something.

The other thing is that he and I are very much our own people. We're not “two peas in a pod” or “two halves of a whole.” We are frequently found no where near each other geographically, we have hobbies that the other is completely not into, and it's not unusual for me to say “no idea” if someone asks me where he is. I know he's alive and will be home tonight, that's all I feel like I need to know.

In general I reject the idea (we both do) that to be in a relationship or to be married means we have to be joined at the hip 110% of the time. Not that I'm like that with my best friend either, but it goes along with the theme that people seem to think that once you get married, suddenly this one person should be absolutely everything to you. I have lots of important people in my life — I consider it a blessing that I have so very many people I love who are important to me, and I, personally, have no interest in having all of those roles condensed into one person.

So yeah, my fiancé and I are a team — we make our house run as a team, we sometimes plan parties as a team, we make sure we have enough cash to pay bills as a team, and eventually, we'll parent as a team. He's my “significant other,” he's “the dude I'm in love with,” and he's a pretty boss roommate and life-mate, but he's not my “best friend” and I doubt he ever will be.

Comments on No, I’m not marrying my best friend (…her husband may take issue!)

  1. I am someone who married her best friend. I am also someone who is now divorced from her best friend. But you know what? We are still best friends. I would give him both of my kidneys, take several bullets, or simply be there with a 30-pack of cold beers if he needs it. I love having dinner with him, taking walks to the beach with our dogs (that we share joint custody of), and visiting with his family.
    Best friends are there by your side through the best and absolute worst– however, best friends do not always want to share their bodies or be intimate with one another. I married him because he was my best friend and I couldn’t imagine life without him. It seemed like the correct next step, but it was the worst thing that we could have done. We still love each other and talk on a daily basis– the love hasn’t changed, it just never matured to the way that a wife should love her husband. I should have waited for the man who I don’t want to be away from… who I ache for, who I crave, who I simply can not live without. While we loved, respected, and had mostly very happy times together, denying myself those primal lusting feelings was absolute torture. If you marry your best friend, make sure that they are also your best lover, your best partner, and your better half.

    • OH MY. I feel like I am the only one in my world who did this. I married my best friend, divorced my best friend, and he remains my best friend. Which freaks EVERYONE out but us. He hangs out with me and my new husband and the two of them have become very good friends. People can NOT get the concept that you can love multiple people at the same time in different ways. They assume there is jealousy and hard feelings. There truly is not. I would do anything for my ex. But I dont love him like I love my husband. WHEW. Its so nice to know I am not alone!!!!

    • I agree so, so, SO much with this. I felt a little bit like the original post was taking an overly mutually-exclusive stance, in spite of mention that “hey, if you ARE marrying your best friend, go you.” It just felt a bit to me like an insistence that you can only have one best friend, and it probably shouldn’t be your spouse.

      I love the sentiment you close with, “If you marry your best friend, make sure that they are also your best lover, your best partner, and your better half.” My bridesmaids are all best friends, my FH is a best friend, but the difference, as you so excellently articulate, is that FH is also my best lover, best partner, and better half (by far! haha).

      • Oh dear :-/ I certainly didn’t mean for it to sound mutually exclusive- I hate that, actually. It was just…I never expected this writing to get this much attention, and I was really writing about the “other side” of this trope, so I didn’t really spend much time on the “pro-bff/spouse” side of things.

        I think it’s great if you have a best friend who is also your spouse- and also if you have lots and lots of friends (best or otherwise)! More love is always good. 🙂 I was mostly just writing about my personal frustration with this, since Fiance and I weren’t ever “just” friends, really. Sorry if I came off as a reductive ass- thanks for the comment! 🙂

    • OMG – this! YES! I swear, my husband and I have made the same mistake and I think our marriage is probably not going to survive it either. SO good to know I am not alone. 🙂

  2. Hear, hear! I feel like the “I’m marrying my best friend” sentiment is part of this whole larger picture that your partner is supposed to be able to be able to be everything to you and provide everything you need… something that I just don’t feel is a) accurate and b) fair. I like to think that we’re all complex individuals that can have a multitude of needs and wants that can be filled by all sorts of people. And when I made the decision to be with my partner, I made that decision knowing that I could definitely live without her, and would probably be happy and have a great life – but that I know my life is infinitely more beautiful with her in it. Even though she does tell me to pick up my socks. 🙂

  3. I love this. All of it is true, and I wish our society understood it. I love my man, but while he will always be there for me, I wouldn’t want him to be so joined to the hup there was no breathing room. He feels the same. I think it’s important not to smother each other.

    P. S. I’m an MD rennfester too.

    • What up MDRF! Yeah, I mean I think it’s great if that’s actually the kind of relationship you have, and I certainly think you can be BFFs with your spouse without getting smothery (though unfortunately I’m not sure that came across well in this writing-eek.) It’s all good as long as everyone’s happy, I just reject the notion that it HAS to be that way. Glad you enjoyed it!

  4. I’ve feel the same way! Everyone on facebook posts about their wedding/anniversary about how they’re marrying their best friend. I love my fiance, and I can’t wait to marry him, but I think my best friends are my sisters and a few other people that I talk to all the time.

    While no one yet has said I’ll be marrying my best friend, I have no intention to pretend my fiance is my best friend. So there 😛

  5. Isn’t it strange how according to stereotypes we are not only expected to marry our best friend but THEN be absolutely miserable once we’ve married them?

    Because leading up to the wedding and the actual wedding is supposed to be the absolute most romantic time of our lives. And then HURR HURR it’s all down hill from there!!

    This is such a good article. Obviously some of us have married our best friends (including me) but the reality IS that not everyone does. The reality is that no marriage is the same, because since when are all people exactly alike?

    But that’s why OBB exists right? Because the wedding industry tries to shove all of us into tiny little boxes and most people just honestly don’t fit into them (even if they try to).

    • Exactly! I don’t like boxes…unless they’re large, like from a refrigerator, and I can build a fort out of them. 🙂
      Glad you enjoyed!

  6. You wrote this for me!

    It’s funny, as soon as I got engaged last month, I started seeing the “marrying my best friend” stuff too. I thought, I love my fiance and he’s my PARTNER and yes we were friends before we dated, but he’s not my best friend. He’s up there, but not #1 and I don’t think he has to be. My best friend Rachel is my maid of honor and she’s the one I go to when I need “Best friend” things. My fiance is definitely someone I go to for stuff when I need a logical, non-emotional, male opinion on things. 🙂 Not the “best friend” stuff…. 🙂

    And I’m ok with that!

  7. I’m definitely marrying my best friend, but I think this brings up a good point. A spouse cannot be all – that is simply too much pressure. I’m a big proponent of having trusted friends outside of marriage – whether that is your best friends, family, or someone else. No one person can be everything to someone.

    For me, my ‘other friends’ are my mom and siblings. (I am VERY introverted) So while I am undoubtedly marrying my best friend, I am not marrying my only friend.

    • Thank you for this post and this comment.

      My dad, who was in a wonderful, healthy open life partnership with my mom, explained to me (when I was old enough to get it) why they didn’t hold themselves to monogamy. They both felt that the best way to destroy a marriage/life partnership was to expect your partner to serve ALL THE ROLES: best friend, lover, co-parent, co-responsible-adult, sharer of finances, etc.

      It seems to me that we all need to choose for ourselves which of those roles our spouse will serve (and confirm that he/she/ze has the same expectations!).When I read this post and these comments, it occurs to me that some people value the “lover” aspect the most, some the “best friend,” some the co-responsible-adult/co-habitant. What seems imposing about the assumption that you are marrying your best friend is that they are imposing their values/expectations on you rather than asking you what marriage is to you.

      That’s where my mind went, anyway.

      • “… it occurs to me that some people value the “lover” aspect the most, some the “best friend,” some the co-responsible-adult/co-habitant. What seems imposing about the assumption that you are marrying your best friend is that they are imposing their values/expectations on you rather than asking you what marriage is to you.”

        This is really well said, and I think that’s a great point. Because it’s not just the “best friend” thing (though obviously that’s a big pet peeve for me, haha.) It’s just silly for anyone except you to decide what your spouse/partner means to you. Thanks for the comment! 🙂

      • That really is such a great point. I never thought about what was most important to me in a partner before I got married but it’s very clear to me after reading your comment that co-responsible-adult/co-habitant really is the most important thing to me while I don’t think it is for my husband. The things we fight about all the time show that so clearly. I copied your comment and am going to email it to him to see what he thinks so we can have a discussion about it. 🙂

  8. I think the “I’m marrying my best friend” trope originally arose in contrast to the attitude that “love” was completely separate from “like.” So many romance stories have the characters initially despising each other then somehow falling in love, without ever falling in like along the way. This is made more explicable in that there used to be (and perhaps still is?) the assumption that people couldn’t have friends that weren’t the same gender.
    If the phrase now sounds weird, perhaps it means that some crusty notions are on their way out.

    • I agree. I think the idea was sort of a rebellion against the 1950s stereotype where men and women just didn’t talk to each other about certain things, especially not emotional things. I think the cultural theme is a good one. A way of saying “Hey caretakers/breadwinners, when you’re stressed about the kids/finances/general ennui its okay to talk to your SPOUSE rather than your bros/girls.”

    • This is a really interesting point, I don’t think I ever thought about it like that. Probably because Fiance and I really didn’t spend a lot of time being “in like.” We pretty much met, didn’t know a lot about each other, then started dating, then were like “yep, this is it.” I like the idea that if it’s weird it means that times are a-changin. Thanks for the comment!

  9. This is so true for me. I feel like if I referred to my fiance as my BFF, it would actually really insult my true bestie. Also, my fiance would probably say “uh yeah but actually Aaron is my BFF, sozlol”. So at least we’re on the same page 🙂

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