My spouse is not my best friend and I couldn't be happier

Jun 4, 2015 at 9:00 a.m. ET

Partners should be friends, but it isn't always fair to ask your partner to fill the role of "bestie."

There's a common piece of wisdom when it comes to getting married, often gleaned from unsolicited sources and smarmy Facebook memes: "Marry your best friend." It's the secret to happiness, apparently; marry your biffle and nothing can go wrong.

No thank you.

I think that if marrying your best friend works for you, you should go for it! But do we need to tout it as the secret key to eternal happiness, without which your marriage would be doomed? No. I didn't marry my best friend, and I couldn't be happier about it. In fact, it ranks high up on my list of advice I would never give someone, just below "don't go to bed angry." Here's why.

1. I want different things from my best friend than I do from my partner.


Image: Giphy

I have a best friend, whom I've known for decades. We actually became close around the same time I was dating my husband, so this isn't a cradle-to-grave type of thing, trust me. We share interests, anxieties and above all, life experiences. We have extremely similar backgrounds that include a rough upbringing, which is important.

I share everything with my spouse, but there's a limit to what he can understand. He can sympathize with me, sure, but what I need from my best friend is genuine empathy, which would be impossible for my husband to provide. Expecting — and then not getting — it from him is a recipe for failure and resentment.

It's a fairness issue. Just as I wouldn't expect my best friend to help me hammer out a budget and research lower mortgage rates, or wear that one swimsuit that makes my knees weak, I wouldn't expect my husband to help me psychoanalyze myself with a bottle of Cutty Sark against a backdrop of bad Bollywood movies.

More: 8 Strange discussions all normal couples have

2. Friendships tend to be fragile.


Image: Giphy

When you inevitably have a gnarly fight with a friend, even a close one, two things can happen. One, you both go to your separate corners to cool off for a day or a month or whatever, or two, the friendship ends. Chances are, you've been through more best friends than spouses in your life.

When you have a fight with your partner or spouse, there are no corners to go to. You have to stare at their dumb face for days until one or both of you is over it. I don't ever want to "divorce" my best friend, but if we're being honest, it would be a hell of a lot less devastating than divorcing a spouse.

3. I have needs, OK?


Image: Giphy

I never wanted to date (or marry) a mirror image of myself. That's boring. Sure, it might be fun for a while to be into all the same things, but after some time it gets old. I love my husband, but I don't want to be around him all of the time. Just like he has interests that are better shared among his peers, I like to get my emotional and intellectual stimulation from outside of my home life bubble on occasion.

I'm not talking about traditional gender roles — moms be shoppin', dads be fartin' — type stuff. I just mean that it's natural to have varied interests, you can't expect your partner to always care about them, and everyone needs a little space once in a while.

4. Sex, y'all.


Image: Giphy

Listen, I love my best friend like a true, literal sister. And like most sisters, we don't want to have sex with each other. I've had male best friends, too, and I don't want to have sex with them, either. There is a reason some folks are banished to the land of Platonia and others get their names written in the Bone Tome.

Sex is not a priority among "friends." It's a priority among people who have sex with each other. That's why they date and occasionally get married instead of choosing to remain "just friends."

More: Sex in your 40s puts 20-somethings to shame

5. The worst can — and does — happen.


Image: Giphy

I have high hopes for my marriage. I think it will last a long time, and I've already informed my husband that he is forbidden to die before me. I am also not an idiot. Sometimes rifts occur that can't be fixed. Sometimes the worst happens and a spouse dies. If it does, in either case I will really need my best friend with me then. What a shame it would be if I pushed that person away in order to conform to some arbitrary idea of what marriage would look like.

More on marriage

Can feminism save your marriage?
13 Things all happy couples do in their marriage
The secret to a happy relationship: Be selfish