My Husband. My Best Friend.
If I could pick one person in the entire world that I would choose to spend a day with it would always be Mark Greenwood. Every. Single. Time.
In fact I would have to say that my favourite part about being married is that I get to share life with my absolute best friend.
Forming this deep well of friendship with my husband has not come organically but with intentionality.
Function over Friendship
In the beginning, I got caught up in a hectic schedule of working, studying, family and ministry. I failed to prioritise the friendship of my marriage. Consequently, our marriage almost became a functional relationship where I would work long hours and study in between and Mark would be equally preoccupied with other “great things” which did not often include me.
Without being cherished and nourished, marriage can slip into functionality which is a scary place to be. We were too busy to recognise the dangerous place we were heading until we were neck deep in a functional marriage with no idea how we had got there.
Looking back, I can see the indicators and cracks starting to appear. We began misunderstanding each other’s intentions and misinterpreting one another. This led to false perceptions compounded by the lack of time to dialogue with one another. The time we did have together became about getting the necessary errands run, house cleaned, and jobs done. Our relationship was moving into function and away from friendship and intimacy.
If we continued on that trajectory it would not have been long before we lived together like business partners at best. Recognising the danger of where I was headed in my marriage was a huge part of the why I stopped pursuing a career as an Obstetrician.
Soon after Mark and I moved to Darwin we took three months off and reassessed our lives and what was important to us. There were so many things that needed realignment. One of them was our marriage. From that time on I can honestly say we have always put our relationship and friendship in marriage first.
Beloved. Don’t make the same mistake. Re-evaluate your relationship. Are you prioritising your friendship and intimacy with each other? Are there some cracks starting to appear? OR are there things that you can put in place to make your friendship with your spouse, stronger and deeper.
Here are some practical things that we put in place that have been key factors in keeping us closer than ever:
- 1. We tell each other our dreams constantly and then brainstorm together about how to move towards making them happen.
Mark and I have made a habit of dreaming together both formally and informally. We have Life Meetings. We allocate time at the beginning of every year and then every six months to map out each other’s dreams. We do this for the year to come and also for the next five years. We then try to reassess and re-evaluate every few months.
Nobody knows or supports Mark’s dreams better than I do. Nobody knows or supports my dreams better than Mark does. Why? Because we make time to talk about them, share them with each other and constantly re-evaluate together. That way we are always on the same page and positioned to support and work together as much as possible.
- 2. We love each other in the way that makes one another feel loved.
I am an acts of service girl. I feel so loved when Mark spends hours cleaning the house and editing and arranging my articles and books. I feel cherished beyond measure when he liaises with my editor and designer to get my book published and for sale. I love it when we work on our business together.
I definitely do not feel loved when he goes away on trips or with the best of intentions chooses the ugliest clothes for me. It astounds me that he could even think I would find those clothes remotely attractively. Believe me, I stopped pretending to be thrilled a long time ago. Understanding that this isn’t how I receive love; he now never brings me presents home. Thank the heavens. However, every week he cleans the house until it’s spotless and every time he goes away he leaves the house shining. I feel so loved and nurtured when he does this. Nothing floats my boat more than practical acts of love.
Mark loves quality time. He absolutely loves it when I plan a date and take him out. Just me and him. It doesn’t matter where; it can be coffee for an hour or a five-star restaurant. It would not bless Mark if I ran around ‘doing’ things for him that truthfully, he could do better himself. He feels far more loved when I give him my time.
Demonstrating love in a way that is meaningful for one another makes us feel so cherished and blessed. A spotless house never gets old to me. It is like a huge kiss every time. Time scheduled in with no agenda except to share and be together is Mark’s love language. It means more to him than all the acts of service in the world.
Sometimes we pay more attention to intentionally showing love to our friends and don’t offer the same intentionality with our spouse.
- 3. Fun: A Key Ingredient
One of the key parts of being each other’s best friend is having fun together. When I was working as a Doctor and studying for exams, I became too busy and important in my own head to make time to have fun with my husband. If I did have time for fun it was with my colleagues or girlfriends, however it was a foreign idea to actually plan to have fun with Mark. While we still adored each other, we had slipped into doing the functional parts of life together and as we didn’t actively prioritise fun in our lives, it rarely happened.
Since our wakeup call, fun is something we both prioritise and have intentionally started to incorporate into our lives no matter how busy we are.
Recently we had a date morning. I bought a bottle of champagne (Ricodonna – cheap and sweet) along with cheese and bread at 10:30 in the morning. We drank and I got toasted (calm down everyone it only took half a glass) and we had the best time we’d had in years. We danced to our favourite songs, we laughed until we cried and we talked about everything and were intimate. We had so much fun together at 10:30am on a weekday. It was seriously glorious. I realised in that moment how long it had been since we had fun. Just Mark and I. Alone. It seriously brought us so much closer. It reminded me how important it is to have fun together.
- 4. We Laugh Together
Often in the past I was too highly strung, productivity focused and time poor to laugh. Seriously. I lost my sense of humour. It took time to learn to laugh together again and for me to find Mark’s jokes funny and not irritating. Now we tell each other funny stories about our days. I love to re-enact my humorous encounters to Mark. I have him in stitches. Not just because I am hilarious but because we have set a culture of fun and laughter together. And maybe also because I am hilarious.
Laugh at your children. Laugh at funny YouTube videos. Watch a funny movie over and over and repeat their jokes and laugh your guts out together. I am 33 and I still repeat phrases out of Nacho Libre to Mark weekly. He is the only one that finds it funny. We find GIFs of Nacho Libre in tights and send them to each other in church like 10-year old. It is young and light and so right. Laugh out loud with each other. It is addictive.
Seriousness is not a fruit of the Spirit.
- 5. We make sure the other is Aware they Always come First.
Mark is a church Pastor. He is also a powerful preacher and teacher and author of a revelatory book. He is a people magnet. People love him and are desperate to spend time with him.
His life is pretty hectic. He spends a lot of nights away at gatherings, church meetings and groups. He travels and preaches. When he is ministering, believe me, he is 100 percent engrossed in the person he is speaking with. I truly never feel displaced or jealous. Why? Because I know that in Mark’s heart I always come first.
Early 2018 I was in the midst of quitting my job and making life changing decisions while Mark was away running a Jesus School on the Gold Coast. He had planned the school for months, hundreds were being born again and many were being transformed and set free.
Usually, I am a hugely independent person. I would rather do things on my own and it takes a lot for me to ask for help. However, on this occasion I desperately wanted my husband. I called him and I asked him, if at all possible, if he could come home to me.
Within 48 hours he was home. Despite the 45 students and 20 leaders relying on him, many who were unwell, he put me first, handed everything over and caught the earliest plane he could. He came home to me. His team was supportive and inspired by it too.
I remember the morning he arrived home. He took me to a café. He had an A3 notepad with different coloured pencils. For hours he dreamed with me and we put a plan in place. He told me over and over how proud he was of me. For one week he did nothing but listen to me and love on me. He was present and I came first.
Over every relationship, over every ministry, and over every person except God, he chooses me. My husband has my absolute trust for he has shown me time and time again that I am number one in his heart. For that reason I release him continually to do whatever is on his heart.
More than six years ago I told Mark to quit his job so that he could go into full time ministry which had been voluntary for many years. In fact this is the first year that we are receiving a regular wage for Mark. We have lived on my wage for years which has meant huge financial sacrifices for us. Many times instead of travelling with Mark I have been working. I do this because I know his destiny and calling and he knows that in an instant I would lay down every one of my dreams to make his come true.
When you are faced with a big decision together, when you are faced with small decisions, stop and think, “Am I putting him first?” or “Am I putting her first?” Knowing that each other always comes first lays the foundation to the most intimate, powerful friendship.
These things have helped create the most intimate, rewarding and joyful friendship between Mark and I. We are truly the very best of friends. It doesn’t always come naturally or organically but takes great intentionality to implement habits which ensure our friendship is preserved through the test of time.
I asked some of my dear married friends this question.
What is one practical way you keep your friendship deep and intimate with each other?
Sarah and Jesse Cheeseman answered with this.
“We talk about everything. We love story telling and are both a little bit dramatic in that regard. I will proclaim, “Babe, you’re such a drama queen!” “Drama king!” Is always his response. We set aside time to chat about our days, hopes, dreams and disappointments. We also love to read together. There’s something very precious about experiencing The Word and unpacking revelation together that marks your relationship in ways nothing else can.”
“We talk about everything, constantly seeking the balance of being brutally honest (maybe that’s just me) while remaining kind, considerate and compassionate. Our nights are often put aside to talk and dream together.”
My other great friends Melissa and Adam Shepski had this to say.
“We keep our friendship deep by being intentional with our time, even if we have to schedule it. We try to get away often and go do something fun. We also make sex a huge part of our intimate relationship. I can’t even begin to stress how important it really is.”
“Every year we try to take two to three days alone with one another. Last year we were in Germany for a ministry event and afterwards travelled to Czech for three days to visit friends. Travelling with each other reminds us of our love of adventure, new experiences and most of all provides a number of funny moments along the way. When we participate on an adventure together we both re-discover how much we actually “like” being around one another and our friendship is refreshed!”
Reigning in your marriage is Prioritising Friendship with your spouse
We can all, myself included, go one step deeper in Friendship with each other.
We can all, myself particularly, fiercely act to protect and maintain this special friendship with our spouse above all else.
I wonder my beloveds, this week if you could reflect on this.
What is one practical way you keep your friendship deep and intimate with each other?
Think on that this week my beloved.
Put something in place.
It is deeply important.
It is worth your time, thoughts and energy.
You are deeply loved and richly cherished,
Reign in Life
I have to say this. The middle Aisle at Aldi’s? Is it just me? Seriously. I can’t even. I go in for a bag of grapes, and delicious Aldi’s Goats cheese, and come out with a pool floatie stick, a new fry pan, an entire new collection of random chopping boards that seemed a good idea at the time. I narrowly escaped further purchases which included, an inflatable TV, a portable boxing set, and a Craft Beer Kit. It seems that whatever money you save, you lose in the dangerous middle section. And It seems completely Rational at the time! Am I alone? Tell me people. What is the strangest thing you have bought at Aldi. ?
P.S. Like this? Read more about my seven thoughts on marriage on my book “7 Thoughts about marriage” Available here.