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Why You Shouldn't Marry Your Best Friend

Photograph by Twenty20

My husband and I have been together since we were 18 years old. We’ve been an item for over 16 years and happily married for eight. We love each other madly and deeply. He is my rock, my confidant, my partner, and my lover... but he’s not my best friend.

My best friend is a woman. A woman who knows me better than I know myself, who has seen me through many of life’s ups and downs, and who loves me deeply without the messiness of being in love with me.

I know the phrase “I married my best friend” is meant to be as sweet as it is common, but I think it puts unnecessary strain on a marriage. Asking your romantic partner to be your number one pal puts a whole lot of pressure on one person.

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First of all, if you are in a heterosexual marriage, it's extremely difficult for your partner to truly understand and sympathize with many of your life experiences. There's just no way for your husband to understand what it actually feels like when your period is two days late—you need a best friend for that.

You may have found Mr. Right but he doesn’t have to be Mr. Everything.

Most husbands aren’t the ideal people to share a pedicure appointment with and they may not want to rehash the latest "Bachelor" episode. They also can’t fully relate to the troubling competitiveness between women and enduring female discrimination in American society the way a best friend can. For practical advice, like the best way to tame your bikini line, to deep empathy for the female experience, like what it’s like to be whistled at from a moving vehicle, we all need close female friendships.

It's also extremely helpful to have someone you can talk to that has some objectivity. A best friend doesn’t share a bed with you, doesn’t have access to your checking account, and doesn’t parent your children. This makes them the perfect person to vent to. They might have an outsider’s perspective that makes your problem simpler to solve. And better still, it’s easier for a friend to hear your struggles without feeling compelled to fix them. Basically, if you have a best friend to share with, your husband doesn’t have to be your one and only sounding board.

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And perhaps most importantly, spending time with a best friend is a great way to remember that you are an autonomous person, that you are more than a wife and a mother. Incidentally, feeling independent and whole makes you better at those roles. You may have found Mr. Right but he doesn’t have to be Mr. Everything. Husbands are amazing, but they can’t replace best friends.

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