It's Taken Me 40 Years To Say My Husband Is My Best Friend

Is there hope for a marriage based on passion but lacking in communication?

It's Taken Me 40 Years To Say My Husband Is My Best Friend Courtesy of Author

Is love enough to make a marriage work? Can friendship grow from passion?

We were driving in the truck the other day when it occurred to me that I had known my husband for 40 years — 34 of those as husband and wife. But I've never referred to him as my best friend.

I've always felt a pang of guilt when admitting to myself that I didn't consider my husband my best friend. I'd feel envy when others talked about that kind of relationship with their spouse.


You know the stories. We met in college, and we were best friends first, then fell in love. Maybe your love story is one founded on friendship. I don’t see mine that way. At times I felt like we were frenemies — constantly bringing out the worst in each other or sabotaging each other’s best qualities.

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I met my husband at work — a few people were trying to fix us up behind the scenes. I wasn't attracted to him, and he didn't seem interested in me. We talked about this in the truck when I reminded him we were approaching our 40th anniversary of meeting and our first date.


He said, "That's what made you want me. I wasn't fawning all over you like those other guys."

It's true. I had a lot of gentlemen callers. We worked in a convenience store, and every shift, guys would pop in to talk to me, see me, or ask me out. I had a lot of guy friends, too, so that made the list seem longer.

But, one night, we stayed out after work and talked (and kissed a little) into the wee hours of the morning. I was smitten, and we were in love. Our romance wasn't without a bumpy start, and we almost didn't survive, but even when we were apart, I knew he was the only one for me.

Candid of the author and her husband One of my favorite candid shots of my husband and me when we were younger. It's clear we were in love | Image by author


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His sister called us "Clingons" — that's how inseparable we were. Our passion was strong, but so were our differences. After we married, those differences became glaring, and I wondered if I had made a mistake. I never questioned whether I loved this man, but I did wonder if love was enough to make a marriage work.

It almost wasn't.

Through the trials of a chronically ill infant, significant financial losses, undiagnosed causes of my husband's erratic and confusing behavior, and the recent trial of chronic illness caused by Long COVID, there were four milestones in our marriage where I thought we were not going to make it.


You have to love yourself before you can really love someone else.

All of these problems were exacerbated by a lack of understanding of ourselves and each other. Communication is key, but we didn't know what to communicate. Recently, I've learned that I am a highly sensitive person. This has shed enormous light on how I interact with others — particularly my husband.

After more than three years of battling Long COVID, my husband has recently been diagnosed with ADHD. This I suspected early on in our marriage, but when he was tested, the psychologist said it was not ADHD. It seems that Long COVID has made this condition worse and is potentially the root cause of his COVID brain fog. 

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Long COVID has stolen a lot from my husband, and he's learning to grieve the person he used to be to move on and find his new normal. He’s still seeing mostly loss, but I see the gains.

One thing Long COVID has given us is time.

Formerly a 12-hour-a-day, 6-day-a-week worker — some might use the word "workaholic" — my husband has been home with me for 41 months. He's learned to slow down and rest, to eat healthy, to observe birds in the backyard, and to pay attention to his surroundings. And he's learned to pay attention to me.

We previously dealt with our dysfunction by ignoring it or running away from each other. At different times in our marriage, we've each been absorbed in our work and career to the detriment of our union.


Long COVID entered our lives, and we no longer had anywhere to run. I have been a remote worker for a long time, so being disabled meant my husband would be home with me 24/7. It's been an adjustment for us but a tremendous blessing.

As my husband's psychiatrist said the other day: "Maybe the only good thing to come out of this Long COVID illness is that you have learned more about yourself."

They say that trials will either make or break a marriage. Mine has almost broken several times, but this latest trial has taken a struggling marriage to a solid partnership.


I now know he has my back. He's the one I run to when I am confused, overthinking, or misunderstood. He knows I am his biggest advocate. I'll never stop researching, asking questions, and believing in a cure for him. We've created a rhythm that feels good. Life is sane, and we have learned to honor each other's differences while finding common ground to celebrate and enjoy.

Author and her husband sharing common ground Sharing common ground | Image by author

Driving in the truck after visiting a waterfall in the forest, the sun shining on my heart, the wind blowing through my hair, and some familiar 80s tunes on the radio, I looked at my husband and finally thought: He is my best friend.


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Mary Gallagher teaches women how to declutter to make room for what matters. She’s been published in The Joyful Life Magazine, A Cup of Comfort series, Writer on Fire: Poetry Prompts to Ignite the Poet Within, and is a frequent contributor to various Medium publications as well as her own, The Decluttered Soul.