With Valentine’s Day upon us, our minds turn to love and romantic relationships. What do you think is the foundation of a happy marriage? Many people would guess that it is good communication, the ability to resolve conflicts, mutual respect, or martial commitment. Although these things are very important recent research shows that the best predictor of marital happiness is friendship.
Think about it. If you are friends with someone, you make the effort to maintain good communication, spend time together when possible and laugh at each other’s jokes even if you have heard them before. If you are really close friends, you should have enough confidence in the relationship to tell them when you see something in their life that concerns you, or to accept negative feedback from them. You share a connection that grows from appreciation of how much that person is like you, or how interesting they are because they are different from you – or a combination of the two.
You can easily see how valuable this kind of friendship is with the person you are spending your life with. I personally value knowing that my wife genuinely cares about what I share with her and that she won’t disclose the private details of our conversations with others. This allows me the freedom to be honest and vulnerable. I also appreciate the fact that she will tell me the truth – even when it hurts – because she wants what is best for me. Our friendship works both ways as I give her the same consideration.
Most of all, I enjoy knowing that she likes to spend time with me just goofing off and having a good time. Good friends don’t need to impress one another to have fun. Just being together is the best part of most activities. The reason we can enjoy each other as friends is because we have a foundation of trust, mutual respect and love – not to mention the fact that we really like each other.
Just as the elements of nature can cause the foundation of your home to erode, the stresses of life and marriage can chip away at the foundation of your friendship with your spouse. An important key to sustained satisfaction and enjoyment in marriage is making a conscious decision every day to not allow your work, children or the busyness of life to eat away at the foundation of your marital friendship!
To keep your friendship strong, prioritize time together; regular date nights with just the two of you, time spent with other couples you both enjoy and frequent conversations about your relationship will help you nip conflict in the bud and strengthen your bond.
While I strongly advocate for men to have close male friends and for women to have close female friends, I encourage you to make sure that your spouse is your Number One Friend!
Here are 5 great tips provided by The Gottman Institute that will help you strengthen your friendship with your spouse.
What do you believe is the key to improving your friendship with your spouse? What advice would you give someone who is just getting married? We hope you will join in the conversation in the comment section below!
Live, Work and Relate Well!
Dr. Linaman is a psychologist and executive coach providing counseling and professional development services to individuals, couples, work teams and organizations.