Are you friends with your spouse? Do you enjoy spending time with each other even if you’re not engaged in an activity? Being friends, liking each other, and connecting through conversation or activity truly makes for a good marriage. In fact, John Gottman,Ph.D. from his book The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work reported that the determining factor in whether men and women feel satisfied with sex, romance, and passion in their marriage is, by 70 percent, the quality of the couple’s friendship. In my clinical experience I have found that when couples are friends, enjoy each other’s company and have mutual respect for each other the relationship flourishes.
What interferes with a couple’s friendship? Many of the couples I work with have grown apart and lead very separate lives. They share space and tasks, but have very little emotional conversations, shared interests, and fun as a couple. Couples can very easily neglect their marriage and be consumed with the business of life. Unresolved conflict can also hinder friendship since many couples harbor negative emotions which creates detachment. Marriage requires regular maintenance and consistent connection. In therapy, I encourage each spouse to generate a fun list (what is fun for you as an individual and as a couple) and compare their lists after they’re completed. It is very interesting to identify the overlapping activities. The couple is encouraged to make copies for each other and use this list when planning their next date.
Are you friends with your spouse? How do you nurture the friendship? Find out in next week’s blog ways to deepen and grow your friendship. Friends can enjoy hanging out without an activity or doing something together, it doesn’t matter. Having a strong friendship can strengthen your marriage and provide a good role model for your children. Strengthening the marital friendship will result in more satisfaction and increase the probability of relationship success.