If you improve friendship in your relationship, then you will both be happier.
Do you feel like you’re dating your best friend? If not, then maybe the relationship is lacking in some way.
Even if you do feel like your partner is your best friend, you might be able to do more to strengthen that friendship.
A romantic relationship has so many facets. On one hand, it can be almost business-like. For example, when talking about finances and child-rearing choices. On the other hand, it can be passionate and sexually intimate.
Don’t forget how important it is to also have a friendship. When the going gets rough in those other areas, friendship will help pull you through.
Friendship Leads to Marital Satisfaction
Research has shown that friendship is critical to satisfaction in marriage. Both men and women feel more satisfied if they are friends with their spouse. In fact, in the book “The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work,” Dr. John Gottman reports that friendship is the number one determining factor for whether spouses feel satisfied with passion, romance, and sex. The percentage holds true for both husbands and wives. Therefore, it’s worthwhile to improve friendship.
Build Positive Interactions
Friendship is built upon shared experiences. Those experiences can be light and breezy or deep and challenging. Some of those experiences will include conflict. That’s okay. However, research shows that happy couples have significantly more positive interactions than negative ones. Therefore, it is important to work at building up your positive interactions. Do things that you enjoy together, and do them together often.
Share and Listen
Many friendships are built over long hours of conversation. As we fall into routines, sometimes we stop listening to our partners. This is a big mistake. Make the time and effort to listen to one another. True listening means:
- Sharing your thoughts openly, honestly, and authentically.
- Listening to your partner’s thoughts without judgment.
- Asking open-ended questions and being truly curious.
- Noticing new things in your partner’s life and asking about them.
- Going beyond, “how was your day?” and other rote questions.
Additionally, one powerful way to strengthen your friendship is to tell your story. You each have a story about how you met and fell in love. Have you talked about that lately? Remind one another. You might discover that you have different stories. Explore them. Come up with a shared narrative that feels good for both of you.
Recognize and Respond to Bids
Dr. John Gottman also talks about “bids.” Especially in his book, “The Relationship Cure.” A bid occurs anytime your partner reaches out to you for emotional connection. Bids come in the form of
- Facial expressions
For example, your partner might rub your shoulders, poke you playfully, or laugh in an inviting way. If you ignore them, you miss an opportunity to strengthen your friendship. Instead, recognize the bid and give them your attention and affection.
Tips to Improve Friendship in Marriage
Here are some additional things that you can do to improve friendship.
- Practice gratitude – for your partner, your relationship, your life together.
- Establish and nurture mutual respect for each other at all times.
- Give each other the benefit of the doubt.
- Offer and accept compliments. Likewise with apologies.
- Be your partner’s teammate. Side with them.
- Try doing things that the other partner loves to do.
- Offer each other unconditional support.
In other words, treat your partner like a cherished friend. After all, isn’t that what they truly are?
Of course, sometimes these things are easier said than done. Relationships could also have a lot of baggage. Couples therapy can help you unpack the baggage if necessary and get your best friend back.