If you ask ten people for the most important factor in a successful marriage, you might get ten different answers. This makes sense as relationships can vary widely from case to case. However, many relationship commonalities do exist.
Prevalent themes among couples are generally linked to money, sex, children, etc. But one key factor is too often overlooked and undervalued: friendship.
Marriage is much more than “I do” and “love at first sight.” It is a connection between friends. If that connection is frayed, the marriage will suffer. Fortunately, there are ways to rebuild the friendship underlying the wedding vows.
Where Does Friendship Go?
Love is wonderful and it can endure forever. The far trickier component is compatibility. Couples must be ever-vigilant to guard against the slow shifts of time. We all change and never stop changing. This doesn’t have to become a problem but, unless we pay close attention, the schisms can take shape in many forms, e.g.
- Spending less time together
- Not finding new interests together
- Loss of trust
- The absence of shared short- and long-term goals
Basically, after the honeymoon phase, real life intervenes. Caught up on this treadmill can lead to us no longer prioritizing the health of our relationships.
Does it Have to be BFF and Spouse?
Studies show that couples who view each other as friends report more relationship satisfaction and a deeper bond. But this is not to say you and your spouse must also be “best friends.” It is absolutely essential that both of you develop and maintain independent social lives.
Each of us needs at least one other person to confide in, to trust, and to share experiences. So don’t turn this into a pressurized situation. You can be close, bonded friends with your spouse while also needing and enjoying quality time with other friends.
How to Rebuild Your Friendship for a Happy Marriage
A big problem for busy couples is what they leave unsaid. No matter how close you are, you cannot read each other’s minds. Communication is the non-negotiable foundation for a friendship, relationship, or a combination of both.
Schedule in Together Time
Life is hectic so get out your calendars and make a plan. Don’t leave your quality time as a couple to chance.
Practice Sympathetic Joy
Celebrate together. It could be something major like a job promotion. It could be something more unique, like attaining a personal best in your daily run. Let your spouse/friend know how excited you are for them and with them.
Put Down Your Devices
Do not rely on texts or online chats. When scheduling in your together time, make sure it’s engaging and face-to-face.
Treat Each Other as Equals
All friendships thrive on mutual respect. There are many social dynamics that can play a role, e.g. age, faith, ethnicity, gender, wealth, and so on. Equality doesn’t happen by accident. Use your communication skills during your scheduled face-to-face time to make sure both of you are being heard and validated.
Couples Counseling Can Make a Huge Difference
Everyday life can do a number on any relationship — especially amid the stressors of our current age! Even the most connected, loving duos can begin to feel like roommates when trying to juggle expenses, kids, careers, in-laws, etc. There is no shame in the struggle. Thankfully, there is a proven path toward recovery.
Couples counseling is an excellent choice at any point in a relationship. If you feel your underlying friendship is not being allowed to grow, it makes sense to meet with a skilled professional to work on the patterns and habits that may be responsible. Either in-person or via private and confidential teletherapy, relationship/marriage counseling for couples can serve as the glue for your friendship bond.
Got questions? We offer a complementary 20-minute phone consultation. This gives you the opportunity to understand how we can help you and your spouse specifically, in your unique situation. When you are ready to take steps toward strengthening your marriage, feel free to contact us at Crossroad’s Counseling by calling us at 623-680-3486, texting 623-688-5115, or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org and ask to speak with one of our marriage counselors. We offer a 20 minute complementary phone call. You can ask all the questions you have and see if marriage counseling at Crossroads is the right fit for you.