What does it mean to maintain a friendship after your wedding day? Do you remember what it was like when you first established a relationship with your spouse? Was it an intimate relationship or a friendship? Most relationships begin as friends and may naturally develop into romantic relationships. If that is the case, then why do many couples face hardships in their marriage if they are friends? The simple response is that external factors and stressors such as domestic duties, financial responsibilities, childrearing, and much more become the focal point of marital relationships.
Imagine if you remained friends with your partner, how would your marriage be different? When couples are friends, there is less risk for separation or divorce. Friendship creates a strong connection between couples that makes them want to stay together.
In my clinical experience, it has become evident that all couples desire to have a strong friendship with their partner yet struggle with the necessary steps to accomplish this task. Here are some suggestions:
Schedule a date on the calendar
On the date, avoid talking about external stressors
Ask open-ended questions
Update your love map – getting to know various aspects of your partner’s world
Be an active and reflective listener
Show genuine interest in your partner’s expressions
Validate and empathize with your partner’s situation
Understand your partner’s experience
Your spouse is like your best friend who provides you with a fulfilling married life. The commitment of married couples to discover life’s journey together enhances friendship through contentment, companionship, shared concern and thought. Marital friendship is important because it strengthens physical and emotional connection, creates openness, maintains a sense of marital security, gives you peace of mind prioritizing each other’s needs, enjoy each other’s company, and provides marital satisfaction.
I believe that every couple can transform their marital relationship into a happier, healthier one by taking intentional and purposeful actions. Sometimes it may require partner(s) to shift their mindset to accomplish the goals that will reunite them with their spouse within the friendship system.