Happy marriages are based on deep friendships
“It is not a lack of love, but a lack of friendship that makes unhappy marriages”. Friedrich Nietzsche
Most couples I see at the practice are experiencing high levels of distress. What stands out for me is the lack of friendship and connection between the couple. They no longer enjoy each others company, or share with each other their likes, dislikes, hopes and dreams.
Friendship is extremely important in a marriage and research shows that happy and healthy marriages are based on a deep friendship. This friendship is characterised by respect for each other and enjoying the time they spend together. They also do little things on a daily basis to remain connected and show affection.
Most importantly their positive feelings about each other outweigh their negative ones. For example, if their partner says or does something, it is not interpreted in a negative manner. The partner is given the benefit of doubt. Simple discussions between them are not seen as attacks with a need to defend and argue. If they have a strong friendship base, it is easier to perceive their partner in a more positive light. As such only major issues are likely to cause problems in the marriage.
However when friendship levels drop in a marriage, couples are likely to experience negative sentiments towards each other, and minor issues erupt into major conflicts.
So it is crucial to strengthen marital friendship as couples feel safe and secure allowing for more open communication with each other. Nurturing this friendship requires effort and below are some practical skills that you might find useful:
Sharing with each other things that happen in your daily life.
Spending time together and doing things that are of interest to both of you. In other words, have fun together!
Talk to each other about your hopes and dreams, and establish goals towards which you both can aim to achieve.
Chose your partner daily and by that I mean make him or her a priority. Support each others successes and stand by each other during times of need.
Show appreciation by bringing to attention the kind, loving and caring things your partner does. Focus on your partners positive qualities.
It’s encouraging to see couples that make these subtle changes, strengthen their marital-friendship, rekindling their marriage.