In my previous blog, “What Makes a Happy Marriage?” one of my key tips was a strong sense of friendship. That friendship is the foundation for your marriage. Both spouses should feel that their life partner is a true friend. Your spouse should be a friend that is always there for you in good times and bad times. Your spouse should be a friend who knows your goals, hopes and worries. Your spouse should be a friend who you enjoy spending time with even if it is running around taking care of errands. Dr. John Gottman, co-founder of the Gottman Institute said, “Happy marriages are based on a deep friendship, mutual respect and enjoyment of each other’s company.” It is important to recognize that genuine friendship is the cornerstone that shapes your relationship.
Six Tips for Building Friendship in Your Relationship
- Ask your spouse questions about their life. Finding out about their childhood, their dreams for the future, what they do in a typical day are ways that you can deepen your connection with your spouse. One activity that I do during couples counseling is Dr. John Gottman’s Love Map. This is a list of questions that help you understand your spouse’s world. It is an excellent way to learn about each other as the questions range from something you might already know, something you might think to ask and some creative out of the box questions. All of the questions get you talking and connecting with your spouse.
- Explore your shared interests and take a class together. It can be something that you have been thinking about or something new that you come up with together. Ballroom dancing, gardening, a cooking class, a magic class are just a few ideas.
- Enjoy your spouse for who they are by taking the time to find out what hobbies they are passionate about and try engaging in that activity together. It might not be a common interest and that is okay. Going out of your comfort zone can show your spouse that you value them and their interests. It also shows that you would be willing to try something new so you could spend more time together.
- Make a bucket list together. What are some of the things that you want to do? Share those thoughts with your spouse and see which ones you have in common. Then take the next step and start planning how you go about checking things off your list.
- Play a board game. Yes, we are in the age of video games but stores still sell the timeless board games. Monopoly, The Game of Life, Twister and many more are all games that will get you talking and interacting in a playful way.
- Whenever an opportunity arises that you can show your spouse that you got their back, do it. If your spouse asks for help, be there. If your spouse needs emotional support, be there. If your spouse needs comfort, be there. If your spouse is celebrating, be there. If your spouse is happy, be there. Being present in each other’s lives is a fantastic way to keep the friendship alive so you can continue to grow as a couple.
What is your goal for your marriage? Is it to have a fulfilling enjoyable loving relationship? If it is, then have fun with your loved one and do things that you can do together. As you are doing these things, you are nurturing your friendship! One of my favorite quotes was said by Jeremy Taylor. He said “Love is friendship set on fire.” This quote had so much meaning for me that I said it in my wedding vows. It represented everything I hoped for in my relationship with my husband.
As a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist who specializes in relationships and couples, I can provide you with the tips and techniques to deepen your friendship with your spouse. If you feel that you could benefit from my services, please contact me to set up an appointment.
Your Relationship Expert,