The Importance of Friendship In Marriage
At GroundWork Counseling in Orlando, our couples therapist utilizes an evidence-based approach to help couples strengthen and rebuild their relationship.
When people think of marital satisfaction, healthy marriages, and factors that increase the longevity and health of marriages, topics that come up usually center on intimacy, sex, and conflict resolution. These aspects of a relationship are very important; however, more recent research has shown that it is a basis of friendship in a marriage that is the most significant factor for the health of the relationship.
The tendency to see romantic relationships as separate and different from friendships fuels this focus. Individuals think they need to put their effort into making grand gestures or finding new and sexy ways to “reconnect” or “rekindle.” Often, couples will prioritize things in their life – work, chores, children or other extended family, or even friends – over their marriage because they are operating under the assumption that their relationship with their spouse is something that is able be put on the back burner and still work. This conceptualization of marriage as a relationship that can allow you to drop the ball keeps couples from feeling as if they can maintain the little things in a marriage that have been shown to be most important, such as spending time, laughing together, and performing small tasks of kindness, affection, or help.
Dr. Gottman, a world-renowned marriage researcher, identified friendship as the most fundamental aspect of a happy marriage. Within the context of a marriage, friendship most importantly includes respect for one another and genuine appreciation for your partner’s presence in your life. Gottman’s and other research have found that the people who regarded their spouses as their best friends were significantly happier than individuals who didn’t think of their spouses in that way, and their well-being was also greatly improved.
Although Dr. Gottman’s theories on marital satisfaction include a host of other factors, including his Sound Relationship House, all those parts are influenced by the presence or absence of friendship from the marriage. The habits of couples that embody this kind of friendly relationship are marked by mutual affection and deep respect for their partner, which are unlikely to co-occur with negative aspects of relationships like the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (Criticism, Defensiveness, Contempt, and Stonewalling). Whether on your own or with the help of a marriage counselor, fostering a friendship with your partner can help to solidify the foundation of your marriage.
If you find that your relationship is struggling, at GroundWork Counseling in Orlando, we’d be happy to help you and your partner rebuild, improve, and strengthen your relationship.
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