Can a man and a woman (or any two people who could potentially be attracted to each other), be just friends? While this has been up for debate for centuries, one thing is certain: friendship in a relationship is key for long-lasting success.
Why Friendship in a Relationship Matters
The question of friendship between men and women is nothing new. Some people believe they can be “just friends,” while others don’t think it’s possible. In reality, there’s no clear cut answer. It’s a topic that could go either way depending on the person and the situation.
But when it comes to friendship and relationships, the connection is clear: working to strengthen friendship in a marriage or other long-term relationship is a critical part of making a relationship last.
Friendship is at the core of any strong relationship. Research has shown that a high quality friendship in a marriage is an important predictor of both romantic and physical satisfaction. Couples who are friends report higher levels of happiness in their relationships than couples who aren’t. Some research has even found that friendship in a marriage is five times more important than physical intimacy. Now, that’s saying something.
If you think about it, it makes sense that couples who are friends are happier than couples who aren’t. When you are friends with someone, you look forward to spending time with them, you value what they have to say, and, perhaps most importantly, you feel safe with them.
Feeling safe with your partner is extremely important, because it leads to deeper levels of intimacy and sharing. You are less likely to feel judged when you feel safe and you are more likely to have a good foundation of trust.
Ok, but what if maintaining a friendship in a relationship hasn’t exactly been at the top of you and your significant other’s priorities?
Here’s some good news! There are many wonderful ways to build, or strengthen friendship in a relationship. Here are some ways to get started.
Tips for Maintaining a Friendship in a Relationship
Are you ready to build more friendship in a marriage or other relationship? Then these simple strategies are perfect for you!
Make The Time
Just like flowers need sun and water, friendships need time and energy to grow. Set specific times that you and your partner are going to hang out alone. Consider these times a priority. If you can’t find childcare, make time to connect when the kids go to bed. Turn off all of your devices, and just talk.
Wondering what to talk about? Check out these 82 fun questions to get to know your partner all over again.
Find Common Ground
Do you and your partner both enjoy bowling? Sipping expressos? Game of Thrones? Whatever it is that you and your loved one like to do, do it together as a simple way to build a stronger friendship in a relationship.
Maybe you have an interest that you think your partner wouldn’t be into. You never know unless you ask. It’s a great bonding experience to try something new together. Plus, it’s fun to be the one to introduce a new activity into your partner’s life.
Communication, Communication, Communication
Communication is to relationships what location is to real estate. Partners who use open and honest communication are less likely to hold onto grudges and more able to forgive each other for small missteps. Plus, communication will help bring to light simple misunderstandings, that might otherwise turn into huge and messy fights.
Make communicating about your relationship a regular thing and watch your friendship grow, too. Set aside 1 hour every week or every other week to discuss your relationship. This gives you both a space to air concerns without wondering how to bring it up. But don’t just complain – let your partner know what is going well in the relationship too. Remember, building friendship in a relationship should be a positive experience!
See Your Partner For Who They Are
In my many years of working with couples, it’s become clear that most people just want to be seen for who they truly are – not who their partner wants them to be. Being a real friend to your significant other means seeing all of their parts, not just the shiny ones, and loving them anyway.
This simple act of acceptance and love is one of the best things you can do if you’re wondering how to strengthen friendship in a relationship.
Need More Help With Friendship and Relationships?
Maintaining friendship in a relationship isn’t always easy. If you’ve tried the tips above and are still struggling with friendship and marriage, then it may be time to call in a professional.
If you would like more tips on how to build or maintain a friendship with your partner, contact Couples Learn. Whether you want to try online couples counseling with your partner or want to start with individual therapy online, we can help.