This is my wife, Carrie. We’ve been married for 30 years, and that whole time she’s also been my best friend. Recently, I wrote an article about how we have been able to stay happily married for so long. I’m not gonna lie, it was totally her looks that attracted me to her, but it was her personality that sealed the deal. She was just so fun to hang out with. We have been best friends from day one.
It Always Starts Out That Way But……
Most couples are best friends when they get married, however, over time, the challenges of life can interfere with that relationship. It happens gradually, until one day you realize that you and your spouse aren’t as close as you used to be. You still love each other. You’re still intimate. But that sense of being best friends, that “me and you against the world” idea, has begun to fade a little bit. There are a lot of ways that life can let itself into the back door of your marriage. Here are just a few:
Before we had kids, most nights Carrie and I would lay in bed and have our last conversation of the day. We’d solve the world’s problems, daydream about our future together, and giggle (sometimes for hours) as we drifted off to sleep. During the two year wait for our first child to come home, we’d lay there and talk about all the fun things we were going to do as a family. Did you do that too? I bet you talked about how many kids you were going to have and what they would look like. You probably discussed how many boys and how many girls you wanted. Were they going to play baseball or soccer? Whatever it was, you talked about your future and your family, you probably giggled like we did, and the two of you became closer because of it.
Now, several years and maybe a few kids later, you have that family. It’s everything you dreamed of. Your kids are awesome, smart, sweet, funny, talented and beautiful. But they are also messy, hungry, demanding and stubborn. Your kids won’t eat their vegetables, brush their teeth, or flush the toilet. They fight over the computer, the dog, and the most illogical things they can think of. They need rides everywhere. Worst of all, they never ever go to bed! Gradually, that great line of communication between you and your spouse has been replaced with deliberation, negotiation and even arguments.
What about work? Do you and your spouse work at two different jobs, at two different locations and maybe even two different schedules? Or maybe one of you stays at home with the kids. There are bills to pay and you really need to get that promotion. You spend too much time at work and when you’re home, your mind is still somewhere else. Or, maybe you hate your job and spend most of your time in a funk, thinking about how much you dread going there each day. Either way, your job has found it’s way into your marriage and usually it doesn’t make for very good conversation.
Has an interest or a hobby worked it’s way into what used to be your time together? You spent a lot of time together when you were first married. But over the years you have found hobbies or interests that don’t include your spouse. Does that sound like you? I wonder how many golf widows secretly prayed for bad weather on the weekend so their husband would have to stay at home and hang out with them. It’s sad, but I bet it happens.
Are you annoyed because your spouse’s friends are getting too much of their time? Does your husband go over to his buddy’s house to watch football all day Saturday? Or worse yet, does his buddy come over to your house? Maybe your husband likes to go out for drinks after work with his friends, or your wife spends every Saturday morning drinking coffee with hers. Whatever it is, are one or both of you spending a little too much time hanging out with friends when you could be spending time with with each other?
Do you recognize yourself in any of the above scenarios? If you don’t mind, I’d like to share four helps that I have learned over the past 30 years of marriage.
Four Ways You Can Improve Your Friendship
Make Your Friendship a Priority
There are three aspects to every good marriage. You are friends, lovers and partners. Of the three, friendship is the most important.
Yes, intimacy is important in a marriage, but it’s not everything. There, I said it! Marriage isn’t just about sex. It may be a man’s favorite part, and it may be what we constantly think about, but we spend a whole lot more time doing the other things that married people do. The fact is, lots of couples have great intimacy, but end up divorced because they can’t get along outside of the bedroom.
The partnership aspect of your marriage is also important. You have to work as a team to get through all of the chores of maintaining a functional family unit. You might think of your partnership as the business or executive functions of your marriage. Yes, your partnership is important, but it definitely isn’t the fun part, unless you are an accountant I guess.
Friendship is the fun, laughter, care, understanding, empathy, and joy of your marriage. It’s the shared experiences of triumph and heartache. It’s the part of marriage where you are willing to sacrifice and persevere, together. Early in your relationship, it was your friendship that brought you together. Years later, it’s your friendship that will keep you together. When financial or emotional struggles, age, and your health make the other two aspects of marriage difficult or impossible, you will always be able to count on your friendship. Yep, friendship is what will keep your marriage alive, but it needs constant nurturing or just like a fire without fuel it will begin to go out.
Create Quality Time Together
Back when you were young and didn’t have kids and other responsibilities, you were able to spend quality time together without even planning it. Well, for most of us (especially those of us with kids) those days are gone. You might have a family and maybe you are busy trying to keep up with the demands of life, but that doesn’t mean you can neglect your best friend. You have to find a way to spend quality time with your spouse, even if you have to create that time. Maybe your life isn’t as spontaneous as it used to be, but with a little bit of planning, in can be just as fun and fulfilling. So, make time together a priority and set some of those honey dos aside, they will still be there next week.
When you were newlyweds, being best friends naturally flowed out of your love for each other. As the years go by, it takes more of an effort to maintain your friendship. There are too many distractions that get in the way. You literally have to attend to your relationship. Think of it like this: when you were first married, being best friends was as easy as breathing or blinking. But, life comes along, kids, friends, careers, etc, and pretty soon you forget what once came naturally. If this sounds like you, it’s OK. Just be aware of it and adjust to the fact that now you have to take a more conscious approach to your friendship. Don’t forget to buy your friend a gift for no reason. Tell them you love them a few extra times a day. Wrestle and tickle them and generally make them think you have lost your mind.
You knew this was coming didn’t you. It’s just common sense that you have to constantly communicate if you want to maintain your friendship. But, that might be easier said than done. If your family life is anything like mine, you are most likely talking about the kids, your budget, your busy schedule, who’s taking Jimmy to cub scouts and how are we going to pay for Sarah’s braces. Oh, and darn it, you forgot to get groceries. That is totally not the kind of communication I’m talking about.
It’s the quality of your communication that is important here. You can be great at planning, coordinating and problem solving, but if that’s the sum total of your communication with your spouse then where is the quality? You have effectively rocked the partnership thing, but where’s the friendship?
Quality communication is where the two of you have a good laugh. Good communication leaves you in a great mood and feeling some affection towards your bestie.
Try the Seven Days to Your Better Best Friend Challenge!
So, is your spouse your best friend? I bet they are. You just need to make that friendship your priority, create some quality time together, be intentional about it and by all means, make each other laugh. A lot!
Because we feel so strongly that a good marriage is the key to a thriving family, we developed a seven day challenge for you to try. If you think that your relationship, though good, could use a little kick start, we’d like to offer you the opportunity to try the Seven Days To Your Better Best Friend Challenge. The challenge is simple, fun, and absolutely free. All you have to do is click on the button below, and I will send the workbook to you so that you and your spouse can get started right away. In it, you will find seven daily challenges. Each day you will spend 15-30 minutes discussing a different topic. The goal of the challenge is for you to reteach yourself those communication habits that you had when you were still newlyweds, before the stresses and pressures of work and family gradually began to work their way into your relationship.
Big Giant Bonus!!!
One lucky couple who signs up for the course will also win a $50 Visa card which will be sent in time for you to use on Valentines Day. So hurry up and click that button above and get signed up. Because who doesn’t want to win $50!!!
I hope you decide to take the challenge and then let me know what you think. Your feedback is really important. I will be offering this challenge again in a few months. I need to know if there are any changes you think I need to make to improve the challenge.