When you think about the qualities you love in your best friend, what comes to mind? She’s probably easy to be around. You could spend all day in each other’s company and still want to continue to conversation. She knows everything about you, good and bad and is never judgmental. You know she’s got your back and you have hers. You can call each other anytime, day or night. If needed, you know you would both drop everything to be at each other’s side.
Now, does this describe your relationship with your spouse? For many couples, their marital relationship is not the same as their friendships outside the couple. This is especially true for long marriages where things have settled into a routine. Sometimes a blah routine, where you don’t really talk deeply about anything anymore. You’ve just received some fantastic news and the first person you want to share it with is your best friend and not your spouse?
Best Friends: What does that mean?
When couples first marry, they often describe their relationship as “the best friendship with sex included!” When we talk about being best friends with someone, what are some of the things that come to mind? Here are some ways women describe their best friends. These also may sound like what your marriage initially included, but perhaps no longer does.
- She understands me, without me having to explain everything
- She brings out the best qualities in me—my intelligence, my curiosity, my desire to explore challenges, my empathy, my service to others, my funny side
- When I’m down, she helps me remember my good qualities
- She never judges me
- She allows me to have bad days/moods and understands these have nothing to do with her. She allows me to be down but doesn’t let me stay there too long
- She knows my favorites: foods, music, hobbies, clothing style and is always on point with birthday presents
- Knows all my history and loves me despite the errors I’ve made
- Can chill with me all day and never be bored, even if we don’t say much
- Takes joy in my accomplishments and is never jealous of my wins
Are these same qualities present in your spouse?
Sometimes couples lose these “best friend” qualities as time moves forward. Instead of understanding your spouse’s differences, you accuse them of never understanding your way of thinking. When you are down, your spouse tells you to “cheer up!” rather than allowing you to be a little blue from time to time. They may be jealous if you are doing better than them professionally. You may withhold information about your past from your spouse, fearing judgement or criticism. If your marriage sounds like it, it’s time to infuse your relationship with friendship.
Here are 5 ways to bring back friendship into your marriage
1. Bringing back friendship into your relationship will take work
If only you are paying attention to reigniting what has been lost, your task will be enormous, and you may start to feel resentful towards your spouse. Rebuilding friendship will be impossible if resentment is present. Both of you need to commit to this project.
2. Reorganize your lives so that you can spend more time together
Do you usually go straight from the office to work out at the gym, coming home just in time for a quick bite before going to bed? Either cut out the gym time or get your spouse on board as a workout partner. You can’t expect to rebuild your friendship if you aren’t physically in the same place together. This isn’t an online relationship; this is the real deal.
3. Invest in each other
This means investing time and energy, engaging in conversation, and paying attention. When your spouse is talking to you, engage. Put aside your phone. Turn off the TV. Shut down the pc. Turn towards them and listen like they are telling you something marvelous.
4. Care for each other in a real way
When your spouse is feeling down or depressed, show that you care about their state of mind. Don’t brush off his emotions with a “cheer up! Things can’t be that bad!” Sit down and ask them to expand on what is going on. Nod and acknowledge that you are hearing them. “It’s understandable that you’d feel sad about that,” is a good way to show you are truly listening to them. You don’t need to offer solutions, you just need to show them you are present.
5. Be excited about their life
If your spouse comes home and tells you about a new work project that he is eager to begin, be excited for him. Celebrate his positive energy. Say something affirming, such as “I can tell you can’t wait to dig into this! I know you will do well with this new challenge.” After all, that’s what a best friend would say, right?
The rewards of being best friends with your spouse
With marriage, being in a secure relationship is gratifying. When this bond also includes a best friendship, the rewards are multiple. You are there for each other in a profound way that allows you to be brave, to create, explore, imagine, love and support each other and those around you from a secure base.