Friendship in marriage is one of the major principles in a loving, successful marriage. Yes, romance is important, but friendship is at the heart of a good, happy marriage.
So how do you keep your friendship with your spouse strong? We’ve got some ideas about this essential relationship concept.
Should Your Spouse Be Your Best Friend?
Your husband or wife is your partner, lover, soulmate, and more. Should they also be your best friend?
I think…kind of?
I’m of the opinion that your marriage relationship is the most important relationship of your whole life. Your spouse should be your #1. But at the same time, your spouse can’t be everything for you. Partners are not designed to meet and fulfill every single one of our needs. That’s why nurturing relationships with family, friends, and your community is so important. Your husband is your everything, but at the same time, he’s not everything.
I think that being best friends with your husband is a great thing, but it may not be vital. It’s cool to have other best friends in your life. Friends that play different roles and fill different needs in your life. My best friend Haley, for instance, is someone I can always talk to and depend on. We talk about personal issues and our marriages, too.
We sometimes talk about things that wouldn’t interest Nathan. And we discuss subjects that are personal to women, stuff our men just don’t “get.” I think having a best friend like this is integral to my happiness and wellbeing. It’s likely you have a friend or two like this, too.
And yet, my husband is still the person I am closest to in the entire world. And he’s my best friend, too. So, there’s that.
Basically, you need to have friendship in your marriage. You should 100% be friends with your spouse, however you define it.
The Benefits of Friendship and Marriage
Relationship research shows time and again that friendship is a major predictor of a successful marriage. Maybe that’s because feelings of being “in love” don’t necessarily last, but the deep, abiding closeness of friendship does.
That’s not to say that friendship between husband and wife doesn’t have plenty of romance. Friendship does not have to be anti-romance but rather is what goes deeper than the fleeting feelings of being in love that are (naturally) more transient over the course of a decades-long relationship.
There are certainly many benefits to being friends with your spouse. One: all the fun you can have together! It is often said that being married is like having a best friend and having a constant sleepover. That’s a cute analogy for sure. But having a friend in your husband or in your wife means even more. It means you have someone to confide in, to share moments good and bad. You’ve got a person you can go to for advice or when you simply need someone to listen to you vent. Ultimately, you have a companion you can trust with all of your heart who knows you inside and out and loves you just the same.
If you feel like your friendship is lacking or that your spouse isn’t a great friend to you, then there may be some things to work on. Perhaps unsurprisingly, many of the qualities that make someone a good friend also make them a good partner.
Read Next: 8 Ways to Create More Romance in Your Relationship
7 Tips for Maintaining Your Friendship in Marriage
We’ve got a few tips for creating (and keeping) a strong friendship in your marriage. This is stuff that works for us in our own marriage, and which can apply to other close friendships in your life as well.
Seek opportunities to try new things
Friendship is about having fun. Marriage won’t always be fun, it can be, and you can certainly make an effort to have more adventures and enjoyment together. One of the best ways to do this is to try something new together. This could be anything: a class you take together, a skill you try to learn by watching videos, or a new type of meal or restaurant you sample.
When you learn with a partner, or discover something new together, you bond with one another. This strengthens your connection as a team, particularly if you tackle something that is challenging or unfamiliar. And you try new, fun things together, you’ll be not only drawing closer together emotionally, but you’ll be making special memories you can look back on.
Allow for conflict
Neither marriage or friendship is totally rosy. In fact, the healthiest friendships are those in which each person can be honest with the other. Sometimes, this means giving your friend “tough love” or confronting them with a difficult topic. Such an interaction may not be easy, but it’s done because you love and care for this person and their wellbeing.
This part of friendship is necessary, and it is especially potent in a marriage. By allowing for true honesty, each partner allows room to express themselves authentically. This may sometimes lead to conflict, but because you have a basis in a compassionate friendship, the conflict provides opportunities for growth. In short, you both become better people.
Go ahead and have fun! Being playful is one of the things that keeps you in a friendship mindset, but it also is something that keeps you young.
Make room for playfulness in your relationship. This can take so many forms! One of my favorite suggestions is to send a flirty text to your husband. This is a little thing, but it can be unexpected by your spouse and can inspire a feeling of playful flirtation. It brings back the spark of an earlier time in your relationship, and serves to keep your love light and fun. (PS: your text can be silly or loving, too, if you’re not in a flirty mood).
Never stop laughing together. What’s more playful than laughter? A shared sense of humor is one of the key aspects of all of my favorite friendships and relationships. In my marriage, my husband and I love watching funny videos together, catching live comedy shows, or just laughing at our own antics. If you want to keep your friendship sparkling, laughter truly is the best medicine.
Take an interest
When we’re first dating someone, we take an extra interest in their likes, dislikes, and hobbies. We are keen to be part of their world and learn everything about them.
Don’t let this stop in your marriage! Continue to take a keen interest in the things that make your partner happy. Not only does this invite deeper friendship, but it ensures you’re always learning something new about your partner.
This doesn’t mean you have to share the same hobbies as your spouse, and it doesn’t mean you necessarily have to participate in certain hobbies with them, either. I love theatre and performing in shows, but while Nathan will certainly encourage me to audition and listen to me as I talk about rehearsals, he’s not joining me up there onstage! He has no interest in doing so! Most of the time, taking an interest in your partner’s world involves nothing more than listening, and giving your partner your full, dedicated attention.
Read Next: 6 Marriage Mistakes You Might Be Making
Be a good listener
Speaking of listening, learn to get good at it. This is one of the best pieces of advice for everyone, everywhere. In the classic self-help book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, the author suggests that we always “seek first to understand” before trying to be understood. The way to do this is through careful listening.
I can’t think of any situation in which this advice wouldn’t be beneficial. And in a marriage, proper listening has countless benefits including avoiding misunderstanding and conflict, conveying thoughts and emotions with clarity, and ensuring your partner truly feels seen and heard.
You would try to be a good listener for a friend right? So do it for your spouse as well.
Read Next: What a Wife Needs from Her Husband
Friendship is not just about closeness but about space, too. In fact, space is something necessary for fostering the healthiest relationships. With space, we (literally) have room to grow and change and become our best selves. We also have the time and space to focus on ourselves, which is the way we become a better partner.
Could one of the ways to become best friends with your husband be to give him the space he needs? Nathan and I have figured out this balance pretty well in our relationship. He’s a serious introvert, and to be feeling his best, he needs time alone to recharge. I respect this need for solitude and I do my best to allow him the freedom to get it. It’s not always easy for me—I crave closeness pretty much nonstop—but I know it is one of his most important needs and so I do it for him.
And you know what, I can’t believe I’m going to say this, but absence really does make the heart grow fonder!
Make time to really talk
Finally, one of the secrets to having a great friendship in your marriage is probably the simplest: talk. Together and often. Conversation provides a window to the soul of your spouse, especially if you tackle the deeper subjects. (PS: You should do this even before getting married). Don’t just chat about work and your dinner plans. Make time and an effort to talk about real things that matter to both of you. Need some ideas? Check out our list of conversation starters for couples.
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