Do you consider your other half as your best friend? What about as one of your closest friends? The following quote made both Kate and I think a little more about this question. Here’s the quote:
“There are certain things that you may take for granted with your spouse, but there are very few things that you really take for granted with your best friend,” he says. “You never really want to let your best friend down. The fundamental thing that you have for your best friend is respect. That's why I view her first as my best friend…then my wife.”
The quote, by the way, comes from Seal by way of Oprah’s Celebrity Couples episode. (Blame Kate for watching it. I only pay attention when Dr. Oz talks about men’s health. Honest!)
Seal is on to something here. In fact, his intuition is backed up by cold hard science.
Dr. John Gottman, professor emeritus at U. of Washington and head of the Relationship Research Lab has found that, by far (70%), the most influential factor for men and women feeling satisfied with the sex, romance, and passion in their marriage is the quality of the couples friendship. That statistic, and many other great pieces of information, can be found in his book, 7 Principles for Making Marriage Work.
This may explain why many of us use ‘incredible’, ‘consuming in a good way’, or ‘intoxicating’ to describe the early stages of our relationships. For that courting period, you treated each other as a best friend and confidant. It was fresh, fun, and exciting.
The question is: Did you keep that feeling going over the course of your relationship? Those with the most fulfilling relationships have been successful at keeping their friendships fun, fresh, and, as Seal suggests, respectful.
As Kate began to care more for our kids and work less with me, we found ourselves missing each other. We realized how close we were as friends and started to work more on connecting. It felt a little strange at first but now, after a year of thoughtfully cultivating our already strong friendship, its second nature.
Viewing your partner as your best friend does not mean at you cannot have other great friends. Time spent with my guy friends is invaluable to me and Kate recognizes this. In fact, I’d argue that its essential for each partner to have their own friends outside of the relationship. But that doesn’t change the basic need for treating each other as the closest of friends.
So, do you treat your other half as your best friend? If not, its worth the effort to give it a shot.