Remember when you and your spouse first met? You couldn’t wait to see them again, spend time together, and tell each other every detail of your day! The two of you were thick as thieves.
If friendship is a priority and you have what you’d consider a strong, connected marriage, the way you were then is probably how you still are! If your marriage isn’t so happy and feels more distant and difficult, the friendship you and your partner once had has probably faded or become non-existant.
The great news is that even if that friendship fire has seemingly burned out, the embers of it are still white hot underneath all the ash. Here’s how to stir them up and get that flame a blazin’ again!
1. Connection- Get to know each other again!
One of the reasons that friendship is so important in marriage is that it promotes connection, emotional safety leading to emotional intimacy which then leads to physical intimacy.
If you don’t know your partner for who they are now, you don’t know your partner! I can guarantee they aren’t the same person you married and neither are you! Start asking questions like “how do you like your eggs now?” or “how do you like your coffee/tea?” “What’s one thing you haven’t ever done but always wanted to?”
When we’re in the honeymoon phase of our relationship, so often we can say we like something just because our partner likes it or say something is our favorite because it’s our partner’s favorite. The reality of the situation is we may hate mint chocolate chip ice cream or breakfast tea. So when you’re going through these questions, be open, honest and vulnerable. The more you open up, the more connected you’ll become. If you need help with this, I have a monthly membership that gives you 40 new questions/prompts every month so you never run out of conversation starters!
2. Daily details- talk about all of them!
Ever wonder why one person in a relationship wants all the details and one person hits the high points and moves on? Because the person sharing all the details finds connection in those details. The little intricacies of your story mean the most and make the story-telling an experience for them. Don’t leave them out. They help your partner feel as though they are truly a part of your day.
3. Use all 6 types of Communication!
One way to have that friendship flame quickly extinguish is by only talking about information (1) like “how was your day”, “what’s for dinner” or “what time is that appointment tomorrow”. The second type that will kill the ambiance real quick is only discussing teamwork (2) things like “who’s job is it to take out the trash, switch the laundry, run that errand or pick up Grandma from the airport”.
The conversations that also need to be included each week and in some cases even daily are (3) Conflict resolution, (4) Recognizing, responding to and making your own emotional calls. These calls sound like “hey, what do you think about…” or “look at this!”. It may look like a touch of the hand or arm, reaching to hold hands, a certain look. Couples at dinner can bid for each other’s emotional response over 100 times in that one meal. The happiest marriages answer their partners calls 20 times more than in unhappier marriages. (5) Vulnerable Sharing- this sounds like “I’m feeling…”, “One goal I have is…” or “Our sex life….”. It’s important to listen when your partner is sharing a vulnerable moment with you and validate them when they’re done speaking. Validation does not mean you agree with them. It only means you see their perspective or understand why they feel the way they do. This is not the time for you to interject your own feeling or opinion unless they open it up to become a discussion. (6)Intimate expressions. If you’re not talking about it or during, it’s probably not very good. Communicate what you want, how you want it and how to do it better!
4. Spend Quality Time Together
When you’re married to someone who is gone constantly- (I see you Pilot Wives!) this one has to be massively intentional and most of the time scheduled. Aside from it being many people’s love language, quality time also builds friendship, connection and helps you and your partner engage in shared activities! Did you know that statistically women find connection in conversation while men feel more connected and overall better about the relationship when engaging in a shared activity? Did you also know that this can be watching a movie or show together as long as you’re talking about that show during or after it’s over? My husband and I found all the old Friends episodes on HBO Max and have been laughing, reminiscing and conversating our way through that lately. It’s been super fun! 10/10!
5. Use the Golden Rule
One of the most important parts of building friendship in your marriage is treating them like your friend. So often we replace our friendship with contempt, criticism, blame, guilt, gaslighting and overall rude behavior. We stop being worthy of respect and/or we stop respecting our partner in general. Would you treat your friend that way and expect them to keep being your friend? Probably not. So, expressing yourself in a healthy way, communicating thoroughly and kindly, using healthy conflict resolution and following the previous four steps is key to having a fulfilling, long lasting marriage with your best friend!
If this is a struggle for you and your partner, you want it but you just can’t seem to get on the same page- reach out. I’ve got one spot open for private couples coaching and two spots left for private individual coaching. Reply to this email when you’re ready to put your name on one of those spots!