5 Ways to Become Your Spouseís Best Friend Want to have a deeper sense of love and trust in your marriage? Then, itís time you and your spouse become best friends. Hereís how. BY SHARON RIVKIN, M.A., M.F.T.
After a while it may become easy to take our spouse for granted and treat them as if they're less than a friend.
“ You probably know what it really takes to make your spouse feel cared about and loved, but are you doing it? And if you really donít know, itís time to ask.”
If your marriage is suffering, have you ever considered that friendship is lacking in your relationship?
A main component for a successful and fulfilling marriage is having a trusting friendship with your spouse. Like any deep friendship that you have with someone, it takes being a good friend to have a good friend. But why is it important that your spouse become your best friend?
Look at the close friendships you already have and their benefits. You value that you can be yourself, talk about anything without being judged, you have a lot in common, and if you have an argument, youíre less likely to shame or blame your friend. Youíre also more careful with your friends because you donít want to hurt their feelings. With your spouse, however, you might take them for granted and not care what you say or how you say it, which just leads to more fights and resentmentÖ and how is a close friendship possible when thereís so much resentment built up?
So how do you cultivate a friendship with your husband or wife? Start by doing things differently! Here are five ways to make over your marriage so that your new best friend can be your spouse:
1. Arguments. Next time you have a disagreement with your partner, think of them as your friend, and then ask yourself, "If I this was my friend that I was upset with, how would I respond?" You would most likely not shame or blame or hit below the belt.
2. Take an interest in your spouse. When you talk to your friend, youíre interested in knowing how things are going with them and, if theyíre having problems, youíre all ears. You also have patience and words of wisdom to offer. Why not do the same with your spouse? Start simple. When he/she comes from work, ask them how their day was, and really be ready to listen.
3. Go out on a limb. There are certain activities you could do, but you choose not to because you donít love to do them. In the beginning of a relationship, weíre game for anything, but as time goes on, we start getting lazy. If we donít like something, we just pass it off. But that could start creating distance with our partner. The next time your spouse wants to do something that youíre not wild about doing, do it anyway. View it as a way to get closer and a chance to spend time with the person you love.
4. Have your spouseís back. The healthiest relationships are those where youíre a team; where you protect each other and stand up for one another. This creates safety in the marriage, which then creates closeness and trust. So the next time you witness someone making a cutting comment to your spouse or treating them poorly, step in and come to his/her defense. The outcome for your partner is a feeling that someone is on their side and has their backóand thatís a really good feeling for both of you.
5. Speak your spouseís language. This is one of the most important skills to develop. You probably know what it really takes to make your spouse feel cared about and loved, but are you doing it? And if you really donít know, itís time to ask. For instance, maybe your spouse feels loved through your expressions of affection toward them, or maybe itís important when you feel understood and he expresses it in just the right way. If you know the right "language" that makes your spouse feel loved and youíre using that language, youíll be amazed at how quickly your marriage can turn around.
Putting these five tips into action will start cultivating a friendship with your spouse that can lead to becoming best friendsóand when that happens, your marriage transforms to a deeper level of love, intimacy, and trust.
Also known as the "last ditch effort therapist," Sharon M. Rivkin, therapist and conflict resolution/affairs expert, is the author of "Breaking the Argument Cycle: How to Stop Fighting Without Therapy" and developer of the First Argument Technique, a 3-step system that helps couples fix their relationships and understand why they fight. Her work has been featured in Oprah Magazine, Reader's Digest, Time.com, Yahoo!News.com, WebMD.com, and DrLaura.com. Sharon has appeared on TV, was quoted on The Insider TV show, and makes regular radio appearances nationwide. She has also appeared on Martha Stewart Whole Living Radio and is the "Resident Shrink" on Coach Ron Tunick's radio show, The Business of Life, on KKZZ 1400AM. For more information, please visit her website at www.sharonrivkin.com.