Let’s Be Friends
But what if we said those words after we got married?
What if we tried to really develop a friendship with our spouse?
What impact would it have on our marital satisfaction?
The following story about the necessity of friendship is told in the book, “The Most Important Year in a Man’s Life: What Every Groom Needs to Know”
“Scott and Monica fell in love in college. Scott had come from a long line of thoughtful and contemplative people. ‘No need for small talk’ was spot welded to his DNA. Monica was warm and outgoing. It didn’t take long after their wedding for those two qualities to meet nose to nose. In fact, Monica had a sinking feeling on their honeymoon. Scott’s emotionless two or three word answers to her questions gripped her with a strange sense of loneliness. Twenty five years and four children later Scott called his friend to announce ‘Monica is leaving me today.’”
The kids were graduated, so Monica decided to move to another city and take up with an old high school flame. A man who liked to talk to her. A man who, she thought, would be her friend. It wasn’t that Scott was an evil man. He just never talked to his wife. He didn’t pursue a friendship with Monica. The result: she pursued friendship elsewhere. Scott and Monica’s story is replayed in varying versions all across America.
Dr. John Gottman, University of Washington professor and marriage expert, has studied marriages for years. He has a “love lab” where he invites couples to live in a nicely furnished apartment outfitted with video cameras and microphones (except in the bedroom and bathroom!). What has Gottman learned? He claims he can predict the future success or failure of a marriage with 90% accuracy by identifying “marriage destroying and marriage protecting behaviors”. By far the most significant marriage protector is friendship.
“The determining factor in whether most wives feel satisfied in their marriage is the quality of the couple’s friendship. For most men, the determining factor is the same. So men and women come from the same planet after all….Friendship fuels the flames of romance because it offers the best protection against feeling adversarial toward your spouse.”
It sounds so simple it makes you wonder why people don’t work at building a friendship with their spouse. We know how to do it. We’ve all made friends before. Listen. Help out. Speak kindly. Have fun together. What a revolutionary idea. Try it this week. Work on building a friendship with your spouse!