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How To Nurture Friendship With Your Spouse

Is your spouse your best friend? If you’re hesitant to say yes, that’s okay. It’s natural to think of your spouse, as well, your spouse. Your “best friend” might be that lifelong childhood buddy or your roommate from freshman year of college. It’s healthy to have good friendships outside your marriage. But did you know research shows that couples who share a deep friendship are often happier in their relationship? Dr. John Gottman considers friendship the foundation of a strong marriage, and it makes sense. With friendship comes a mutual respect, care and affection for each other. Although physical intimacy is an important part of marriage, there are times and circumstances when it will be lower priority. A strong friendship will help you stay emotionally connected to each other and committed to your relationship. Here’s how you can nurture friendship with your spouse: 1. Stay curious. Think about when you connect with a friend. You usually ask them questions about their life, whether it’s catching up on the big stuff or getting updated on day-to-day happenings. You’re interested in their thoughts and opinions. Maintain this same sense of curiosity with your spouse. Sure, you probably see your spouse more often, but that doesn’t mean you always know everything about their inner world. So ask questions. Be eager to learn more. What did they think of that movie? How’s it going with their new manager at work? What made them choose Hawaiian pizza over their usual pepperoni? Asking them questions shows you actually care about and like them as a person, not just as your spouse. This might sound like a given, but sometimes we take it for granted in how we treat each other. 2. Be a good listener. There are some situations where we might very well treat our friends with more courtesy than our spouse, and listening might be one of them. Because we’re around our spouse so often, it’s easy to fall into bad listening habits – not giving your full attention, pretending to hear what they said, or sometimes not even acknowledging they’ve spoken. However, you probably don’t do this with your friends – it would come across kind of rude, right? Put in that same effort with your spouse. They deserve it! No, you won’t be perfect, and that’s okay. But feeling heard and listened to is fundamental to friendship, and any good relationship, really. 3. Have fun together. There’s a lot about being an adult that isn’t necessarily “fun.” Bills, chores, work, and household logistics can seem to take over your life. It’s natural to let fun slip lower on the priority list, but don’t let it! Friends have fun together, and keeping a playful aspect to your relationship not only nurtures your friendship, but also can be a protective factor during stressful or tense times. Remember, fun doesn’t have to be an entire day at the amusement park; you can have fun together while doing all the mundane things. Be goofy, make cheesy jokes, laugh too hard at said jokes. If you’re always having a good time together and genuinely enjoy each other’s company, your friendship will flourish. 4. Have each other’s back. This is a core component of a strong friendship – being supportive and looking out for each other. Sometimes with our spouse it’s easy (or fun) to be contrarian – maybe you often see things differently or that’s just your dynamic. But there are times when they might really want or need you to back them up and be on their side, and vice versa. Maybe it’s a disagreement you’re having with your parents, or perhaps they’ve been treated unfairly at work. Whatever the case, being on the same team is a friendship necessity. Cultivating a deep friendship with your spouse strengthens your relationship in many ways. While it’s not a requirement that you call each other “best friend,” and it’s great and healthy to have close friendships outside of your spouse, the friendship you nurture with each other is a valuable one. How do you nurture friendship with your spouse? ~Prepare Enrich Facilitators~

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