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More PsychNotes: Relationships

April 5, 2017       
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The Essence of a Good Marriage: Friendship
by Monica A. Frank, PhD

If there is such a thing as a good marriage, it is because it resembles friendship rather than love. Michel de Montaigne
The sweetest thing my husband ever said to me is that I am his best friend. It seems that the best, and most enduring, marriages have friendship as a foundation. Although passion is also an important part of the relationship, passion without friendship doesn't seem to last.

If you think about the nature of best friendship, it makes sense that a marriage based on these qualities is one that withstands hardships and delights in the good times.

Qualities of best friendship

1) Mutual respect. Good friends have a strong desire to maintain the relationship which is based upon respect for one another. Friends admire the other without jealousy or pettiness.

2) Cooperative. Best friends make decisions together about the direction of the friendship--one person is not in charge of the relationship. Friends don't try to control one another. Sure, they may not have to make the kind of life decisions required of a married couple, but good marriages have this same quality.

3) Enjoyment. Best friends have common interests and enjoy pursuing those activities with one another. They also develop new interests through the willingness to explore their friend's passions.

3) Communication. Friends need to communicate well for a lasting relationship. If something the other does is bothersome, they talk about it to solve the problem.

4) Sharing. Good friends tell one another the deepest personal feelings without fear of rejection. The friendship is a safe place without criticism or ridicule.

5) Support. Within a friendship each person is strengthened by the other and wants the best for the other even if it is not what is best for themselves. Each can count on the other to be there in times of crisis.

6) Independent. Best friends pursue their lives without dependency on the other. Their lives intertwine and they may rely on one another at times but they have separate lives as well.

7) Unconditional love. Good friends don't try to make one another into what they want. Friends admire the uniqueness of one another and love the other for who they are.

Cultivate a best friendship with your partner.

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