Instead of romance for Valentine’s Day this year, think friendship
By Emily Bouchard
With Valentine’s Day bringing thoughts of romance and intimacy into the minds of many people, I thought it would be nice to offer the best way to rekindle affection in a relationship that may need some re-igniting. The key to bringing joy back into your relationship is simple, yet profound. Having a strong friendship will make all the difference in your marriage. That’s it.
How do you cultivate a friendship between the two of you in a regular and meaningful way? By treating each other truly as valued, respected and admired friends.
Due to patterns and beliefs about marriage and commitment, we often treat out spouses worse than anyone else in our lives. The irony is that once you establish a firm commitment with your life partner, there is a safety to treat each other disrespectfully, rudely, and to take each other for granted in a way you just never would with a dear friend.
The beauty of applying the principle of friendship in your relationship is that you can start any time, and you can determine from day to day how you want to treat each other. This is something you have complete control over, and something that starts with you, from your heart – without attachment to how the other person responds. Typically, when a person is treated with respect, honor, and admiration, they tend to want to reciprocate and naturally do so. If they do not, then you need to seriously look at what past hurts and resentments they are holding onto in order to protect themselves and keep themselves from getting wounded again. It may take some time for the trust to return, especially if there have been years of criticism and contempt between the two of you. Choosing to treat each other as friends is a great place to start healing those wounds of the past.
For more information on ways to cultivate friendship in your marriage, I highly recommend the book: The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work by John Gottman and Nan Silver.
(Author: Emily Bouchard, MSSW, author of Conquering Conflict and StepHeroes, a newsletter serving over 2,600 stepfamilies at www.blended-families.com )