Deep Friendship and Romance
THE JOY OF BEING IN LOVE: The highest achievement in a relationship is becoming romantic best friends. Many of us felt the joys of being romantic best friends when we first fell in love with our partner. Each of us has our own taste, our own special flavor of joy.
SHARED EXPERIENCES: The most thrilling experiences when we get to know each other usually include both friendship and romance. You may have shared philosophy, adventures, sexual pleasure, work, hobbies, service, spirituality, family, lifestyle, etc.
FRIENDS SHARE EQUALLY: Friends are peers – the give-and-take is on the same level otherwise it becomes a helping or controlling relationship. As we grow, our group of friends often evolves. We leave some behind to travel their own path and we encounter different friends as our work and interests mature. Our spouse is our best friend and peer.
DEFENSIVENESS: Relationships can lose friendship when there is inequity, disparity of interests, dishonesty, emotional immaturity, conflicting values, etc. Then they are at odds, even enemies, and become defensive rather than on the same team. Honesty, forgiveness, gratitude and fun can make up for most such troubles.
Our legal system, our educational institutions, and many of our workplaces have embraced the ideal of equity between men and women. Now our couples are seeking peer marriages.
The two basic requirements for mutual value in marriage are: 1) Deep Friendship, and 2) Romance.
Seven Interactional Elements of Deep Friendship
Deep friendship is demanding, loyal, and intimate. The two know each other very well, they keep lines of communication open and they are fair and reciprocal with one another.
One of my favorite descriptions of the elements of deep friendship came from researcher and author, Pepper Schwartz.
1. Understanding with Tolerance & Respect
Understand their spouse’s preferences. Differences are manageable because of mutual respect. Share vulnerabilities without fear that it will be revealed or used against them.
2. Shared Worlds
Interest in each other’s day to share experiences. Share work or business. Share excitement and pleasure such as hobbies.
3. The Ability to Negotiate Differences
Commitment to always work it out, especially in an argument. Don’t pull rank, shut each other out, get derisive, presume to have more than fair share of time.
4. The Ability to Be Private & Separate
No pressure to be exactly alike. Collaboration requires privacy as well as public sharing. Take turns giving advice, thinking of things to do, being the strong or the faltering one.
5. Reconceptualizing Affection
Styles of Love Languages: Type, Tending, Time, Touch, Tasks, Talk and Tokens.
Mutual excellence. Each good person makes the other person look better and feel stronger. Division of labor is on ability and desire rather than on authority and tradition. Requires honesty.
Similar pleasures shared such as gardening, cooking, hiking, etc. But also with others…socially and with friends.
After Pepper Scwhartz in Peer Marriage
Ways We Enrich Our Friendship
“It is not a lack of love, but a lack of friendship that makes unhappy marriages.”
THE FRIENDSHIP BOND: In a marriage, we can remain peers provided we both have interest in more…in growing, learning and exploring through the years. This ongoing newness creates a continuous source for sharing and communicating something different. Best friends tell each other most anything and they always have something new to share. Friendship develops through mutual interests, admiration and empathy. Some couples begin their bond through: traveling together; sacrificing and supporting each other through the lean years; the excitement of helping their kids achieve in school, sports or arts; creating a summer home; working together in public service; learning a foreign language; cooking together; creating beauty in their garden, etc.
- Ways I’d like to expand our life together:
- What we need in order to share and communicate in better ways:
- Mutual interests we can cultivate together:
- How I can be more empathetic and supportive with my spouse: