Some of you fell in love at first sight. Love that develops spontaneously is the kind of thing we read about in books and see in the movies. It’s fast and furious, and feels terrific. It’s based in chemistry, sex appeal, and instant attraction, rather like in the Nancy Sinatra song: “We got married in a fever, hotter than a pepper sprout.”
When such couples first fall in love, there’s romance, mystery, and all the excitement of a joy ride. But after they drive the car down the road a bit, then the “shiny” wears off, and they begin to notice that their traveling companion has some flaws.
How will that relationship survive? They’ve got a real chance if in the next hundred miles, the couple starts learning how to be friends. The benefits of friendship are many, including unconditional love. What follows from being able to “let your hair down” is a relationship that allows you to be open about who you are and what you need.
Some 11 years ago my daughter married her best friend. They had built a relationship of “go-to” pals and confidants years before their first kiss was shared. Today their marriage is one based on all the qualities of friendship complemented by all the feelings of love. They now have 2 children and their friendship keeps growing. The song I picked for their wedding was “That’s What Friends Are For.”
Here’s how to develop a bond that lasts even after the shiny has worn off.
· Accept your partner’s weaknesses, and appreciate his or her strengths. Tell your partner that you value his or her companionship.
· Be understanding of your partner’s opinions, so that you can feel free to voice your own. And you could learn something new in the process.
· Be compassionate and kind. During the length of a marriage, you both will have times when you need to lean on each other.
Offer your partner a soft place to land when things are tough.
· Trust that your partner will try to do his or her best.
· Learn how to be able to disagree, but still maintain mutual respect. See differences as opportunities not obstacles.
· Practice listening without necessarily trying to fix everything for your partner. Sometimes what your partner needs is just a sympathetic ear.
Find out about what it is like to be in his or her world, even just for a few minutes.
· Focus on what you can give. It is surprising that you will get much too.
· Practice optimism and be mindful of the blessings you bring to each other.
· Have fun together and laugh often.
As you review the above list isn’t it encouraging to see those qualities in each other? What’s extraordinary about couples who are good friends, is that they also can make great love. That’s because honesty and acceptance can lead to feeling safe about being intimate and expressive.