It all started with a glance. A single look across the room, and we knew. We were destined to be together.
That fateful night, we found true love.
Well . . . maybe that’s how it happened for you. But my love story is certainly not the epitome of romance. My husband and I were friends for a long time before any of the romantic developments.
While I’m not a hopeless romantic, I’ll admit: a part of me always yearned for a man to pour out his heart to me, sweep my off my feet, and take me away to happily ever after. Hollywood filled my head and heart with ideas of what it meant to really fall in love.
But is falling in love really what leads to the happily ever after?
As nice as it is to fall in love, real life romance takes a little more than a single glance.
In fact, if you focus on “falling” in love, you may neglect the most important aspects of building up a loving, healthy relationship.
According to marriage researcher Dr. John Gottman, it is deep friendship that provides the foundation for a happy marriage — as well as the key to satisfying sex.
Now that’s not a message we hear from Hollywood!
Looks like German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche got it right when he said, “It is not a lack of love, but a lack of friendship that makes unhappy marriages.”
Great. So happily ever after means we need to be friends. But how do we do that?
1. Take time to talk together
With hectic schedules and never-ending to-do lists, it can be hard to find the time to really talk with your spouse. How many days have your conversations consisted of what to make for dinner or who will pick up the kids from soccer practice?
While it may not be easy, Dr. Gottman’s research shows us the importance of connecting emotionally through conversation. He suggests spending 20 to 30 minutes a day in meaningful, stress-reducing talk. Whether that’s supporting your husband with his work problems or validating your wife’s difficult day with the kids, taking time to talk is vital to building friendship and creating your happily ever after.
2. Take time to laugh together
One of my favorite things about my husband is his utterly hilarious sense of humor. When life gets stressful, it feels so good to take a step back and just laugh with each other. Sharing humor with him makes me feel like I have a friend to rely on in even the hardest times.
I’ve always thought that laughing together brought us closer as a couple. But then I read an interesting study which found that more shared laughter actually indicates a healthier relationship! So don’t be afraid to have a good laugh with the one you love. Odds are, you’ll become even better friends — and lovers — because of it.
3. Take time to share a hobby together
As a kid, my mom would set up “play dates” for me. My friends and I would play board games, dress up dolls, or make believe together. Whatever it was, we had fun and grew closer just by doing something together.
It turns out that friendship isn’t that different as an adult (although I hope your parents don’t have to set up “play dates” for you and your spouse). Enjoying an activity together can become a ritual of connection, which Dr. William Doherty says is key to sticking together. My husband and I love to cook together, have jam sessions, or read a book together. It doesn’t matter so much what the activity is, so long as you find something you can enjoy with your spouse! Sharing something you both enjoy can help increase your friendship even more.
Hollywood Romance, or Friends Forever?
While being BFFs may not seem as romantic, it turns out that friendship is key to developing emotional and physical connection with your spouse. So instead of worrying about a romantic Hollywood love life, take the time to talk, laugh, and live with your spouse. Friendship very well may be the key to your happy ending.