Research shows that couples interested in keeping their love alive for a lifetime need to place top priority on keeping their friendship strong. One California based study even found that nearly two-thirds of couples divorcing stated that it wasn’t intense fighting, but the gradual growing apart which was the main cause of divorce.
Maintaining a strong friendship also helps couples manage their differences. Like it or not, we naturally treat our friends better than our enemies. Therefore, when couples keep their friendship strong it not only benefits them in times of peace, but also in times of conflict.
After studying the research myself and watching happy couples keep their friendship alive, I’ve learned that many do so by remembering to K.I.S.S.
“K” stands for knowledge. The base of a successful relationship is a strong friendship, and the base of a strong friendship is knowledge. After all, wouldn’t you say that your best friends are the ones that know you best? Certainly we can lust over someone whom we have very little knowledge about, but true love must involve knowing the other person.
Happy couples have habits that allow them to constantly stay updated about each other’s lives. For some that ritual will be chatting in bed every night, and for others it will be morning coffee together. Either way, happy couples realize that they must keep up to date on the latest happenings to help keep their friendship strong.
From the big meeting that’s coming up to hopes about next weekend, happy couples are often found “small chatting” about the little events of life. Turns out this “small chat” is not small at all in its importance of keeping the friendship strong.
“I” stands for invest. While I’m not a stock market pro, I understand that if you invest little you get little back. This is a lesson not only for the stock market, but for relationships, too.
I’m often saddened at the number of relationships I work with that simply die of neglect over time. There was no intent to “fall out of love” and certainly no malicious objective, but simply the neglect of the relationship over time that led to loneliness and distance.
By actively planning, happy couples make sure they invest in their relationship to keep it strong. Whether that’s planning their next trip together, planning dinner tonight, or planning for this weekend, they make sure to schedule time to keep love alive.
I’m reminded of a meeting where Stephen Covey, international executive and author, was presenting. He talked at length with the group about the necessity of good planning to help keep their business successful, to which they all agreed, of course.
He then asked about their plans to help keep their family relationships strong. Upon finding very little planning in this area, he commented that it was no surprise then that so many families were falling apart. Just like businesses need a plan to stay strong, so do friendships.
“S” stands for speaking kindly. I’m discouraged how often I hear a spouse speak poorly of their partner. We all have our differences and some of those are bound to annoy us, but that doesn’t give us the right to degrade our partner to others.
I was once advised to treat my spouse like a queen, and such advice has reminded me to never speak ill of her to others. Granted, we will still have our differences, but those differences can be appropriately discussed between the two of us, not between me and the boys in reference to “the old ball-and-chain at home” or in a group of people with my spouse present.
“S” stands for a comment made to me by a female client: “Small things make a big difference.” Backed up by research on happy couples, she is 100 percent correct.
When studying happy couples, research shows they do many small things for one another and they do them regularly. Small things such as opening the door for one another, kissing each other before parting ways, or calling just to say hi are things I consistently see on lists that happy couples make about why they still like one another.
Keeping your couple friendship strong in a busy world is no easy task. However, for those who really want to remain together until death do they part, it is a crucial task that can be made easier by remembering to always K.I.S.S.
So, however, you spend the rest of your weekend, don’t forget to K.I.S.S.
Remember, couple relationships are easier than you think, but harder than you act.
Mark Anderson is a mental health therapist specializing in couples therapy. He is in private practice in Scottsbluff at Oregon Trail Mental Health and can be reached at 635-2800 or online at www.panhandlecouples.com.
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