MAN'S (AND WOMAN'S) BEST FRIEND

Do you remember how it was when you first met your spouse? Right now thousands of you are "inside" generating this experience. Perhaps you wore an inner smile that spread throughout your body as you enjoyed just being together, laughing, discovering and comparing experiences with each other. Soon, a shared reality developed about people, places and things, and you seemed to understand each other so well. Your relationship was becoming a friendship; a best friendship.
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 You wed. As the years pass, for many couples, factors develop that begin to undermine that once-close friendship. The demands and pressures on their time and energy can cause couples to drift into a lifestyle in which they slowly grow apart. As if they had unwittingly skated out on thin ice, only to realize they were a long way from shore. Both partners may be left feeling alone, unloved and "stuck"-- bewildered and unable to make changes. Each may begin to ask, "What am I doing here? This marriage is nothing more than an empty shell."
 
 The missing substance may be the original friendship that had developed. Is it not ironic that in the most important relationship of your life-- your marriage-- friendship is suddenly easily neglected and difficult to maintain. Many people simply forget the vital importance of being good friends with a spouse. At this point, its time for them to take a refresher course.
 
 "Friendship" is a way of describing the process of relating in which the parties involved make a continuous and consistent effort to acknowledge and support one another. In short, a friend is frequently in your thoughts in positive ways. Between spouses, it is surprisingly easy to drift apart emotionally. Given inadvertent changes in priorities and hectic lifestyles, your daily focus may narrow to required tasks, thereby deleting special efforts to stay close with your spouse. To counter this chain of events, communicate in positive ways with your spouse; let that person know you care. There are many ways to rekindle a best-friendship.
 
·        1- Stop and smell the roses-- notice each other! Compliments, inquiries about the day's activities, small talk that goes beyond job and parenting can enhance that friendship, or perhaps an interesting story you might have heard during the course of your day will do the same. Perhaps review a fond experience from your past interactions together.
·        2- Touch and go-- Take a few moments every day to coordinate schedules and activities. This form of communicating helps clarify matters for families with busy lifestyles. Discuss- ions about who has to be where, when and how this will be accomplished is a form of preventive medicine in a relationship that can obviate potential conflicts and frustrations.
·        3- Keep one eye on the "future"-- Effective communicating doesn't just happen; it needs to be cultivated like any other useful behavior. Water the behavior you wish to grow. Create new and stimulating experiences that affect some aspect of your relationship in the future. Where do you want to "go?" How do you want to get there? What needs to be accomplished first? Next? An important consideration of relating about your future is the powerful presupposition that is implied: You will be together in the future! This simple point often spans a marital friendship across the cold, dangerous waters of neglect and uncertainty.
·        4- Be a foundation of support for one another-- Make yourself available to listen during difficult times. Be there as a source of comfort. This does not necessarily mean have a pat solution or word of advice handy; just listen and be attentive. This conveys support. So does touching, hugging and other forms of closeness. Additionally, performing tasks that the other would normally do; or providing a special treat are other ways to say you care during troubled times.
·        5- Acknowledge, acknowledge, acknowledge-- Positive validation of each other often becomes scarce as a marriage progresses in years. As stresses develop, it frequently becomes easier to express negative, than positive feelings. Couples become cautious and restrict the range and frequency of their communications. Precisely why it is important to practice acknowledging your partner as a way of reconnecting with, perhaps, an original assumption of your relationship: "I love you, and being with you makes me feel good." Greet, compliment, or touch your partner when you arrive home. Flirt. A great way to validate the thought of being best friends.