The one person that you should know best in life is your spouse. In fact, research shows that knowing your partner well and maintaining a deep and trusting friendship, is foundational to your relationship happiness. Marriage and friendship are closely linked.
Your spouse is your life-partner and the friend whom you can turn to at the times you need them the most.
Marriage, of course, is a lifelong journey. That means that the process of learning about your partner never ends as you grow together through the years.
No matter where you are in your marriage—whether it’s year 1 or 51!—there is always the chance to more intimately know one another.
Consider these four key ways to accomplish just that.
1. Spend Time Together
There is absolutely no substitute for spending time with each other. When you are first married, you spend a lot of time together as a couple. As time goes on it’s easy to drift into separate lanes.
When that happens, you lose the intimacy you once had. This is more than physical intimacy; it’s the emotional and spiritual closeness that you share together.
To spend more time enhancing your marriage and friendship together, consider these ideas:
- Set aside 30 minutes each day to be together and catch up on each other’s day.
- Go for walks together. This is especially useful if you have a pet that needs a daily walk (or two!).
- Cook meals together.
- Play music or dance with each other.
- Spend a getaway day together where you go out and explore your community.
- Exercise as a couple.
- Pick up a new sport or hobby that you are both interested in.
Whether it’s a daily practice that takes a few minutes or getting away on vacation now and then, it’s important to spend time with each other and doing things together.
2. Have Meaningful Conversations
You and your partner probably spent a lot of time talking and getting to know each other when you first started dating. Most likely, these were the kind of conversations where you both lost track of the time. Everything else fell by the wayside as you were drawn into each other.
Don’t let that disappear once you’re married. Instead, continue to have meaningful and thoughtful discussions. Ask your partner what their hopes and dreams are. Show concern if they have a newfound fear.
Relationships evolve over time, and so do people. What was true for your partner when you were dating may have changed by now. Make sure that you are both still on the same page and know what is going on in each other’s worlds.
3. Truly Listen to Each Other
Listening has become something a lost art in our modern, busy, stressed-out world. Yet, it is such an important and key element for knowing each other intimately. How can you possibly know your partner if you don’t pay attention and listen?
Listening intently requires you to slow down and to focus your attention—not on yourself, but on your partner. Take in what they have to say and let it absorb into your mind and heart. Try to relate and connect with what they are feeling and experiencing.
Listen to understand your partner, not to give advice or fix a problem they are sharing with you. Validate the feelings and emotions they are sharing with you. Be curious about what is going on for them.
Listening also means paying attention to your partner’s nonverbal communication. If you can be attuned to both forms of communication, you will be much closer to knowing one another intimately.
4. Laugh Together
The fourth key to intimately knowing your partner is laughter and humor. When you laugh you are releasing endorphins, which affect your mood. You feel more relaxed, accepting, and present.
Imagine what happens when both of you are laughing together. You are both sharing a common experience that is positive, satisfying, and enjoyable. Let’s face it, laughing is just fun!
Knowing what makes your partner laugh can help when times get tough or you need to blow off steam. Sharing a laugh can truly help. Remember, it’s those little events that occur in your life that create a strong foundation for not just a friendship—but a marriage.
The key to a happy marriage and friendship is no big secret. Marriage and friendship are paired qualities that have stood the test of time.
Don’t allow the busy-ness and stress of everyday life to get in the way of having a strong marriage and friendship. It’s never too late to put these four key elements into action to create a stronger, more intimate, and consistently caring relationship.
Roy Faget, MA, is a marriage and family therapist associate and licensed professional counselor intern at the Relationship Counseling Center of Austin. Contact Roy if you and your partner are looking for assistance to revive friendship and intimacy in your relationship. He can be reached at 512-270-4883, ext. 109, or request an appointment with him on the RCC Austin Scheduling page.