Marriage, if it is going to last, is about more than just being in love. True love means that you are not just in love, but you are also friends.
Military couples have many added obstacles in marriage. Heck, sometimes it feels like the military is the third person, and three is a crowd! Strong marriages have strong foundations in friendship. Don’t worry, you do not have to like your spouse all the time (I have a husband who sometimes drives me crazy too), but a relationship should have a healthy friendship and this friendship needs to be tended to and nurtured over the years. This friendship will help you grow together over the years as a couple.
In building your relationship it is always important to remember that the only person that you can change is yourself; you should never focus on changing someone else. If you want to be better friends with your spouse, you need to start with you, and work on being a better friend to your spouse. Really, this is just the golden rule, “Do to others what you would want them to do to you.”
When I sat down to think about this article, I thought of my great long-lasting friendships and how they treat me, and in turn how I treat them. The relationships that exist between my friends and I are full of indicators of mutual trust, respect and affection. When I compared my relationship with my friends to my relationship with my spouse, I was a little embarrassed to admit that I am not always a stellar example of a best friend to my spouse, but it has also opened my eyes to see where I can keep working to improve and grow our friendship as well.
1. Enjoy your spouse for who they are.
2. Discover and foster mutual interests. Best friends find things they both like to do and continue to develop those mutual interests.
3. Prioritize your spouse.
4. Spend quality time with your spouse.
5. Remind your spouse of their best qualities, especially when they feel vulnerable.
6. Criticize (without being critical). Best friends challenge you to be the best person you can be.
7. Listen, don’t judge. Our friends want to know first and foremost that we understand them.
8. Give your spouse the benefit of the doubt.
9. Let it go a bit when your spouse is grumpy. We all have bad days and want our friends to give us wiggle room when we have them.
10. Take notice of your spouse’s favorites. If something is important to your spouse, recognize it, even if it is not important to you.
11. Don’t take advantage of your spouse’s weaknesses. Recognize that your spouse trusts you.
12. Only speak good things about your spouse, every time and to everyone.
13. Defend your spouse in front of others. If someone talks negatively of your spouse, defend them. That is what friends do.
14. Do things for your spouse. You do not need a reason and you should no expect anything in return.
15. Tell your spouse the truth. Sometimes you need to level with your friends in a kind, respectful way.
16. Discuss your hurt or anger with your spouse during disagreements without belittling them.
17. Share in your spouses happiness. It is always more fun to be happy together!
18. Celebrate in your spouses success. If your spouse has accomplished something (even a small something) congratulate and cheer.
19. Share your interests, your thoughts and opinions. It is important to show your spouse you are willing to trust him or her with your thoughts and opinions as well.
20. Communicate clearly. You should not expect your spouse to read your mind. Be clear when expressing your thoughts.
20. Keep your spouses secrets. Your spouse needs to trust that emotions and thoughts shared with you are for your ears only.
21. Accept your spouse’s silence. Respect that sometimes your spouse is not yet ready to talk about something and be patient.
22. Laugh with your spouse.
23. Treat your spouse as your equal. Friendships are a give and take that balances out over your friendship.
24. Support your spouse’s decisions. You may sometimes disagree but in the end do your best to support your spouse in their decision.
25. Be reliable for your spouse. Sometimes we may bail on our spouse because “they will understand”. You should also make every effort to come through with what you said you would do.
The next time you snap at your spouse, or half-listen to they story they are telling about work, ask yourself if this is how you would treat your best friend. Then, ask yourself: why your spouse deserves anything less?