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Happy Together

January 18, 2012 | by Slovie Jungreis-Wolff

5 ways to bring friendship back into marriage.

Ashton Kutscher tweeted: “Marriage is one of the most difficult things in the world and unfortunately sometimes they fail. Love and light, AK “.

Ouch. Is a failed marriage that simple?

I recently read an article on Yahoo: ‘5 Ways to Know Your Relationship Is Over’. It spoke about couples who enjoy socializing with others instead of each other, spouses who seem disinterested in each other’s lives, and husbands and wives who have stopped communicating.

Why wait for our relationship to nosedive? Who wants to wake up one day and realize that their marriage is in trouble? Too often we live in dull, lackluster marriages and just try to make the best of it. It’s like living with a chronic condition that wears you down with nagging aches and pains.

It is crucial for each person to have a partner in life with whom we can grow. One who can share hopes and fears. A companion who will encourage us, strengthen us and enable us to get through life’s darkest moments. Isn’t this the definition of a true friend?

Who should this person be if not your spouse? Let us try to bring friendship back into our marriages and move away from having a working relationship where we just speak about problems, bills, and what to do with the kids.

1. Accept Your Soul mate

We destroy our relationship when we keep on imagining how much better things would be ‘if only.’ ‘If only I would’ve married my college sweetheart’, ‘If only I would’ve ended up with someone more attractive’, ‘If only I would’ve said yes to that successful doctor’. This type of thinking does not allow us to see our spouse as our best friend. Instead we keep envisioning how life would be better with someone else. How can we possibly feel fulfilled if we think we’ve made the biggest mistake of our lives?

Let’s stop thinking that we’d be happier spending our lives with another person and start concentrating on how we could make our days complete with our soul mate.

2. Keep the Spark Alive

A common Jewish blessing for a newly married couple is that they ‘build a true home within our people’. A home must be built to endure. Good marriages don’t just happen. It takes sweat, pain and perseverance. Relationships require hard work and effort. Friendship in marriage means that we are loyal to each other. We don’t knock dreams or fears. We believe in one another.

It becomes easy to lose the spark with the daily pressures of life. We stop trying. We forget to make an effort and slowly let ourselves go. We don’t go out often. We walk around our home in torn sweats and dirty t-shirts. We don’t have dinner together. We begin taking each other for granted.

We would not treat a special friend this way, so why would we care less for our spouse?

Related Article: 5 Ways to Keep Your Love Alive

3. A Kindness a Day

What was the last nice thing you did for your partner? We are there for our kids, running around trying to find the latest and most popular gadget that they want. If one of our children requests a special snack or meal, we make it happen. What about doing something special for our spouse? A day should not pass without giving from our hearts to let our spouse know that we care.

This includes little favors or even a compliment and encouraging word. And it does not require money. A husband I know recently gave his wife a birthday present she will forever remember. He took all three children for the entire day, (baby and diapers included), and told his wife to take the day off.

A hot cappuccino, a sweet text that says ‘I love you’ are just two little examples that fill a person with a sense of being cared for and cherished. I can still recall my father preparing the morning paper for my mother each day. If there was anything that he knew my mother would find interesting or important, he would underline it in black magic marker. Next to the paper would be a cut up grapefruit set on a dish.

These little acts of kindness fill a home with love.

4. Be a Peacemaker

True friends never hold onto anger. When we latch onto hurts and conflicts from yesterday we are unable to live peacefully today. We must learn to let go. When there are little arguments and bickering almost every day, our relationship curdles like spoiled milk. That which we once found nourishing and delicious now turns our stomachs.

Of course it is not easy to be a peacemaker. How can we work on being a less argumentative partner?

Act. Don’t react.

Never speak in anger.

Stop talking. Stop defending yourself. Start listening and digest your partner’s words.

Seek out compromise instead of confrontation.

Try not to get into silly arguments

Remember, there are no winners when there is fighting in a home.

5. Protect Your Privacy

We have become used to spilling our lives out for all to see on Facebook. Never expose your private life or the intimacy of your relationship for others to digest and dissect. Your marriage is considered holy. Your relationship is to be guarded like a precious diamond. Taking your marriage public degrades the sanctity and commitment that bonds husband and wife.

Think about the feelings of a newly married wife whose husband wrote on his Facebook page:

“First fight. Marriage is not what I expected”

Or the husband who read his wife’s Facebook page: ‘I think I am simply falling out of love with my husband. He is a great guy, I guess I may still love him but he can act like such a child. I feel terrible because he still loves me but I am thinking of getting out before it is too late. ‘

Can one ever repair the damage done? Perhaps in a moment of anger or confrontation you felt as if ‘it’s over’ but then the confrontation passes and feelings ease. Now what?

Marriage is too precious to easily dismiss with a twitter message. If we are fortunate enough to have found our life partner, stay focused on creating and building a haven together.

Encourage each other, strengthen one another, grow together and climb the mountains of life. Build a friendship that grows stronger through the years. You’ll discover the secret to making your marriage last.

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