• National Best Friends Day June 8th

    3 ways to be your partner’s best friend

    Best Friend is a title we’d all like to have. BFF. Ace. Buttercup. Dude. Even “The Bee’s Knees”. What if you knew you held this place of honor in the heart of your spouse or partner? Here’s 3 things you can do today to earn the title “Best Friend”.

    First, let me tell you how I know these tips will work. The following 3 principles are based on research done in the “Love Lab”. Yes. That’s right. After four decades measuring and cataloging the behaviors and attitudes of happy couples, marriage experts Drs. John & Julie Gottman tell us that being good friends is the foundation for satisfying relationships. And a good friendship boils down to 3 main principles:

    Principle #1 – Best Friends know each other well.

    Called building Love Maps, Gottman research tells us that couples who enjoy each other over a lifetime are students of themselves and their partner. In other words, they can explain their preferences and those of their partners and celebrate their individual likes and dislikes –  Sweet or unsweet tea, with ice or without? Favorite movie, color, way to spend a rainy afternoon. Being known and knowing someone helps people feel loved. When you genuinely want to know your spouse’s likes and dislikes, hopes and dreams, and explore the “why” behind the “what”, it builds connection and closeness and moves you closer to the BFF title.

    Principle #2 – Best Friends express fondness and admiration for each other.

    Knowing things about each other is a start. The next step is to gauge how you feel and talk about the things you know. Describing someone as “fun-loving and the life-of-the-party” has a very different tone than “loud and obnoxious”. The 5:1 ratio of positive, affirming words to negative comments goes a long way to increasing the chances your partner will consider you a good friend, want to spend time with you, and share intimate moments together.

    “Although happily married couples may feel driven to distraction at times by their partner’s personality flaws, they still feel that the person they married is worthy of honor and respect. They cherish each other.”

    -Dr. John Gottman, PhD., The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work

    Principle #3 – Best Friends Turn Towards Each Other Instead of Away

    Small invitations to connect with your friends are made every day. An invite to coffee, a text of encouragement about an interview coming up, a handshake – all of these are bids to express affection or concern. Begin noticing when your partner invites you to a conversation or a moment of closeness and acknowledge it.  Engaging phrases like, “that’s nice” or “that does sound interesting” go a long way in building a close friendship.  See each encounter as an opportunity to tune in, respond, and accept the invitation. These small acts build intimacy over time. It does require good listening skills, and a genuine interest in what your partner is saying. So, if you find you’re not listening, take responsibility. The biggest enemy to friendship is taking one another for granted. Friends don’t ignore friends – so offer the gift of attention and watch friendship grow.

    “Couples often ignore each other’s emotional needs out of mindlessness, not malice.”

    -Dr. John Gottman, PhD., The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work

    Wondering if it’s too late for you?

    Be aware of obstacles that get in the way of friendship. Sometimes hurt feelings and failed tries at being friends build up anger and resentment. You’ve seen it happen in other friendships so don’t be surprised if it is happening in your marriage. What can you do about it?

    Read between the lines and look for bids hidden in the anger or negativity. Own the truth of the complaint or negative statement, apologize, and be grateful for the opportunity to address it. A change in the pattern has to start somewhere. Be the change you want to see in your relationship. It’ll make you a better partner – and a better person.

    Plan time to check in with each other and connect face-to-face. Lay down electronics and turn off the TV for just 5-10 minutes a day to emotionally connect. Praise and encouragement add value to any relationship so use this time to be appreciative and point out the things you love about your BFF.

    Friendship can be rekindled with one act of random kindness.

    Remember, it’s never too late to give it one more try.

    Good luck in rebuilding your friendship! Give me a call at 850.450.7223 or schedule an appointment by clicking here.

    Dianne Presley, LCSW, BC-TMH
    Believe, Hope, Inspire Wellness Services LLC
    Anxiety, Depression, Loss and Relationship Therapy
    Gottman Level 1 and Level 2 Training in Couples Method Therapist
    Gottman Training in Traumas and Affairs and in Couples in Addiction
    Gottman Educator in 7 Principles for Making Marriage Work and Bringing Baby Home
    Certified Brain Based Success Coach