It is no secret that I am a huge Dr. Phil fan. It is a part of my daily routine that I watch the show. I think the major things I enjoy are his blunt reactions and how much they help guests after the cameras are off (they have the largest resource budget in television history to help those with addiction, psychological, and physical health concerns). But my all time favorite thing is the little tidbits of wisdom that comes when I least expect it. It will be a sentence that gives me fresh perspective and puts into words what I couldn’t before. 

The other day was no exception. I had to repeat this part at least five times to make sure I fully understood what was being said:

“I have found the formula for a successful relationship and the formula is this: the quality of the relationship is a function of the extent to which it is first based on a solid underlying friendship but then it’s a quality of the extend to which it meets the needs of the two people involved. That means you have to figure out what his needs are and you have to make an effort to meet those needs to the extent that is healthy.”

So he is saying that friendship is the glue. It is friendship that helps keep relationships and marriages alive. Friendship keeps the spark and intimacy present. Most importantly, friendship allows me to learn my husband’s needs and once I know his needs then I can try as hard as I can to meet them!
So how do we cultivate friendship to the one we choose to walk through life with? We do it purposefully. It is when I put my attention on too many externals that I forget I have to actively and intentionally grow my friendship with him.  

I turned to friends who have great marriages and I asked them how they keep friendship alive while life runs at high speed! How they keep their friendship even through kids, work, and distance: 

1. “Sex” – nothing is as bonding as sexy time with your husband to stay connected.

2. “Taking the time to do things together that we both enjoy and trying out new things as well. We play video and arcade games and take time to explore new places”

3. “I make an effort to know what’s going on in his world and ask him about how it went after. We are ridiculously silly together – laughing at each other – I try to help him out when he’s stressed and admire him as much as I can.”

4. “I always think about the quote ‘never sacrifice what matters the most for what matters the least’ and I try to make sure he feels valued with what I say”

5. “We aren’t afraid to have fun and make a mess. We love having random food fights or water wars. Sometimes you just gotta bring out your inner kid. But some of our best memories are of us being completely ridiculous. Laughter is one of the best ways to bond I think. We never want to get old and boring.”

6. “Take interest in what they’re interested in. It’s not about being an overnight sports fanatic if that’s not your thing, or morphing into a gamer babe to appease him, rather finding out why that particular hobbie or interest means so much to him and get involved from time to time. For example, while I like sports, basketball isn’t my favorite, but I was happy to go to a game with my husband last spring. He recently thanked me for that time because it meant a lot for him to have me by his side even if I would have chosen something different for the evening. The little compromise is worth the investment.”

7. “My husband and I do things that we love that bring us closer together…we love being outdoors, so we switch off: he likes bicycling, I like running, so we do both together and go hiking, too. We also have realized the importance of when we need to say no to going to events and things with other people and identified when the two of us really need to reconnect and just have some one on one time.”

8. “The biggest thing is that we celebrate each other’s achievements and encourage each other’s interests. Even when him or I don’t necessarily like doing the same things all the time for fun or creativity, we are each other’s biggest fans and cheerleaders! I can honestly say he is my best friend because of the way he takes interest and supports me in my dreams!”

9. “The biggest thing for the both of us is respect. Respect and support. We always make an effort to respect and support each other especially when it comes to our interests and passions. Also to have realistic expectations. Knowing and being understanding of mistakes and helping to better each other through those mistakes/lessons.”

10. “One big thing my husband and I do is try to make sure we have a balance of what each other enjoy. We are polar opposites in pretty much every way so while I love going to the beach he doesn’t. He loves watching football and I’m squirmy after ten minutes. It’s important for us to find things we both enjoy as well as being willing to do what the other one enjoys.”

I loved all of these women’s responses! What I noticed was they are all different but all have the underlying theme of effort. I love that every couple is different so the best thing we can do is sit down with our partner and brainstorm how to keep the friendship alive so you can meet each other’s needs! Happy planning!

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