There are so many opinions floating around advising you on how to keep your relationship solid as well as lasting. We could look at any one of them and find value and take the useful hints they offer. Yet, all the how-to ideas seem to miss finding the real key. We can tell this because couples remain on the search. They are looking for the part that is foundational to creating strength and joy, love and resilience. And, that means containing and maintaining the quality of friendship.
Equally, this essential piece of a relationship seems to often get ignored or not cherished for the value and importance it represents.
A friend is someone you trust. You do not take that person for granted. You can be yourself with him or her. Walls come down. Defenses are not needed. You feel free to be honest, expressive and creative. A friend is someone you will tell the truth to. You want them to know you as well. The bridge of communication is daily crossed and gets clearer and clearer. You let a friend into the innermost recesses of your heart. You feel calm, without anxiety or false presence. You are able to bring out your best self because you are being completely real. The friendship holds and changes over time. Each person can grow, develop and become all they are.
Quite importantly, you have each others back. This means you each keep the other in your mind. You connect during the day by calling, texting, e-mailing. You make a date for lunch, you bring home something you know would be liked or special to your partner. You treat your partner as you want to be treated. You are tender and loving to yourself and to your partner.
Mutual consideration, kindness and tenderness reign. This does not mean avoiding harshness, anger or messy emotions. Rather, it means a fuller expression of each partner’s personality. A friendship does require couching words consciously and with thoughtful reflection and aimed for understanding of the difficulties and growth from listening to each other. This is sharing ideas rather than jumping down each others throat.
And, you both consciously remain aware of being committed to keeping alive the friendship. Come what may, you will do what you can to be there and be present. The commitment means both people develop. The foundation of the relationship maintains and is shaped by the friendship you both determine to nourish.
Susan E. Schwartz, Ph.D.