5 Tips For a Happy Marriage

Or What’s Friendship Got To Do With It?

by Deborah Styler, MS, Resident MFT Therapist

5 Tips For Happy Marriage

As a kid I thought it was really embarrassing when my dad would tell the neighbors, “I don’t run for my life, I walk with my wife!” as he and my mom strolled along hand in hand on our family walks around the block in the evenings.  Little did I realize he was working on his marriage.  I don’t know that he even realized that at the time.  He and my mother were friends and that was comforting to me.

John Gottman, a marriage researcher and author, reports on the importance of friendship in a marriage.  It is the most important factor in helping couples to create lasting relationships.  Gottman’s research revealed five very important activities that helped strengthen couples’ friendship.  He called it the Magic Five Hours a Week.

Magic Five Hours a Week:
Parting: Learn one interesting thing about your spouse’s day
(2 min. X 5 days= 10 min.)
Reunions: Take 10 minutes each to talk about your day
(20 min. X 5 days= 1 hour 40 min.)
Admiration and Appreciation: Find some way each day to communicate appreciation towards your spouse.
(5 min. X 7 days = 35 minutes)
Affection: Kiss, hold, grab, look, smile, and touch each other
(5 min. X 7 days= 35 min.)
Weekly Date: Take two hours for a relaxing connection (watch a movie, take a walk, make dinner together, grocery shop, discuss issues, etc.)
Gottman 1999

Friends share what is going on in their lives: their fears, their struggles, their hopes and their joys.  They spend time together taking a genuine interest in one another.  Showing your friend you care and appreciate them goes a long way to strengthening that friendship.

Too often couples forget or don’t even realize that friendship is the foundation to a lasting relationship.  Friendship takes work and the benefits strengthen love and bring satisfaction and often contentment into the lives of the friends.  Friendship provides support when life gets rough.  Making up after a disagreement or misunderstanding can bring friends closer together.  Friendship takes time.

Gottman’s Magic Five Hours a Week is a good place to start if you find your marriage beginning to get a little stale or if you feel there are “communication” problems in your marriage.  Taking a renewed interest in getting to know one another and becoming best friends can breathe new life into a relationship that may be suffering from neglect or lack of zest.

I remember seeing my parents touch one another, kiss each other good-bye, and shut the bedroom door for a chat in the evening.  I was not so pleased when they left for the evening for their weekly date night as I had to babysit, but it kept them close to one another.  I smile in my remembrances as my husband helps me out of the car and takes my hand while we stroll into an antique mall.

What’s friendship got to do with it?  Everything!

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