As our thousands of interviews with happily married couples throughout the world reveal, no relationship has ever passed the test of time without also being a friendship. Couples in longtime successful marriages always view their spouse as their best friend. They trust each other with their lives, their entire well-being and their sacred honor.
One of the questions in our interview protocol is "Who is your best friend?" We got our first telling response to the question in Rio de Janeiro. After asking the so-called "Best Couple in Rio," we got answers that drove this point home for us. When we asked the most prominent physician in the city who his best friend was, he named 10 people — and none of them were his wife of 37 years! When we asked his wife who her best friend was, she also gave 10 names and, like him, the list did not include her husband. They both told us how important their circles of friends were, never mentioning each other in those comments.
Here's another good example of our point. When we interviewed a couple in Sydney, Australia, a few years ago, we asked the same question: "Who is your best friend?" To our surprise, both people in this loving relationship did not consider each other their best friend. We probed, but neither would admit that their spouse was even one of their best friends.
The simple truth of the matter is this: these two couples professed to "love" each other, but they did not "like" each other. They were clearly not best friends. In fact, when we asked clarifying questions, it became quite clear that neither couple had a friendship within their relationships. Keep reading...
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