Being in love is easy. It's emotion that has transcended the millennia. It's an emotion that's central to the best marriages and relationships. But being in love is not enough.
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.
Make no mistake about it: Loving someone is not enough. If your partner is not your best friend, your relationship will not pass the test of time. Your relationship can never be judged as a great success. There is no equivocation when it comes to this point. Best friends provide each other with total trust, loyalty, mutual respect, admiration, encouragement, support, care and much more.
If the one you love is not your best friend, your relationship might be in serious trouble and, in all likelihood, will not become one of the lifelong love stories we have heard around the world on.
So, with that in mind, we will ask you what we have asked every couple we have interviewed across the continents: is the one you purport to love really your best friend? If not, you need to focus on building the friendship elements of your relationship — or consider finding another partner if you want your love to last for a lifetime.
Love well! And more importantly, like well!
Creating a successful marriage is not always the easiest thing to do. Your reading our article suggests you are highly interested in making your marriage work! And truthfully, we have learned over 30 years of marriage research that there are proven, effective ways to ensure a happy and healthy marriage. In fact, we took hundreds of tips from the thousands of happy couples we interviewed throughout the world and put them into our award-winning and bestselling book, Building a Love that Lasts.
Today, you can see how you stack up to the best marriages around the world. Take the Marriage Quiz to assess your chances of achieving a successful marriage of your own.
Drs. Charles and Elizabeth Schmitz: America's #1 Love and Marriage Experts