Being "in love" isn't always enough to make a marriage last, but the closeness of friendship is.
It takes more than good sex to make a marriage work. Johnny Cash and June Carter had it right when they sang, "We got married in a fever, hotter than a pepper sprout. We've been talkin' 'bout Jackson, ever since the fire went out."
Here's the rub—being "in love" is easy. It's an emotion common to romantic relationships that transcend the millennia. Being in love is definitely central to the best, most successful marriages.
But being in love is NOT enough. No relationship has ever passed the test of time without friendship.
A recent study by Helliwell and Grover backs up this notion of "friendship" as extremely important to marriage. Helliwell and Grover state, "We find that well-being effects of marriage are about twice as large for those whose spouse is also their best friend."
Frankly, for over three decades, in our interviews with couples, we've heard—if you do not marry your best friend you are marrying the wrong person. So why is this principle true for all great marriages around the world?
Here are five reasons why partners in great marriages are also best friends:
1. It's a hard-knock life. Sharing the burdens of life challenges and providing each other steadfast support is what best friends do. They shoulder the burdens of their marriage on four shoulders, not just two. Having each other's back becomes such a matter of habit that best friends who marry behave like a winning team in everything they do.
2. You need a cheerleader. We all need encouragement to succeed in life. Best friends act as a cheerleader for each other. They support their spouse in every way, providing essential encouragement and that little extra bit of rah-rah-rah (a.k.a. "you can do it!") that helps make good things happen in life for BOTH of them.
3. Your well-being has an ally. Numerous research studies show that a positive relationship between a strong marriage leads to a longer life, with better physical health.
Married men and women have lower rates of serious illness and are less likely to die in hospitals than unmarried men or women. One study concluded that married men live an average of 10 years longer than unmarried men, and women live an average of 4 years longer than unmarried women.
What an incentive to find a mate for life who is your BFF and can provide you that kind of support (and who will make sure you go to that doctor's appoint you keep trying to put off).
4. Communication is open and honest. In the most successful marriages there are no sacred cows—no secrets. Research indicates that individuals in a healthy marriage feel they always have someone to confide in and to lean on in times of need. This support comes from open communication between best friends.
5. A super-sized portion of trust and loyalty. Couples who are also best friends literally trust each other completely, with their lives, their well-being, and their sacred honor. The words successfully married couples use most to describe the one they love include: trust, honesty, loyalty and truthfulness.
You see, the standard principle in the most successful marriages around the world is that your partner is your best friend. And couples who claim to "love" each other, but do not "like" each other, are clearly not best friends.
If the one you love is not your best friend, your relationship in all likelihood, will not become one of the lifelong love stories we have heard throughout the world. But if your partner IS your best friend, congratulations, and never take them (or that friendship) for granted.
By Dr. Charles and Dr. Elizabeth Schmitz America's #1 Love and Marriage Experts. Discover what happily married women know about what makes a man marriage material and learn other revealing truths in How to Marry the Right Guy—the latest, multiple award-winning book by the Doctors.