Friendship Counts

Friendship Counts

I could see the sparkle in their eyes as they talked about those early days together and how much th

Most people think that love and passion hold a relationship together, but is that all there is to it?  I’ve learned that in the long run couples stay together because they develop a friendship and like each other.  That friendship is the foundation of a healthy, happy relationship.  Affection and mutual support are the mortar that cements a relationship.

Susan and Dave came in wanting to improve their sex life.  They had been married 7 years and they said things were getting routine.  I was curious why the fire had gone out of their sex life because this is not the normal evolution of a relationship.  Over time most couples find that as they learn more about each other and get more comfortable, their sexual experiences improve

Storm Clouds
Susan said their troubles seemed to escalate when her parents surprised her by telling them they were divorcing.  Both she and Dave thought they had handled her parents impending divorce well though they knew it was stressful.  In therapy they discovered that they were affected far more than they thought and that it had triggered unresolved issues between them.  Especially, Susan had started having second thoughts about Dave’s love for her.

I wanted to understand more about the nature of their friendship.  I asked them how they met and what attracted them to each other and what was it that kept them together after that.  Susan said that she and Dave met on the job and one day they discovered that they both grew up in near by small towns.  I could see the sparkle in their eyes as they talked about those early days together and how much they shared.  I could tell that I had been successful in getting them to remember the important, positive aspects of their lives together, in other words, why they were together in the first place.  

Beginning Again
At my request Susan and Dave took some time that next week to have a date.  They choose to attend a local festival which was something that they both liked to do and it reminded them of how much they actually enjoyed each other’s company.  They also remembered that in the beginning of their relationship they valued how supportive they were with each other. 

As I listened to them in our next session I could see that they were beginning to renew their good feelings for each other.  For the next week I asked them to set aside a little time each day to update each other on the day’s events and to be supportive of each other again.

The next week Dave expressed how great it had been for Susan to take an active role in helping him make some important business decisions.  Then Susan said she really appreciated Dave’s listening to her when she had to deal with a difficult coworker.  The negative edge I used to hear in their voices when they spoke about each other had disappeared and was replaced by an air of mutual respect.  They were rediscovering their mutual friendship.  

At the same time their sex life spontaneously improved.  After all, it is much easier to go to bed with someone you like.  They were rediscovering their friendship, the special feelings they each had inside for each other. In a relationship, friendship is ultimately what gets us through the tough times and makes it all worthwhile.

Dr. Karen Gless is a Marriage and Family Therapist in private practice who has developed her own approach to helping couples have a successful and loving relationship. For those with sexual and intimacy problems she created the “Pure Pleasure System” - learn more at Sex Therapy For ways to increase love, get close or handle conflict visit