Recently I heard a woman say that it seemed like her marriage was in a rut and she and her husband have become just friends. To me this is no good. Should you BE friends with your spouse? Of course! Should you BECOME friends with your spouse? No! In relationships, the one thing that neither party wants to hear from the other is the that dreaded 7 words, “I think we should just be friends”. Marriage is no different. Becoming friends with your spouse is a step back.
Friendship is what should start the relationship. It is the foundation. As cliché as it sounds, you should be friends first. The key word being first. As a friendship both parties may begin to develop romantic feelings or a “spark” may start to evolve. These feelings cause a shift in expectations as well as behaviors.
Once you have decided to be “more than friends” your expectations should change. You should begin to expect more from one another in some of the following ways:
- Emotional Support
- Time spent together
- Familial involvement
On to behaviors. After you have evolved into a relationship your behaviors towards one another also evolve. You have verbally expressed your feelings through sharing your expectations and you now have the desire to express your feelings in other ways. Affection and intimacy is now being added by engaging in any of the following:
- Holding hands
- Sweet talk
- Having sex
Note: I am not saying that when moving a relationship beyond just friends you must do all the above. I am saying that affection and intimacy may be expressed through any of the above.
These things don’t typically occur when just friends.
Friend zone = Danger zone
So let’s get back to becoming friends with your spouse. Do you see how becoming friends with your spouse is a dangerous place to be? I just listed ways that a friendship may change when you just take things to the next level. Marriage is the ultimate level of a relationship and requires the largest commitment of all the things listed and much much more. At this point you are married and definitely should be engaging in all of the above. If you feel that you and your spouse are back in the friend zone that means your exceptions of what you require from one another has decreased and the affection and intimacy (or “spark”) is diminishing. When you require less at some point you begin to care less and that is a dangerous place for spouses to be.
So where do you go from here? Well I don’t believe it is too late as long as both parties have the desire and passion to get out of the friend zone. In most cases it was not consciously decided to go from spouses to friends. Life happened. Children, work, or other responsibilities took priority over your relationship with one another.
Next week for the Marital Monday feature I will share some ideas I came up with of how to get your marriage out of the friend zone.
update: Here is Has Your Spouse Become Your Friend? pt 2