Why the Best Relationships are Rooted in Friendship

On her list of “Core Characteristics of Power Couples”, psychotherapist Jamie Molnar, listed “Rooted in Friendship” as the first of ten. The importance of friendship in any relationship was a focus on Jamie’s Power Couples Podcast episode, but there just wasn’t enough time to truly dig in. Now we’re bringing you actionable tips on how to bring this core characteristic into your relationship, and how to foster an unrivaled friendship with your partner.

POWER COUPLES FRIENDSHIP
  • Don’t Get Hung Up on the Honeymoon Phase

The infamous “Honeymoon Phase” is an exciting phenomenon when you’re in a spicy new relationship. However, it can be a daunting subject to those a little (or a LOT) further along in their journey who may fear the dip of desire when this phase ends. The good news? The fact that the Honeymoon Phase ends is not a death sentence for your romance or relationship. There’s life beyond the honeymoon phase - plus, if you’re keen to put the work in, you can actually keep that newlywed mindset and mojo long after you’ve shaken the sand out of your suitcase. 

When you’re first committing to a partner, there’s a deep sense of infatuation and attraction, plus a sexual desire that floods your experience. These physiological rushes will likely be short lived, unless you put in some elbow grease to keep ‘em flowing. Studies show “couples can sustain these honeymoon feelings throughout their relationship by challenging each other with new activities” - biking and dancing are cited as great options to try! So basically, you can boogie your way back to bliss - but you’ll find the honeymoon vibes are even better when reignited. The strong spark that is a true friendship with your partner, will feed the flames of desire when you put the effort in to get back in touch with those early-romance feelings!

POWER COUPLES FRIENDSHIP
  • Let Your Partner be Your Best Friend

Who’s your best friend? Researchers asked this of married couples and found those who listed their spouse were twice as likely to have higher life satisfaction! Dr. John Helliwell, editor of the World Happiness Report, found, “the benefits of marriage are strong even for those who are littered with outside friends. The benefit is just bigger for those who consider their spouse their closest friend. It’s a bonus.”

As humans, we crave friendship. Our need for deep connection and to be truly known, are powerful parts of who we are from the start. We cannot thrive without friendship within or outside an intimate relationship. A best friend is someone who knows you better than anyone else. They’re someone you can turn to for understanding even at your very worst, and the same person you can celebrate your greatest joys with. When nothing in life seems to make sense, this person gets it - they get you. You’re never alone because you have an ally in this wild world. Power Couples know bonds like these are amazing assets in life, love and even business. These couples know that tapping into true friendship within your romantic relationship unlocks unrivaled potential. Root your relationship in friendship and you’ll be grounded and experience the great freedom this type of stability provides. Couples who are best friends can rise higher and withstand more.

POWER COUPLES FRIENDSHIP
  • Be Best Friends but Maintain Your Independence 

Sound like an oxymoron? Don’t worry - you really can have both. As you build your friendship with your partner, it’s essential to foster outside friendships and to keep investing in your own interests, too. To avoid isolation, you’ll both need to spend time and energy on your individual friendships to keep them healthy and thriving as well. It’s healthy to have others to turn to in moments or stress or celebration as your spouse should not be your only support system. When this piece of the puzzle is neglected, it can put too heavy a weight on your partner and your relationship - no one person should need to meet all of your needs, all of the time. So, for the sake of your love - make time for your own friends!

Having individual friends helps with another key component of a healthy relationship, too… keeping your own interests, passions and hobbies! Have a love for hiking but your partner isn’t into it or up for it? Call a pal, go on a solo hike, make an adventure out of it. Then, bring the experiences and lessons learned home as fresh food for thought and conversation with your partner. After all, you two fell for each other not only for your similarities, but for your differences too. Don’t let your spark of individuality die with the birth of your friendship with your partner. 

Three easy tips to get you started as you root your relationship in friendship:

  1. Tune In 

    Schedule a daily tune-in

    Schedule 10-20 minutes each day, specifically for you and your partner to talk. This time will be multi-use and will include discussions from simply downloading about your day to expressing feelings or sharing desires and dreams. This designated time becomes a regular part of your routine and fosters open and honest communication on things big and small. When a potential issue might otherwise be left unsaid, this daily time ensures there’s space for it to be discussed easily and without undue pressure. 

  2. Tune Out

    Choose a new tune-out method 

    Next time you’re ready to tune out and turn down the noise of life, skip the Netflix session. Yes, it feels like a simple way to zone out, but you’ll be rewarded with renewed energy if you choose a fresh method! Committed to too many holiday parties? Skip out on one and take a night walk together instead. Stressed out from trying to plan the perfect date night? Say forget it and head to a bookstore together, grab two new books and dedicate an hour to reading together. Choosing a more unplugged tune-out activity will rejuvenate and recharge you.

  3. Tune Up

    Plan for regular tune-ups

    Driving a car that hasn’t had it’s oil changed leaves you sitting on the side of the highway, in the cold, with a blown motor and a huge bill to pay. You’d never neglect your vehicle to that degree, so don’t do it to your relationship either. Your partnership requires regular tune-up maintenance. Commit to maintaining your relationship with care and concern along the way and you’ll be able to cruise through even the toughest of times together.

Our Personal Journey Rooting Our Relationship in Friendship

After a whirlwind romance and a seaside wedding just 13 months after we met, Wilhelm and I spent our honeymoon stretching $5,000 as far as we could for a summer in Europe. That’s when we started our first joint venture - a blog - called Nomadic Newlyweds. Neither of our moms have Facebook, so honestly, we started our blogger site to keep them in the loop as we jaunted about. Upon returning home, we realized we enjoyed documenting our lives together to share with the world… but the big question was, would we keep the name? 

“Well - you can’t be newlyweds forever - so what will you change it to?” seemed to be on the tip of everyones tongue. We didn’t want to change the name and quickly came to the conclusion we didn’t agree with this “common knowledge” anyway. Young, optimistic and wildly in love - we wondered, “why can’t we stay newlyweds forever?” That’s when we came up with our first mantra as a pair… Newlywed is a state of mind, rather than a frame of time.

We started our marriage planning to keep the love alive, to always come with curiosity first, to intentionally foster that newlywed mindset. To us, that began with a strong focus on our friendship. 

So, how can you solidify this best friend relationship with your partner? Start with what you know… take a non-romantic best friend and reverse engineer the relationship. 

I learned much about the joys of true friendship through my relationship with my best friend Anna. This babe is courageous, hilarious, loyal, and strong willed. Throughout our 10+ year friendship, we’ve taken risks together from skipping class to breaking in to monuments (not endorsing this - but it’s true). Ironically, we were unlikely friends. “What a princess - she’s a brat”, Anna recalls of our first encounter. I wasn’t particularly a fan of hers, either - I remember thinking she was loud and maybe even annoying. Proximity (we were randomly assigned college roommates) pushed us beyond our differences and quickly brought us to the many, many values and interests we held in common. Funny to think I could have gotten in the way of one of life’s greatest friendships just because I thought she was noisy and had an irritating ringtone. Scary, really! 

Fast forward to me finding my human and it’s interesting that my meet-cute with Wilhelm was an ironic, unlikely one as well. Coming off a breakup and recently swearing off romance, I assumed the handsome dark-haired stranger was married when I first spotted him. Later, I learned he had actually been out to dinner with his mom! Our love story was wild, fast and fun, but we built a strong, consistent friendship even from the start. Wilhelm’s charismatic, loyal and tenacious. He’s curious, decisive and always up for an adventure. 

When you compare Anna and Wilhelm, you’ll find they are both loyal risk-takers on a mission to take in all there is to see of this wild, wonderful thing called life. Of course, adding Wilhelm to my life and becoming best friends with him didn’t replace my Anna, but it’s a clear example of how you can take a page from your own playbook when looking for a partner. You’re going to want an amazing friendship with them, too, so scout what you value in a friend and be sure to apply that criteria to your dating relationships! 

Pro tip: a great way to be a better friend for your partner is to find out what they need from a friend as well! See what they value in their closest friendships and put an emphasis on those elements of your partnership, too.

A pair who’s doing it well (and very publicly so) is Rachel and Dave Hollis. While this power couple is inspiring the globe with their big, take charge advice, we think one of their simplest suggestions may just be their most powerful. During a recent podcast episode on their show, Rise Together, they suggest creating inside jokes and games as a way to strengthen your relationship. For these two, this looks like choosing a word (silly but not too crazy) before an obligation (think work-related cocktail party) and seeing how many times they can slip said word into casual conversation. Later, they laugh together telling the tale of how they wove the silly word into the evenings chatter. 

What could seem just a childish game is actually a perfect example of play and friendship within a power couple relationship. These two have found a way to stay connected when apart at parties and are united in a fun and challenging activity. Plus, they’ve created fresh conversation for the two of them once the party has concluded.

Now it’s your turn! Use this as inspiration to foster friendship and fun in your partnership… Challenge yourself to find a way to enjoy life together and stay connected even amongst the most ordinary of circumstances!

XO,

B&W


10 Core Characteristics of Power Couples

POWER COUPLES PODCAST | Episode 2

Want to hear the podcast chat that spurred this article? Tune in to Episode 2 of the Power Couples Podcast to hear the 10 Core Characteristics of Power Couples. Psychotherapist Jamie Molnar dishes out the traits she’s seen again and again amongst couples who THRIVE!

POWER COUPLES PODCAST

3 Proven Steps to Become a Power Couple

You’re a solid couple, happy and in love… you even like each other most of the time - you’re on a roll! You have jobs you like, a space you lovingly call “home,” and a life you’re proud of.

Looking around, you’re grateful not to be experiencing the same lulls and lows as many relationships… yet, the plateau of contentment you’ve found with your partner makes you both a little uneasy.

3.png

The good news: What might seem like an issue, is really an opportunity for massive growth. If you’re in a good place in life and love but want to be great, it’s time to start focusing on an untapped superpower: Your relationship!

You’re just three habits away from being a true Power Couple

Tap into the power that’s held within your own partnership, and up-level your lifestyle and your mindset with these three power couple habits.

- - - - - - -

1. Express Your Feelings
(Power Couples go beyond business talk)

It’s easy to imagine power couples communicating what they think, but what may sneak by is the fact that they also excel at sharing how they feel! 

This isn’t something to practice only in times of stress or bliss, but in your day to day life. Expressing feelings about trivial things, such as how the sunny weather delights you or how clutter building up on your dresser makes you tense, helps carve space for true understanding and trust. Having room set aside for communication with compassion leads to extra energy for idea generation, productivity and happiness!

Dr. John Gottman, world-renowned psychological researcher and clinician, found that a healthy relationship is built on a series of components that all revolve around a commitment to fostering loving communication. A relationship built on steady and open communication will be highly-functioning, respectful and supportive.

True communication within your relationship involves the expression not only thoughts, but of feelings to create a foundation for a future without limits.

- - - - - - -

2. Envision Success
(Power Couples are on that visualization train)

Power couples are more than just doers, they’re dreamers! Couples who excel know the power not only of setting, but of taking the time to visualize their goals. 

Research shows imagining highly specific goals impacts our brain patterns and aids in achieving them nearly as strongly as the physical actions we take toward them. When you create shared dreams and goals with your partner, and then actively visualize them, you’re priming your brain for the successful outcome you’ve pictured!

A study on the effect of goal setting in group environments, co-written by Kleingeld, van Mierlo, and Arends for the Journal of Applied Psychology found that groups that established specific goals were able to reach a higher level of success than those who had more simple, non-specific goals. As a couple, you are your own unique, empowered group that will succeed together when you decide together precisely what you want to accomplish!

How you visualize your objectives matters just as much as setting them in the first place. A study at Dominican University by psychologist Gail Matthews tested different ways to envision your goals including thinking about your goals, writing your goals, planning actions, planning actions with mild accountability, and planning actions with detailed accountability. The study found that writing your goals down, announcing your goals publicly, and accountability were key to achieving success. Part of envisioning your goals and actually reaching them is envisioning how you are going to get there. You can dream of grandeur or you can envision a life together where your actions match your ambitions.

- - - - - - -

3. Execute Daily
(Power Couples create habits for success)

This one’s a no-brainer, but when you’ve got big goals (and we know you two do) this step can trip you up. Power couples take action on their goals, daily!

This doesn’t mean every day is a playoff game, but you should be stretching, studying or practicing, even on your “off days”. These actions can be shared or solo. In fact, it’s important to identify your individual strengths and delegate positions accordingly. Work backward from your goal, set milestones you want to hit, and plan daily actions you can take to make them happen!

If you’re ready to take the leap from good to great in life and love, harnessing the power of your partnership is key!

Stephen Covey, educator, author, businessman and keynote speaker, talks about the daily rituals utilized by successful individuals in his book “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Covey shows that effective and successful individuals are proactive not reactive. Most of us have heard that, “to achieve goals you’ve never achieved before you need to start doing things you’ve never done before,” it was Covey who gave you that piece of wisdom.

Taking action is just putting into practice the vision you have created for yourselves. You’ve communicated and grown. You’ve envisioned your goals. Now you get to put in the work!

Actions To Take

Carve regular space and time to express your feelings, this will empower you with the skill of compassionate communication. You’ll start hearing your partner more fully, and being fully heard in return. This open line of communication is vital for fresh ideas to flourish, and new dreams to be born! As you define shared goals, don’t forget to envision them, prepping your minds for success. Along with visualizing, you’ll need a plan of action made up of daily steps that will lead you to your ultimate goal.

Tap into the immense potential that’s created through your partnership, and you’ll be well on your way to Power Couple Status. Use this newly cultivated magic to build a more fulfilling, successful life and reach your business, finance, family and personal dreams faster.

How I Found the Surprisingly Silly Side of Paris

In the name of full disclosure, I must tell you: Paris was not included on the original itinerary for our honeymoon.

4.png

Don’t hate me, but I’ve been and while I think it’s a lovely place, it has simply never spoken to me (more less whispered sweet nothings in my ear the way it surely does to nearly every other human who visits!). 

Paris gets around. She knows many lovers…but, thus far, Paris and I have had no chemistry.

My mother and father-in-law adore the city. They’ve been here a number of times and were crushed that my husband wasn’t going to experience it. So, Paris was added thanks to their loving persuasion…and, I must admit, Paris stepped up its game this time.

I love history and I’m a sucker for a great revolution story – so you’d think this glittering city would have already won my heart, but not until tonight.

Our hotel is just steps away from the famous Tuileries Gardens. Created by Catherine de Medicis, these gardens were private for a century before opening up to the public (just after the French Revolution). Now, in the 21st century: on any given day, these beautiful grounds can be enjoyed by the public for relaxation and socialization. That’s all fine and dandy…but for a few months during the summer, these peaceful gardens are turned into a wonderland that enchants the young and the old alike…

I’m like a moth to the flashing-carnival-light-flame.

I love the cheap games and the bing-bang-cling-clang noises of the rickety old rides. I think ferris wheels are charming, nostalgic and downright romantic. I dig the adrenaline rush of being scared out of my wits by a hideous clown as I get lost in the maze of mirrors in a fun house. So as we stroll out of our hotel in search of food and adventure, I squeal with delight when I spot the high-flyer spinning up above, with the Eiffel Tower twinkling behind it.

A gorgeous twist on the dirty, crowd-ridden fairs we experience each summer in the Midwest (again, not knocking them – I love them, goat auctions and all), this festival is saturated with European class - Stocked with vintage crepe carts and merry-go-rounds adorned with horses dating back to 1900! 

What was meant to be a pit stop before a fancy dinner has turned into an evening of cheap French wine sipped from plastic stemware, hotdogs smothered in spicy mustard, and an array of flavored crepes – (not the least of which is a Grand Marnier crepe that I believe may leave me with a headache tomorrow!)

We throw a few bucks away playing rigged games before we get the nerve to brave the fun house. We scramble as the floor drops from beneath us and we dizzily flop forward from a spinning trap. When our path leads us to a quiet (and, in retrospect, remarkably unstable) ledge atop the fun house, we take a break from the craziness to enjoy the City of Lights lit up in all its glory in the dark night. This vantage point is lovely, we can see the carnival below and the sparkling city all around.

The only way down is through a huge, swirling slide. When we emerge from the giant tunnel, laughing hysterically, my hubby points out that the butt of my pristine white slacks is black with fun-house-grunge. 

The absurdity of the evening was well worth the fashion sacrifice.

Paris has won a piece of my heart through this silly festival. I’ve met the low-key, goofy side of the city – and we are getting along swell.

Stark Naked In Switzerland is the Only Way to Go

After a brisk, (read: FREEZING), sunrise hike in the Bernese Alps we are ready to relax and be rejuvenated - Thankfully the crisp weather isn't the only refreshing thing here in Adelboden. 

The wellness spa welcomes us with warm, open arms (whilst it’s hands are filled with hot herbal tea, mmm!). 

5.png

Relatively speaking, we aren’t high maintenance – Here they offer treatments from blackberry wraps to alpine herb massages- All we want is to warm up…take a dip in the serene, outdoor hot pool all whilst gazing out upon the vast, enchanting mountain range.

Cool thing is - around here, that isn’t too much to ask!

As we head off to our respective changing rooms, it feels as though the floors, the walls, even the glowing wall sconces have been steeped in lavender and eucalyptus – as if the entire spa were created from an organic matter infused with natural, tranquil scents. 

The calm and quiet spa attendant takes us through the options available to us, recommending that we try the rain shower and the steam bath. She guides us to a beautiful wooden area enclosed by a steamy glass door adorning cautionary labels. She breezes through as if it’s completely commonplace…

“Oh and here, as in all European spas, no clothes are permitted whatsoever….” She goes on to talk about which type of mud-mask she recommends…

In the States, it’s “No shirt. No service.” Up here, we’ve got a sticker on the door of a bra, and one of a pair of men’s shorts…both of which have a “no smoking” style strike through them! Well, I’ll be darned - I think I’m Mrs. Adventurous 'til someone says the adventure must be done naked…in a public, co-ed place.

Briefly, I wonder if I’m really just a Midwestern Wallflower after all.

Today, we are proving that ‘Bashful’ is not a part of our vocabularies. I’m not even sure what the intent of a Finnish sauna is, but challenge accepted!    

Off go the robes.    

Right here in the middle of the spa. Folks in the serenity room are in athletic gear, stretching their arms out in yoga-like fashion and those in the rain shower have only left their towels outside and are surely dressed to some degree.

And here we are. Stark naked.

Now, to see your spouse naked is normal and lovely. A perk of the job, one might say. BUT, to see them naked in public is an odd experience. Not good nor bad. Just. Plain. Odd.   

I've impressed even myself with this strange (mis)adventure…and though we are admittedly hoping no one else is within the wooden box as we heedfully inch the door open, we do in fact venture in.

The coast is clear – No nude Europeans frolicking about. Just two crazy Americans.

The Unconventional Way We Met

After a two year soul searching adventure that took me not only cross country, but around the world – it was time to return home (somewhat begrudgingly, I admit) to the Midwest. Before I gave in and headed back to my hometown, I spent every last dime of my savings on a backpacking trip. I trekked through the mountains, glaciers and volcanoes of the stunning-but-desolate country of Iceland finding adventure and maybe even a little bit of myself.

Once the voyage led me back to my childhood bedroom in Ohio, I needed to get a job! An old friend helped me land an engagement as bartender at a historic mansion (previously a speakeasy and a noted gangster hang-out) turned five-star steak house. It was my first night training and I should have been paying close attention, as I didn’t know the difference between a Mint Julep and a Screwdriver, but something else had caught my eye and held my interest.

He looked like Clark Kent and he dressed like Jay Gatsby.

As he popped a bottle of champagne, laughing jovially, he was full of life – and I, was captivated. Across the high top table sat a beautiful, petite brunette who wore a ponytail, sundress and a noticeably sparkling wedding ring.

“Lucky lady,” I thought wistfully. A refreshing thought crossed my mind, “I want to meet a man just like that.”

As fate would have it, I met a man JUST like that. 

Later the same evening the handsome stranger returned with a friend in tow. This time he took a seat where I couldn’t miss him, at the bar behind which I was working. He ordered a Kettle One martini with bleu cheese olives, but I was so distracted I served him something along the lines of a tequila and tonic (Ew, right?!) but alas, I heard no complaints.

After a bit of small talk I believed he was simply playing the role of “wingman” to his cute-but-quiet friend. When he, not the friend, asked for my phone number I finally had to say something.

“I’m sorry, but weren’t you just here…with your wife?!” I protested confidently. He replied coolly, with a smirk that seemed to say ‘so you noticed me too, eh?’,

“Well, you mean my date for dinner?”… “That, was my mother.”

Blushing, but delighted and quite relieved, I scribbled my name and number on a cocktail napkin…and the rest is history.

He recounts falling in love with my sense of adventure and open-mind. I vividly remember being drawn in by his authenticity, confidence and charisma. As we got to know one another we learned we both had led charmed lives – raised on Midwest farms each with two siblings and adoring, hardworking parents, only ten miles from one another. A shared love of the luxurious paired with an honest,  down-to-earth appreciation for life was what ultimately bewitched us both. Three days after we met he told me he was falling in love with me and within the year he asked me to be his wife.

After a brief engagement, we said “I do” in a rooftop garden on Marco Island, with waves of the Gulf crashing behind us. Our intimate celebration included our immediate family and our rowdy bridal party. We kicked our shoes off for photos on the beach, ate dinner on a terrace overlooking the water as the sun set before us, and danced the night away in the lounge surrounded by our best friends and our beloved family. To me, it was the perfect pairing of glamour and relaxed charm from the dripping chandeliers to the weathered lanterns.

In the words of Humphrey Bogart in Casablanca (well, sort of!)…

“Of all the steak joints, in all the towns, in all the world… He walked into mine.”

Brooke & Wilhelm | Power Couples | How We Met