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.
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!
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.
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:
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.
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.
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!
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!