The Gottman’s research has found that couples with a strong friendship, have a better relationship. Your friendship affects every part of your relationship, including intimacy. This is true for both men and women.

These days people separate the idea of relationship from friendship. This is an interesting idea. When you think about it, don’t you have fun with your friends? And, don’t you want to have fun in your relationship? Having fun together is important in any relationship, whether you are intimate or not.

When you start to treat your partner like your BFF, you will start to see your relationship change and grow in healthy ways. Take a genuine interest in your partner. Friends stay together during the tough times. This can also be true in a relationship. The best way to improve the intimacy in your relationship is to work on the friendship. Here are five tips to help you do so:

  1. Express appreciations about your partner regularly. It’s easy to forget this when you have been in a relationship for a while. Write down your appreciations on a piece of paper and stick it on the mirror, text your partner during the day or tell them when you are departing in the morning. An appreciation can be something as simple as ‘I appreciate your smile.’
  2. Say Thank you regularly. Tell your partner what you are thankful for. For example, tell your partner you are thankful they are in your life. That they brighten up your day. You love to see them at the end of the day.
  3. Think fondly of your partner while you are away from one another. Think positive thoughts of one another while away from one another. Think of a fun date you recently went on or send positive thoughts to your partner. When you see each other at the end of the day this will make a world of difference.
  4. Stop saying ‘you’ statements. This will make your partner feel criticized and isolated in the relationship. Learn to rephrase your ‘you’ statements. Tell your partner what you need. For example, I need you to play a game with the family tonight.
  5. Learn to receive your partner’s bids. This is based from The Gottman Study. Couples are always making bids towards one another. This can be eye-contact, a smile, humor, etc. It’s important to respond to your partner’s bids. Learn what your partner’s bids are and make a genuine effort to respond positively.

When you have a strong friendship, it will make it easier to get through the tough times.Think of a couple that you know that has a good relationship. I’m sure they have fun together and I’m sure they have a good friendship.

There are many opinions about whether or not friends can be lovers. I’m not talking about friends with benefits, either. Our research at the Gottman Institute has found, if you want a lasting relationship, then work on the friendship.

Lianne Avila is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist dedicated to helping couples. She has spent the last five years learning and applying The Gottman Method for Couples in her practice. For more information please reach out. Lianne is available for a phone consultation as well as therapy services in San Mateo, CA. You can reach her directly at (650) 892-0357.

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