Friendship can build a wonderful marriage

Published 12:51 am Sunday, February 11, 2007

Hello, Dr. Watson:

Last night, my husband told me that he looks at our relationship as a really good friendship, but is having trouble feeling more than that. His lack of feeling scares him, and doesn’t make me feel too great either. He doesn’t want to get divorced, but he says he doesn’t know what do to about the situation either. I suggested seeing a counselor and received a flat “no”. He doesn’t want a third party involved in our relationship. So where does that leave me? I don’t know what I can do to help solve the situation. I do not get angry with him, I don’t point blame at him. I ask him what I can do and he says he doesn’t know. I have friends who have gone to marriage counseling and have had a really positive experience, but he refuses to go. He’s never been to a counselor before, so I’m sure he just has pre-conceived notions about what they do. Long story short, I can’t fix the problem by myself. He doesn’t know what to do. Neither of us wants to give up on the marriage — so what is my next step? At a Standstill

Dear Standstill:

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I must congratulate you on your friendship with each other and tell you that marriage, a really good marriage, is based on friendship. It is easy and natural for romance to flow from friendship but not nearly as easy for friendship to grow out of a romance. Your challenge is to enrich your friendship so that it becomes a joy for the both of you.

1. Accept each other as you are without trying to change one another. (Why? Because it never really works otherwise.)

2. Appreciate your personal differences. The fact is that men and women are different but they possess the ability to be compatible to a wonderful degree.

3. Pay special attention to the interests of your husband. Support his hobbies, work and social activities without neglecting your own personal interests.

4. Avoid criticizing or arguing. Accentuate the positive, instead, by appreciating the characteristics and actions of your mate whenever you can.

5. Don’t try to force romance. Let it flow naturally because romance ebbs and flows while true friendship is stable and lasting.

6. Have faith that your love will grow.

7. Understand that, out of all the other people on earth, the good Lord has brought you two together. Let not man nor circumstances separate you.

Your challenge as a couple is to enrich your relationship so that you will be very happy you married each other. As you follow these guidelines you can be sure that God will bless your marriage.

Sincerely, Stanley Watson

The problem faced by this couple is typical of most marriages. What happened in their marriage is well described by Dr.Patricia Love in her book, the truth about love: “It is during this period that a love molecule called PEA triggers dopamine and norepinephrine in your brain. Next thing you know, you’re daydreaming, You’ve got butterflies in your stomach, you’re experiencing appetite and sleep loss.but let’s get real–these feelings of grandeur can’t last forever. Like most drugs, these biochemicals wear off, and familiarity sets in.” Dr. Love calls this second phase of love “Post-Rapture” and says that, “while some find this period more comfortable, others, seduced by the early excitement, find it disappointing. Indeed, many couples give up on perfectly good relationships, only to experience the same change of feelings with their next partner.”

Couples who move smoothly through the infatuation phase and into a life-long love relationship do so through open conversations, learning how to disagree without argument or rancor, and taking time for relaxed companionship. The success rate for this group is truly phenomenal. By staying together they followed the principle Jesus gave to his disciples when he was asked about divorce. He said:

“From the beginning of the creation God made them male and female. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife; and they shall be one flesh.What therefore God has joined together, let not man put asunder.” Mark 10:6-9.