How to keep the friendship alive

I want to suggest that the best way to protect a couple’s relationship is as simple as learning to build and maintain a deep friendship – a solid, fail-proof foundation. None of us are immune to conflict and the potential of separation, and so we need to treat our relationship with our partner as something very precious to keep nurturing.

Through friendship, our language shifts from ‘I’ to ‘we’, ‘me’ to ‘us’ and from ‘yours and mine’ to ‘ours’ – tiny words with a huge impact. Cultivating friendship looks like spending time together, having fun and connecting with one another. But this doesn’t just mean finding time for a date night. There are also some very practical, less obvious practices that can protect your friendship.

The daily debrief

In my experience, is the most commonly absent factor in a hurting couple’s routine. Without that base-touching, ‘let’s catch up’ time at the end of the day, it’s easy for resentment and misunderstanding to creep in unannounced. In this cup-of-tea, back-rubbing, debriefing pause before dinner or bed, we listen as well as speak, validating each other in a way that bringing home the salary never can. It’s there that we display interest and attentiveness, maintain trust and sort out misunderstandings. Regular catch-ups are as essential to relationships as weeding and pruning are to maintain a flourishing garden.

Aim to go to bed together at the end of the day

As in, at the same time. Yes, I know there’s Facebook to check, emails to attend to, compelling novels to read, YouTube and TradeMe, but can you remember a time, pre-internet, when most couples went to bed at the same time? It said, “We are in sync, we are a team, we finish the journey together.” As we become fixated in our own world, it communicates that there are plenty of things in our lives that are more important than our partners.

Look out for each other

What does this look like? Well, it could be making sure the car is full of fuel and ready for our partner’s use in the morning. It could be ensuring that the credit card overdraft is arranged and appropriate so it doesn’t get refused when they go to pay for the groceries. It could look like a surprise bunch of flowers or a favourite chocolate for no particular reason, except to make them smile.

And is it really worth such ‘extra’ effort – something your parents may never have role-modelled to you? Well, what about a peaceful home and a far greater satisfaction with your choice of partner than you’ve ever experienced? If that doesn’t smoke your tires, what about the promise of getting to live a long and happy life with your very best friend? Surely that does it for you.

Another added bonus is the hope you give your children for their own future partnerships – the sure knowledge that it’s possible for couples to be friends and to go the distance. Making an effort with your partner tells your kids that they are valued and safe. When they thank you for that, it will all be worth it.

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About Author

David Riddell

David Riddell is a counsellor, author and communicator and is the founder of the Living Wisdom Association of Counsellors. For more info, visit

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