Richard Gere separated from Cara Lowell over the past year and they are planning to divorce after 11 years of marriage.  The media has reported on the high percentage of divorces amongst celebrities and wonder how they grow apart.  There are many reasons for relationship failures, but one reason is celebrity couples are often traveling and in different parts of the world or country.  As a result of this separation the intimate, emotional connection lines begin to fade and all of a sudden find themselves living separate lives.

Have you notice your marriage in a physical drought or in constant turmoil?  Are you sick of arguing and not feeling connected to your spouse?  Is there less laughter and affection and a sense of loneliness? The daily grind of work, raising children, and financial obligations can cause a lot stress and at times distance in a marriage.  It is vital to stay emotionally connected to your spouse to deal with these everyday responsibilities and stressors.

John Gottman, one of the leading psychologists in marriage counseling, has conducted over 16 years of research on couples.  His research has found that even happily married couples can have screaming matches or loud arguments and it doesn’t necessarily harm a marriage.  He has found that the heart of happy marriages is friendship.  What your life looks like together when you are not arguing.

Think about when you first met your spouse?  What attracted you to them?  Their looks, humor, ambition, or companionship.  These are some of the top things that individuals are initially drawn to when meeting a potential mate.  In courtship a friendship develops and this sense of finding a best friend or partner to share the rest of your life.  Gottman believes that strengthening the friendship within the couple is the key to success in couples counseling and happy life-long marriages.

No Better Gift for your Spouse: According to Gottman, emotionally intelligent couples are intimately familiar with each other’s worlds.  To know you is to love you!  It is essential to stay deeply connected emotionally no matter what life circumstances are thrown at you.  There is no better gift you could give to your spouse than the joy that comes from feeling known and understood.

Four tips to strengthen the friendship within the marriage:

  1. Go on dates where your spouse where you can intimately talk and connect.  Ask questions like you did when your first starting dating such as interests, goals, fantasies, ambitions, and life history.  Or ask about present life issues such as what is bringing the most joy or stress in their daily life?  These questions automatically bring emotional closeness with one another and sense of companionship.  As humans we are all looking for validation, closeness, and connection especially in our intimate relationships.
  2. Remind yourself of why and how you first fell in love with your partner?  It is imperative to recall all of your partner’s positive qualities when dealing with difficult personality challenges.  Without the fundamental belief that your spouse is worthy of honor and respect where is the basis for any kind of rewarding relationship.  Displaying unconditional love is invigorating for one’s self-esteem and happiness during some of the most difficult life challenges one can face.
  3. Turn toward each other in everyday mundane moments instead of away.  Connect daily in small meaningful interactions.  This helps your marriage stability and can keep the ongoing sense of romance.  Examples such as reuniting at the end of the day and talking about the highlights if it for 10 minutes, texting throughout the day, eating breakfast together, working out together, watch favorite TV shows or reading the paper together, going to children’s events together, planning a weekly date or upcoming vacation together, or dreaming together about family goals, just to name a few.  You are depositing savings in your emotional bank account when life throws curveballs.
  4. Being helpmates for each other.  Doing things that gives a helping hand for your spouse each day.  Ask your spouse what a few of those things could be?  Examples such as sharing chores, helping care for the children, preparing meals, assisting spouse to have time to do extracurricular activities such as playing sports or connecting with same sex friends.  Remind yourself that being helpful to each other will do far more for the strength and passion of your marriage than a two-week Caribbean getaway.

These are just a few tips based out of John Gottman’s extensive research on couples and found in his best-sellingbook, The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work.  If you don’t even know where to find the strength to rebuild friendship in your marriage due to betrayal, lack of trust, or faith it would be extremely helpful and revitalizing for your marriage to seek couple’s counseling with a professional licensed therapist.  Total Life Counseling (TLC) has several expert marriage counselors’ that use Gottman’s innovative evidence based treatment modalities to strengthen marriages.  You can fall back in love with your life partner all over again with a help and a healthy dose of  a little TLC.

NOTE: you can freely redistribute this resource, electronically or in print, provided you leave the authors contact information below intact. Author: Dana West, MSW, LCSW is an Orlando Marriage Counselor & Addictions, Sexual Abuse Trauma Therapist with Total Life Counseling Center with offices in Southwest Orlando, East Orlando, Winter Park, Lake Mary & Clermont Florida.