In our thousands of interviews with couples who have lived and worked on all of the world’s seven continents, we have heard the popular refrain over and over—”I love my partner.” “I love my fiancée.” “I love my spouse.” I love, I love! We admit it – people who say they are in love, probably are! But is love enough to sustain the best relationships?
Is love enough to have a great marriage? That is the most important question to ask yourself.
Here’s the rub – being IN love is easy. It expresses an emotion common to those relationships that have transcended the millennia. Being in love is central to the best marriages – to the best relationships between two people. But being in love is NOT enough!
Here is what we know from our thousands of interviews with those who have had a successful and long-lasting relationship with another human being – no relationship has ever passed the test of time without friendship.
One of the questions of our interview protocol is this – “Who is your best friend?” While we ask this question in every interview, there are two answers that stand out for us as to the importance of friendship in the best relationships.
We got our first most telling response in Rio de Janeiro. After asking this question of the so-called “Best Couple in Rio” we got answers that drove home this point to us. When we asked the most prominent physician in the magnificent city of Rio who his best friend was, he named TEN people and NONE was his wife of 37 years!
And it gets worse – when we asked his wife who her best friend was, she gave ten names and, like him, the list of names did not include her husband, the prominent physician she had been married to for the same 37 years!
Here’s another good example of our point. When we interviewed a couple in Sydney, Australia a few years ago, as usual, we asked the same question – “Who is your best friend?”
To our surprise, both people in this so-called loving relationship, did not consider each other their best friend. We probed and we probed, but alas, neither would admit that their spouse was their best friend.
The simple truth of the matter is this – these two couples professed to “love” each other, but they did not “like” each other. They were clearly not best friends. In fact, when we asked clarifying questions, it became quite clear that neither couple had friendship within their respective relationships.
Make no mistake about it – loving someone is NOT enough. If they are not your best friend, your relationship with them will not pass the test of time. Your relationship with them can never be judged as a great success.
You see, the standard principle in the most successful relationships around the world is this – your partner IS your best friend! There is no equivocation when it comes to this point. Best friends provide each other total trust, loyalty, mutual respect, admiration, encouragement, support, caring, and much more.
If the one you love is not your best friend, your relationship is in serious trouble and, in all likelihood, will not become one of the lifelong love stories we have heard around the world on all seven continents.
So, we will ask you what we have asked every couple we have interviewed across the continents – is the one you purport to love really your best friend? If they are not, you are not really in love for a lifetime .
In the best marriages and loving relationships, being best friends trumps everything else. There are no if’s, and’s, or but’s about it.
Love well! More importantly, like well!
Creating a successful marriage is not always the easiest thing to do. Your visiting our Simple Things Matter blog suggests you are highly interested in making your marriage work! And truthfully, we have learned over 30 years of marriage research that there are proven effective ways to ensure a happy and healthy marriage. In fact, we took hundreds of tips from the thousands of happy couples we interviewed and put them into our award-winning and bestselling book, Building a Love that Lasts.
**Today, you can see how you stack up to the best marriages around the world. Take the Marriage Quiz to assess your chances of achieving a successful marriage of your own.
By Drs. Charles and Elizabeth Schmitz
America’s #1 Love and Marriage Experts