Good Friends, Good Marriage

In my work counseling couples, I am often asked, “what makes for a good marriage?” There are a number of responses to that question: good communication, trust, realistic expectations, compromise, sharing, teamwork and more.

One of the key factors that I frequently see in successful couples, even those who have a ‘bump in the road’ on occasion, is that they have a good friendship.

When we meet a potential partner, we are often so consumed with the thrill of a new relationship that we are at risk of making the wrong choice of partner based upon our immediate ‘rose tinted’ enchantment or short term feelings of excitement and desire.

Often we believe this amazing new person to be something that ultimately you discover they are not, which leads to disappointment and the relationship fizzling out or falling apart.

A Stabilizing Component

Time is a factor that would reveal the truth about the strength of a relationship. Some people can even run for a couple of years on the strength of the ‘initial’ attraction before the decline starts. But for many people in the heady stage of new love, they rush in only to find themselves locked into a bad relationship or having to deal with the aftermath of a rash decision when things start to fall apart.

Friendship in a relationship is a component that can be extremely stabilizing and can help towards maintaining long-term longevity of a marriage.

Friendships, even non-romantic friendship,s involve cooperating and working together. There is a respect and support between friends that honors the relationship and makes it mutually satisfying, otherwise it wouldn’t work.

We are more able to walk away from friendships that don’t work if they are one-sided or destructive because the level of investment and risk is often less than in a romantic relationship. Non-romantic friendships also involve feelings, but they usually don’t encompass the strong feelings of romantic love as well as friendship.

An Added Dimension

So friendship in marriage adds a dimension that helps to strengthen and sustain the relationship. Friends have fun together, they play and they laugh together.  When talking to singles looking for a prospective partner for an intimate relationship, I have found that they rank the ability to have fun together and have their partner make them laugh as an important desirable attribute.

There is less chance of feeling ‘lonely’ in your relationship if you are friends. Communication is usually better and more sincere and true friends rarely have secrets and therefore, trust is stronger in ‘romantic/friend’ type relationships.

A friend shares him or herself, and in an intimate relationship, the possibility of sustaining a long-term union is higher as the couple will often share ideas, hopes and dreams that help them keep a focus on their future together rather than dreaming of what they would do if they were free.

Friendship is key to blissful relationships. Physical beauty fades with age. Disease, aging and childbirth rob us of our youth and outward attraction. If you are truly keen to have a marriage for keeps, you would do well to make friends with your partner.

Friendly couple photo available from Shutterstock

Good Friends, Good Marriage

Janet Winterbourne

Janet Winterbourne is a relationships counselor and freelance writer in the field of mental health in private practice in South Africa. With more than 10 years experience, she is a graduate of the South African College of Applied Psychology in Cape Town and has worked in collaboration with the University of Cape Town in Trauma and Xenophobic studies. She also operates an online consultation service.


APA Reference
Winterbourne, J. (2015). Good Friends, Good Marriage. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 13, 2020, from


Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 23 Jun 2015
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 23 Jun 2015
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