This past weekend, my wife and I shared a morning free from pressing agendas and so we stayed in bed for awhile. Sharon, especially, loves those mornings. Gleefully, she kicked her legs back-and-forth under the sheets making a swish swish noise. “I love that sound,” she said. “For some reason, it’s always been comforting to me.”
After thinking about that for a moment, I issued a challenge: “She wishes for sheet swishes! Say it three times fast.” We both tried, laughter growing with our every failure.
Moments like that are wonderful. They are reminders of what makes our marriage work. John Gottman, a leading marriage researcher, says it this way: “…happy marriages are based on a deep friendship…a mutual respect for and enjoyment of each other’s company.”* Although Sharon and I deal with the same kinds of issues that challenge every marriage (conflicts, money, sex, whether or not to adopt a dog), it is the strength of our friendship that constantly draws us back to closeness and intimacy.
Couples who try to save their marriage by focusing on having better communication or better sex are usually treating a symptom instead of a cause. They would be better off starting with rediscovering the ways they respect and enjoy each other.
That morning, we finally left the sheets and walked a mile to one of our favorite breakfast spots. Along the way, we talked about marketing strategies, homelessness, stepping in dog poo, Green Acres, our friends, and blue-tongued skinks. I love being married to my friend.
*The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work by John Gottman