As a Houston marriage counselor, people come to me wanting to learn how to be a better wife or husband, but often the first step is learning to become a better friend. Over time, many couples spend less time nurturing their relationship, particularly when a child comes along. But the truth is, couples struggling with relationship issues can become resentful towards one another.  Everyone, especially your children, no matter how young or old they are, will pick up on criticism and resentment. The stress from your marriage will rub off on your kids and can cause a host of behavior problems. So maintaining your friendship isn’t just important for your role as a spouse, but also as a parent.

Make the time. How do you maintain your relationships with your friends? It’s likely you schedule outings together, such as having lunch, going on a shopping trip, or watching a football game. Do the same for your spouse at least once a week. It doesn’t need to be fancy. You can go out to eat, visit a park, or just take a walk around the block. Whatever gives you time to connect and talk to each other.

Join in activities. It’s likely you share some different interests, so consider joining your partner in what he or she enjoys best, whether it’s going fishing or taking a dance class. Even if you learn it’s not for you, you might have a better understanding of why your partner enjoys this activity. You should also try to find hobbies and activities that you both enjoy to participate in together regularly.

Be respectful. You would never dream of giving the silent treatment to a co-worker or rolling your eyes at a friend, but almost every day in my work as a Houston marriage counselor, clients complain about these behaviors from their spouses. Why? Sometimes we are so intimate with someone that we forget our words and actions can hurt their feelings. You take them for granted, but they need to feel valued and comfortable, just like your friends do, and even more so because of unconscious wounding getting triggered far more easily by their most intimate best friend, than any of their other friends.

Be supportive. With all the responsibilities of modern life, it is easy to focus on what your partner messed up. The bill that wasn’t paid, or the lawn that still isn’t mowed.  But it’s important to acknowledge the positives. Be generous with your compliments and appreciation. Remember, you’re both on the same team.

Laugh. It is often said that the key to friendship is laughter. It’s no different in a marriage. Lighten up, be silly, crack jokes. You used to do that, a lot, when you were dating and courting.You may find that laughter starts to infect your entire family!

Talk to a Houston marriage counselor. If you’ve become so disconnected from each other that you don’t know where to start, seek help sooner rather than later. Call our offices today to learn new relationship skills from an experienced Houston marriage counselor.