Fireworks Have Nothing on Friendship

Fireworks have Nothing on Friendship

There is a classic scene in an old-time movie titled Shenandoah. Charlie Anderson, played by the amazing Jimmy Stewart, has a conversation with his daughter’s boyfriend, Sam. In the film, Sam asks Charlie for permission to marry his daughter. The conversation goes like this:

Sam: I want to ask for your daughter’s hand in marriage.

Charlie: Why? Why do you want to marry her?

Sam: Well, I love her.

Charlie: That’s not good enough. Do you like her?

Sam: I just said I—

Charlie: No, no. You said you loved her. There is some difference between love and like. You see, Sam, when you love a woman without likin’ her, the night can be long and cold, and contempt comes up with the sun.[1]

No doubt passion and romance are part of a healthy marriage, but it’s proven that companionship and deep friendship are often the best predictors of happiness in a long-lasting relationship. From painful experience, many people know you can love someone and have a horrible relationship. It’s when you like them that your love relationship deepens. Liking your spouse involves turning toward your spouse with positivity. Positivity involves the emotional climate of your relationship. Dr. John Gottman, one of the world’s leading marriage researchers, claims that one of the main differences between a stable and an unstable marriage is spouses’ positivity toward one another. As it turns out, positivity is a choice. Couples in the happiest and most fulfilled marriages don’t seem to have any fewer problems than others, but they do tend to choose to be more positive. Life is more about perspective than circumstance. Couples who choose positivity and work on friendship have happier relationships.

Having a friendship is key to a long-lasting relationship. Dr. Georgia Witkin puts it this way: “In survey after survey, at least 80 percent of couples in successful long-term relationships report that they had become best friends.”[2] Best friends bring out the best in each other. They feel accepted. They enjoy each other’s company. They have a companionate love on which their relationship is built. This creates emotional intimacy, which often proceeds deeper attraction, passion, and physical intimacy.

[1] Shenandoah, directed by Andrew V. McLaglen, written by Jame Lee Barrett, Universal Pictures, 1965.

[2] Georgia Witkin, “How to Keep Intimacy Alive,” Parade (April 4, 1993), 12.

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Jim Burns

Jim Burns is the president of HomeWord. He speaks to thousands of people around the world each year. He has close to 2 million resources in print in 20 languages. He primarily writes and speaks on the values of HomeWord, which are: Strong Marriages, Confident Parents, Empowered Kids, and Healthy Leaders. Some of his most popular books are: Confident Parenting, The Purity Code, Creating an Intimate Marriage, Closer, and Doing Life with Your Adult Children. Jim and his wife, Cathy, live in Southern California and have three grown daughters, Christy, Rebecca, and Heidi; three sons-in-law, Steve and Matt, and Andy; and three grandchildren, James, Charlotte and Huxley.

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