We hear people who are deeply in love say all the time, “My spouse is my best friend!” Great! That’s the way it should be. We should be best friends, from the very early “puppy love” stage of our relationship all the way through our gray-hair years and beyond. Friendship is one of those core things necessary to build trust in a longterm, committed relationship.

In our previous two blog posts, we touched on what trust is and how trust can be built and maintained — which includes exhibiting deep friendships. The goal of this article is to expand on the friendship conversation.

There’s a lot packed into this post, too, by the way. So, it’s your lucky day!

In great relationships, couples build friendship and intimacy


John Gottman said in The Science of Trust that couples who are in a great relationship focus on building friendships and intimacy. They nurture emotional connections, friendship, fun, and playfulness. Both of them talk and help each other with stresses and concerns. They perpetually work to make things better, including identifying their partner’s feelings and working to understand them while also expressing their own thoughts and feelings.


Gottman said there are three main ways to build a friendship that lasts:


  1. You’re interested in knowing — You want to know your partner’s feelings, thoughts, ideas, dreams, and desires. You ask questions and genuinely care about your partner and how they answer those things and what’s important to them.


  1. You build affection and respect — We do this by looking for the things that we can admire, care about, and appreciate that our partner does and the character that they have that we admire. Maybe it’s because your wife is so amazing at caring for you and the kids, or perhaps it’s your husband’s heart for volunteering at the local soup kitchen every weekend.


  1. You ask for friendship — Spouses do this through asking for attention, affection, empathy, and support. This natural human desire, in particular, feeds into Gottman’s theory of turning toward your partner rather than turning away.


Turning Toward vs. Away vs. Against


In the most basic sense, turning toward your partner means all the things we’ve just discussed. You are aware and mindful about when your partner is making some type of desire or engagement for connection. Couples who turn toward each other generally have more trust, affection, and humor — even when they are at odds.


An example of turning toward:

Husband: (looking out the window) Wow. There’s our neighbor walking that huge great dane again. That is such an awesome dog. We really ought to go to the pet store today and look for one!”

Wife: “That is a cool dog! But that dog is way too big for us, babe. I mean, where would it sleep?”


Turning away shows a lack of direct response or preoccupation with something else. In other words, they ignore you or are too busy with something they’ve deemed as more important.


An example of turning away:

Wife: “It is a beautiful day out there today! Babe, we should go for a bike ride later.”

Husband: (Doesn’t even acknowledge because he’s too busy looking at Facebook and drinking coffee)


Turning against is an outright negative response. A spouse shows disgust, contempt, criticism, or anger.


An example of turning against:

Wife: “It is a beautiful day out there today! Babe, we should go for a bike ride later.”

Husband: “A bike ride? Really? I can’t think of anything I’d like to do less!”


What we are trying to say is that

trust in a marriage isn’t something that is achieved early on and then accepted as status quo.

It must be built and maintained over the life of the marriage — and feeling like your partner is your best friend is a big part of that. Couples who build a friendship with one another will have the marriage they’ve always dreamed of.

Check back with us as we continue this conversation on trust in the coming weeks.


Our heart is devoted to caring about people and marriages!

Our heart is and always has been devoted to caring about people. We want to ensure you have the tools to know and understand how important trust in a marriage is for you and your spouse. Plus, we want to help other couples just like you. The best way we know how to do that is by spreading the word to more people and let them know that we are here.  Join us on social media. IG – MikeandSusanDawsonCo.  FB – MikeandSusanDawson


What do you think? What are a few ways you have practiced turning toward your spouse? We want to hear your stories. Send us a quick email and let us know. mike@MikeandSusanDawson.com