Building A Friendship With Your Spouse

How important is friendship between couples?

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How important is friendship between couples?

As an award-winning relationship coach, I’ve witnessed the pivotal role friendship plays in fostering connection and enhancing intimacy within marriage. That’s one reason why my wife Victoria and I include it in our Thrive program for couples.

The Gottman Institute underscores the pivotal role of friendship as the foundation of a strong and lasting relationship. According to their research, successful couples are both romantic partners and best friends, sharing mutual respect, trust, admiration, and genuine enjoyment of each other’s company.

Through extensive studies, the Institute asserts that nurturing friendship fosters greater emotional intimacy, facilitates effective communication, and enhances overall relationship satisfaction.

In this article, I explore five ways to strengthen friendship within relationships, drawing inspiration from the experiences of one of our clients Fatima and Dawud.

By examining these strategies, I aim to provide couples with insights and practical approaches to enrich their friendship, paving the way for a more fulfilling relationship.

1. Cultivate Daily Sharing

Share daily experiences with your partner to help foster connection and understanding

Fatima and Dawud are a young couple who don’t yet have children (they have been trying for 5 years). They have busy lives as professionals and making time for connection every evening had to be intentional. They were instructed to allocate dedicated time to exchange daily experiences, encompassing triumphs and challenges.

Each evening, Fatima and Dawud observed a ritual of sharing the highs and lows of their day during their evening meal. This routine served as a way to facilitate a ‘prescribed connection’ amid their busy lives.

Through their committed practice, Fatima and Dawud have not only gained deeper insight into each other’s daily experiences but have also nurtured heightened levels of empathy, fostering a profoundly supportive home environment in their relationship.

2. Embrace Active Listening

Practice listening attentively to your partner and demonstrate genuine engagement

Whilst Dawud and Fatima have demanding roles and oftentimes bring their work home, it was crucial that they didn’t let that interfere with their ability to give full attention and energy to each other as a couple. Life Coach Guru Tony Robbins says: ‘wherever attention goes, energy flows’. This is such a pertinent statement for couples.

If you’re sat with your spouse and your attention is on meeting a deadline at work instead of them, then you will be preoccupied, energetically, on your project. This will potentially make them feel unrecognized and over time, disconnected.

We have empowered Dawud and Fatima by developing their active listening skills, so that they both feel heard and validated. Moreover, they feel that they are with a partner whom they can share their concerns with, who listens with empathy, is attentive, actively engages, and extends support to bolster emotional connection.

Active listening requires giving your full and undivided attention to your spouse when needed.

3. Establish Rituals of Connection

Create meaningful rituals to strengthen your relationship and enhance intimacy

Fatima and Dawud partake in a Saturday morning tradition of preparing breakfast together. They both agree that it is the most rewarding start to their weekend with dedicated moments of connection, fostering a heightened sense of unity, cultivating stability and enhancing intimacy.

Whatever ritual you decide, remember that it does not have to be the ‘ritual of rituals’; establish a ritual that you know can be sustained in the long-term. And that doesn’t mean you can’t have several! Perhaps you start out trying several and decide you prefer one or two above others.

4. Pursue Mutual Enjoyment

Engage in shared activities to deepen your bond and create lasting memories

Whilst engaging in activities that you both enjoy will give you the satisfaction of taking part in a shared pastime, it will also help you to share experiences as a couple, strengthen your bond, heighten the sense of togetherness and create lasting memories, insha’Allah. This is key to strengthening your friendship as a couple that will pay back dividends in the long term.

Acknowledging their mutual fondness for nature, our couple Fatima and Dawud schedule a monthly hiking excursion. This endeavor not only promotes their physical well-being but also affords quality time, fun and enjoyment for the couple.

5. Express Appreciation

Express appreciation to your partner by acknowledging their positive actions

The Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, spoke about appreciation of others in a beautiful way that has a poignant reminder for couples wishing to enhance their friendship:

The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, is reported to have said: “Whoever does not thank people has not thanked Allah.”

Conveying thankfulness through verbal affirmations to those close to us can become quite ‘routine’ and eventually a habit. Next time you want to thank your spouse, look them directly in the eyes and say: ‘I appreciate everything you do for me’.

Appreciating your spouse can take other forms. Fatima and Dawud are part of our Weekly Sparks programmemeticulously crafted weekly surprise activities designed to ignite passion, foster connection, and invigorate a couple’s relationship journey.

Dawud’s activity one week was to leave a note for Fatima on the bathroom mirror as a surprise one morning. The carefully written note expressed gratitude for Fatima’s daily contributions. This simple yet thoughtful gesture fosters a climate of positivity and support within their relationship.

In building a culture of appreciation, couples can learn from John Gottman’s research, which emphasizes the importance of frequently acknowledging each other’s positive actions.

By noticing and appreciating the small gestures, couples can cultivate mutual warmth and affection, strengthening their bond.

Dr. Gottman explains how to build a culture of appreciation: “Notice what your partner is doing right. Catch your partner in the act of doing good stuff!”


Nurturing friendship within a relationship is a journey that demands dedication and intentional effort. By embracing the strategies outlined above and committing to fostering a deeper connection with your partner, you can lay the foundations for a relationship that thrives through life’s challenges.

Let Fatima and Dawud’s story inspire you to embark on your journey of strengthening friendship in your relationship.

May your bond endure the trials of time, thriving with love and understanding, as you remain steadfast in your devotion to draw nearer to Allah. Ameen.