“And when you get married, the most important thing isn't being in love. It's making sure you marry your best friend. A partner – the person you want to share the good times, the s****y times, and everything in between with…”
— Author Emma Chase
A 2019 study, How's Life at Home? New Evidence on Marriage and the Set Point for Happiness , by Grover and Helliwell, and published in the Journal of Happiness Studies , found that those who marry are more satisfied than those who remain single; the benefits of marriage persist in the long-term; and those who are best friends with their partners have the largest well-being benefits from marriage and cohabitation. The well-being benefits of marriage were found on average to be about twice as large for those (about half of the sample studied) whose spouses were also their best friends.
This means that author Emma Chase's observation was spot on — the encouragement to not only marry for love, but to ensure that the person you choose is also your best friend.
Why is this important? The people below tell why being friends first is crucial in every marriage relationship, after some of them found out the hard way.
Monique, 52, married 30 years:
When the kids have left home and you're looking towards your golden years, you'll need a friend in your partner, trust me. Because if it's someone you dislike, or even hate deep down, those years that you have to spend alone with them will be horrible. I'm seeing several of my siblings go through this right now. Relationships are hard enough without having to worry that the person you're with doesn't even have your back. Be friends first, before anything else.
Anikka, 42, married seven years:
It's just the friendship that's keeping us afloat right now — that, and the mortgage and our kids. I've wanted to get out so many times, but I like my husband too much as a friend to cut ties. The fact is that we're so bad for each other, and when he annoys me I feel hatred to my core, but then it's easy to forgive him and continue, because he's my dearest friend. He's my friend even though there's no attraction anymore, and I long for passion with someone else. But the way I see it, both of us have nowhere going, because we're tied to each other through friendship and we don't want to lose that.
Tanisha, 37, married six years:
All the lust will fade after a few years, and then when life comes at you, it's good to have a partner that you can rely on. I can say that most times the passion is just not there, and we get tired of each other a lot, but we love and respect each other deep down, so no one can come between that.
Aloreen, 50, married three years:
This is my second marriage, I learnt after the first that there's no point in chasing good looks or good body or good in bed. Because all of that is just on the surface — it's what's in the heart that counts. My now husband was my deceased husband's driver, and a kinder man I've never met. He is humble, gentle, cares about me, and I can see a great future for us because we're so in tune with each other's feelings.
Stacy, 48, married 17 years:
I knew from the minute I said 'I do' that I made a mistake. But we had a baby in the oven and a couple others followed right after. By the time I blinked I had three babies under five, and the years after were just full of family stuff. My husband was never disrespectful, but we just don't connect at all. He does his thing, and I have my interests. The kids will all leave home soon, and I wonder what our lives will be like then, because we have nothing in common. We were talking about foster care the other day, so maybe we will do that, just to have some kids in the house to occupy our time when the other kids leave.