Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Couples' friendships make for happier marriages, relationships

January 13, 2012
University of Maryland Baltimore
A new book, "Two Plus Two: Couples and Their Couple Friendships," presents findings based on more than 400 interviews in which couples share experiences over the lifespan that readers can emulate to improve their own marriages.

While the value of friendship has been well established for individuals, little had been known about the impact of married couples' forming and keeping friendships with other couples. These relationships often make for happier marriages and also improve the bonds between adults who are unmarried partners, concludes a new book, "Two Plus Two: Couples and Their Couple Friendships."

Related Articles

Co-authors Geoffrey Greif, DSW, MSW, professor at the University of Maryland School of Social Work, and Kathleen Holtz Deal, PhD, MSW, associate professor at the School, have found that when couples agree on how they spend their time alone and with others, they are more likely to have a happy marriage or relationship. The book offers language that couples can use to talk with each other to find a balance that works for them.

The findings are based on interviews with 123 couples with both partners present, 122 individuals who were alone when questioned about their relationships, and 58 divorced individuals. To identify and interview subjects for the study, the professors began with the work of 58 master's students in an advanced research course and then interviewed more than 20 couples themselves. The stories of these couples, who remain anonymous, are highlighted in the book.

The research found differing motivations behind couples' friendships, with some people preferring to share emotions while others see the purpose as fun and recreation. The ways the friendships get started also vary, with the majority growing out of a typical friendship between two people that widens to encompass all four. Say the men were pals are work, or the women met at college and decided to see if their spouses might get along, too.

Deal, who has been married 43 years, says she was surprised to find that she and her husband were in the minority because they set out as a pair to make friends with other couples. They established friendships with a group of five other couples that have lasted for over 30 years. They have shared social events and vacations. "We can talk about anything we want to. We have shared sad times, and good times," she says, calling the group of friends, who met one another at church, "a huge influence on my life."

Greif says that he and his wife of 36 years "feel very comfortable" in their friendships with other couples and that work on the book has given him the "language to think about how couple friendships are begun and how they are maintained."

As the author of articles and books on family issues, Greif had previously studied men and their interactions for his 2009 book, "Buddy System: Understanding Male Friendships." He says a look at friendships among married adults seemed a logical next step. From the outset of the project over three years ago, the co-authors found very little had been written. "Regarding adult long-term relationships across the lifespan, this is it," says Greif.

Greif and Deal conclude that healthy couple friendships make a marriage more fulfilling and exciting for several reasons, such as increasing partners' attraction to each other, providing a greater understanding of men and women in general, and allowing partners to observe ways that other couples interact with each other and negotiate differences. However, they found that the topics of sex and money continue to be taboo even among friends.

Couples fall into one of three categories, according to how they approach their friendships with others, the research shows. Readers can ask their partners which one best fits their own profile as a twosome. Seekers? Keepers? Or Nesters? Greif and Deal describe seekers as extroverts who are often looking for another couple with whom to socialize. Keepers have full lives and many friends, and are not necessarily looking for more. Nesters tend to be introverts who have a small number of couple friends and are content with that.

Compromise is required when an introvert marries an extrovert, and a couple's outlook may change as life stages do. The content of "Two Plus Two" is organized across the lifespan, with chapters including, "The Middle Years: Couples Raising Families and Balancing Friendships," and "Older Couples and Their Couple Friendships." The oldest couples are now in their eighties and nineties.

Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Maryland Baltimore. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

Cite This Page:

University of Maryland Baltimore. "Couples' friendships make for happier marriages, relationships." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 13 January 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/01/120113211028.htm>.
University of Maryland Baltimore. (2012, January 13). Couples' friendships make for happier marriages, relationships. ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 29, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/01/120113211028.htm
University of Maryland Baltimore. "Couples' friendships make for happier marriages, relationships." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/01/120113211028.htm (accessed January 29, 2015).

Share This

More From ScienceDaily

More Mind & Brain News

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Signs You Might Be The Passive Aggressive Friend

Signs You Might Be The Passive Aggressive Friend

BuzzFeed (Jan. 28, 2015) "No, I&apos;m not mad. Why, are you mad?" Video provided by BuzzFeed
Powered by NewsLook.com
City Divided: A Look at Model Schools in the TDSB

City Divided: A Look at Model Schools in the TDSB

The Toronto Star (Jan. 27, 2015) Model schools are rethinking how they engage with the community to help enhance the lives of the students and their parents. Video provided by The Toronto Star
Powered by NewsLook.com
Man Saves Pennies For 65 Years

Man Saves Pennies For 65 Years

Rooftop Comedy (Jan. 26, 2015) A man in Texas saved every penny he found for 65 years, and this week he finally cashed them in. Bank tellers at Prosperity Bank in Slaton, Texas were shocked when Ira Keys arrived at their bank with over 500 pounds of loose pennies stored in coffee cans. After more than an hour of sorting and counting, it turned out the 81 year-old was in possession of 81,600 pennies, or $816. And he&apos;s got more at home! Video provided by Rooftop Comedy
Powered by NewsLook.com
How Technology Is Ruining Snow Days For Students

How Technology Is Ruining Snow Days For Students

Newsy (Jan. 25, 2015) More schools are using online classes to keep from losing time to snow days, but it only works if students have Internet access at home. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.


Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News


Free Subscriptions

Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile

Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?

Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins