I like to study relationship theories. My favorite is the Triangular Theory of Love which was developed by Robert Sternberg. It postulates that there are three factors in a marital type of relationship. It helps to decipher the causes of marital fighting and where the relationship can improve. Children feel more secure when family bonds are strong.
The Triangular Theory of Love Diagram:
Intimacy in this case means friendship, closeness, sharing emotions and intimate details
Passion means sexual attraction and romance
Commitment means the decision to stay in the relationship
This graph shows different combinations of intimacy, passion and commitment.
I think that the greatest of the three factors is friendship. It is being loyal and supportive. It is being helpful. It is truly caring about and listening to what the other person is going through. It is feeling safe when sharing true thoughts and feelings with each other; ie: intimacy. Good friends try really hard not to hurt each other. There is no room for criticizing and bitterness in a great friendship. One person can be a great friend even if the other is not. My husband has taught me how to be a better friend. :-)
The next important factor is commitment. When times are rough, it helps to be completely committed to sticking together. There was a study where couples who claimed to be unhappy were surveyed five years later. Like 90% of them who stayed together now claimed to be happy. Weathering storms together can make a couple stronger.
With a deep appreciation of the friendship and strong commitment to each other, the third factor usually falls into place naturally.
I once heard a quote from an elderly woman celebrity who had been married a few times. She said the worst thing is to reach the end of your life and realize you have no one to say, "Remember when..." with.
I feel so lucky to have so many memories with my best friend husband!