Don Paglia | Marriage and Family Counseling. Constellations Workshops


“I didn’t marry you because you were perfect. I didn’t even marry you because I loved you. I married you because you gave me a promise. That promise made up for your faults. And the promise I gave you made up for mine. Two imperfect people got married and it was the promise that made the marriage. And when our children were growing up, it wasn’t a house that protected them; and it wasn’t our love that protected them–it was that promise.”  

― Thornton Wilder, The Skin of Our Teeth


“It is not a lack of love, but a lack of friendship that makes unhappy marriages.”

– Friedrich Nietzsche

There are a lot of reasons to get married; love, the tax break, or even the having some certainty live out an idea of how one’s life should go. Another is the desire to commit to your best friend (“best friends forever”) publically that you will be with him or her forever, no matter what. Science has proven that when it comes to having a fulfilling life, it’s this part about being best friends that matters the most.

Recent studies have substantial evidence on marriage satisfaction and happiness regarding a Set Point for Happiness. One main finding is that individuals who consider their spouse to be their best friend are more satisfied with their lives overall. Twice as satisfied, as it turns out.

”     Those who are best friends with their partners have the largest well-being benefits from marriage and cohabitation, the research now tells us. The wellbeing benefits of marriage are on average are about twice as large for those whose spouse is also their best friend.” About half of the individuals studied told that their partner is their best friend; half didn’t. Of married couples interviewed, 53 percent of men listed their spouse as their best friend, while 43 percent of women did. Of unmarried but cohabiting couples, the percentages were 48 percent for men and 44 percent for women. The scientists then looked at age, gender, income, health status, and previous life satisfaction, and concluded that when you marry your best friend, you’re far more satisfied.

When deciding on a mate for life, people tend to place a lot of emphasis on a wide variety of factors. These are some of the common ones:

  • Is s/he educated enough?
  • Does s/he make enough money?
  • Do we have similar values?
  • Do I get along with his/her parents?
  • Do we know how to fight well?
  • Does s/he make me laugh? Is s/he reliable?

These are all useful things, but what science is really saying is that if you want a fulfilling partnership and satisfying life, there’s one question to add to the list that should arguably be put at the top:

  • Is s/he my best friend?

As we know, or hope to be the case, a best friend has your back; he/she supports your dreams and aspirations. A best friend is someone you are able call anytime, anywhere, without feeling like they’ll resent you for it. A best friend is that person you put as an emergency contact; it’s the first person you think about when something wonderful happens at work. They know all your quirks and, while may get irritated by such quirkiness, they love you anyway. A best friend can challenge you in deep ways because they know the ins and outs of your psyche, and, again, love you anyway. They’re the kind of person who steps up and who’ll take care of you in times of need – make soup and draw you a bath when you’re sick, even if they’re busy, press you to see a doctor, because they genuinely want you to feel better.

This is what you ought to keep in mind if you’re looking for a way to examine the status of your current or future romantic relationship. If you’re already married to your bff, then this is cause for celebration, and certainly some heart-felt gratitude. Maybe you never thought about this before, or could articulate it this way, but it does prove what you’ve known all along: you live a happier, healthier, richer life because of that gorgeous, flawed, sometimes grumpy, often generous, always interesting, perfectly imperfect person you chose to marry. And it you are seeking marriage get busy finding a best friend – which usually means by being a best friend, and then building a life upon this friendship.

Don Paglia