As Valentine's Day rolls around, it is important to remember that a couple's relationship is enhanced by a friendship with another couple. In our2012 book, Two Plus Two: Couples and their Couple Friendships, Kathleen Holtz Deal and I write about how being with another couple that you like is value added to your own relationship. If their relationship is a healthy and loving one, it can encourage you to a healthier and more loving relationship with your own partner. When you see your friends hold hands, it encourages you to hold hands. When you see your friends compliment each other about some accomplishment or quality in their partner, it encourages you to compliment your partner. When a door is opened for a partner, a special meal is cooked, or a tie is straightened, love is shown. That context of love, expressed by another couple and observed by you, can have a powerful and positive influence. (Obviously observing loving behavior in another couple can also point out to some couples what they are lacking in their relationship but, because this blog is related to Valentine's Day, I am focsuing on the positives.)
Learning from other couples spills over into other venues. When you hear how another couple is taking care of an aging parent or a struggling child, you are provided with ideas about how to cope with any issues you may be having. Witnessing such successful coping with family issues (what the other couple did and how they talk to each other about what they did) and trying out their solutions and problem-solving approaches can further strengthen your relationship.
Finding time to be with another couple is not always easy. Couples have to balance time alone for just the couple with the demands of work, time for individual friends, time for children and family, and time for the individuals in the couple to be alone. Communication about these demands and how to balance them is a natural starting point for all couples.
So, this Valentine's Day, consider spending it with another couple whose relationship you admire - it might be a way to continue to strengthen your own relationship.