Friendships are undeniably important to an individual’s health, longevity and wellbeing, but they can be equally important for the health and happiness of a couple. Just as a friend can provide a mirror to the self, another couple can provide a reflecting team that supports or impedes a relationship’s growth. Two Plus Two: Couples and Their Couple Friendships offers an important framework for helping couples to have conversations about their friendships with other couples and to enrich their own relationships. When couples agree about how to spend their time alone and with others, they are more likely to have a happy marriage or relationship.
Couple friendships have not been researched previously, despite their numerous benefits. Authors Geoffrey Greif and Kathleen Deal take an in-depth approach to this important topic. Based on interviews with more than 400 people--some of whom were interviewed with their partners, some who were interviewed alone, and some who have divorced--they find that couples fall into three general categories of making couple friendships: Seekers, Keepers, and Nesters. Drs. Greif and Deal discuss the different styles of interaction they've observed in couples as well as the findings from their research. Readings from their interviews illustrate what characteristics define Seekers, Keepers, and Nesters. Couples at any stage of their relationship will get a fresh understanding of how to seek, foster and sustain positive, healthy friendships.
Part I: Couples and their Couples' Friendships
Chapter 1: Introduction to the Book
Here the authors establish the importance of couples' friendships. They also describe how women and men's individual friendships operate, explore the marital relationship across the lifespan, and present their methodology.
Chapter 2: The Seeker Couple, the Keeper Couple, and the Nester Couple
Based on data analyzed from their interviews, the authors outline and group couples into three categories, depending on the importance of the couples' friendships and their reasons for pursing them.
Chapter 3: The Young Couple
This chapter will be particularly important reading for the newly formed couple who is struggling to understand how to balance their commitments to others as they forge a commitment to each other. Struggles with shifting roles for men and women are also addressed.
Chapter 4: The Middle-Aged Couple
Couples who have been together for 10 to 25 years will be the focus of this chapter. Some of the issues discussed are the entrenchment of interaction patterns, a lessening of focus on child rearing and career development, and what to do with increased leisure time.
Chapter 5: The Older Couple
This chapter will focus on couples who have been married 35 to 65 years and are over 60-years-old. Some issues touched upon include how to maintain friendships and create new ones, and what to do when one finds him or herself a widow or widower.
Chapter 6: Differences between Women and Men in Couples' Friendships
Here the authors will reveal what men and women say when they are interviewed alone, which differ greatly than when their partner is in the room. This chapter will clarify role expectations, but will also address feelings of being caught between loyalty to a spouse and loyalty to a friend.
Part II: Couples Who Work Harder at Couples' Friendships
Chapter 7: The Remarried Couple
When a couple is remarried, they carry the residue of their previous friendships and family involvements. They are also trying to establish an identity as a couple that is distinct from the identities they had in their previous marriage. This chapter discusses the challenges these couples encounter.
Chapter 8: The Inter-racial Couple
This chapter deals with the challenges these couples face. The inter-racial couple has been identified as struggling more than other couples in relation to "relationship marginalization," or being accepted by other couples. This idea will be expanded upon and back up with the authors' research.
Chapter 9: Like her; hate him: Couples who have been dumped by (or have dumped) the other couple
This chapter discusses the common phenomenon of liking one member of a couple and not the other. The authors will look at some age-old questions: How can I stay friends with him and avoid going out with his wife? Do you believe he said that during dinner? Why don't they return our calls? Is it us or them? Do you agree we will ignore them the time we see them?
Chapter 10: The Unique Benefits of Couples' Friendships
In this concluding chapter, the authors look at solutions to some of the problems raised by couples as they try to build their friendship network and also at the strengths of these friendships. They will also include specific suggestions for mental health practitioners and for researchers that arise from their preliminary findings.
"Dr. Greif and Dr. Deal have given couples everywhere a fascinating and helpful look at how these friendships evolve, why they are often so meaningful, and when to look out for land mines. It's a terrific read on a subject that often goes unaddressed." - Jeffrey Zaslow, Wall Street Journal columnist and author of The Girls from Ames, coauthor of The Last Lecture
"Making and keeping couple friends leads to happier lives. This amazing book provides insight into friendships and how to make them an asset, not a liability, for couples. Important reading for couples as well as therapists." - Jon Carlson, Governors State University, Illinois, USA
"With a pitch-perfect blend of scholarly research and wisdom, Drs. Greif and Deal have written the definitive guide to understanding and building satisfying couple friendships. Every couple and anyone even contemplating coupling should read this book." - Irene S. Levine, NYU School of Medicine, New York, USA and author of Best Friends Forever: Surviving a Breakup with Your Best Friend