Why marrying your best friend is a better idea than ever

Jan 12, 2015 at 12:30 p.m. ET

When I stood at the altar to marry my husband almost 12 years ago, I remember the woman marrying us telling us that "love is friendship caught on fire." Now, new research shows us that marriage is supposed to be exactly that: best friendship.

The information comes from a new study from National Bureau of Economic Research in Canada, and used combined data from the British Household Panel Survey, the United Kingdom's Annual Population Survey and the Gallup World Poll. This study is different than others in that it looked at both marital satisfaction and pre-marital satisfaction. It turns out married people are happier. And the happiest people of all are those who married their best friends.

To this I say: Duh. I could have told them this years ago.

My husband and I were both in (bad) relationships when we became friends. We'd known each other as kids and been friends then, but when we re-met, 400 miles from our home, our friendship deepened. Soon I was at his house playing pool on a regular basis and talked to him all the time. He was the first person I wanted to call with news and the last person I wanted to talk to at night. That's right. Talk. Eventually we wanted to do other things as well. We were insanely attracted to each other, too. But that attraction came from our friendship.

My husband is my best friend, it's true. But he's also so much more. And that is exactly what makes people happy in marriage, this study says.

Because it's not the easy, happy, early times in marriage that make it the most supportive and lovely. It is the times when life is the hardest, when things get rough and you need support. This study found that the "honeymoon phase" is not what keeps people happy, but rather the long-term support through middle-age issues like aging parents and other life stressors. Moreover, those who thought they married their best friend also reported that their overall life happiness was that much greater.

As I said: Duh.

Marry for love. Marry for lust. Marry for all the physical reasons, too. But marry the person you can most imagine talking all night with and you'll stay married forever.

Are you married to your best friend?

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