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Couples’ friendships offer benefits, research finds

Updated: February 12, 2012 8:04AM

Long-term friendships between couples offer each couple “a role model for how you can manage your ups and downs,” new research finds.

Such friendships are hard to maintain among four people, but, when they work, they are a relationship plus, according to Geoffrey Greif and Kathy Deal, authors of the new book Two Plus Two: Couples and Their Couple Friendships (Routledge, $21.95).

“Being close with another couple and watching how they manage their ups and downs is a role model for how you can manage your ups and downs,” says Greif, who’s been married 36 years and, like and Deal — married 43 years — is a social work professor at the University of Maryland at Baltimore.

“Some couples said, ‘When I see my husband or wife with other people, it really makes me appreciate them in a different way. I see how charming or thoughtful they are or what a sparkling conversationalist they are,’ ” says Deal. “It makes them feel very positive about their partner.”

The authors interviewed heterosexual individuals 21 and older who have been living in a romantic relationship at least one year, including 123 couples in which both partners were present, 122 individuals who are part of a couple and 58 who had been divorced.

Couple relationships are complicated, Deal suggests. “You have, first of all, the relationship couple-to-couple — all four people,” she says. “Then, you have the relationship between people of the same gender. Then, as a married woman, you have a chance to have a close, but not physically close, relationship with another man you might not have otherwise.”

Still, sexual attraction among friends can be a problem. The authors asked participants about “sexual tension.”

In their couples research, though, the authors found sexual attraction was rare.

Gannett News Service

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