I looked at my husband across the table the night that we had our friends over for dinner. I see what happens when we share our lives with others, as we talk about meaningful things and personal experiences with friends who really care about our lives, and we theirs. Friends with whom we can discuss anything with no fear. Instead of irrelevant blather, my husband and I grow together when we are with good friends. And we do actually feel closer to one another by the end of the night.

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Richard Slatcher, an assistant professor of psychology at Wayne State University who specializes in social and health psychology, has been married for almost 15 years. He and his wife have made close friends as a couple, and they feel that those friendships have enhanced their own union. Recent research in the journal Personal Relationships shows that dating couples who hang out with couple-friends wind up feeling closer to each other. They determined that not only did friendships blossom from chatting about stuff that matters, but couples indicated feeling more positive about their own relationships after befriending a new couple.

Now I realize this study says “dating” couples, but I feel this is for anyone … single, dating, or married.

We need each other and we can offer encouragement and strength to our relationships and friendships.

A stimulating time in conversation, yes! But the food was great, too, so I thought I’d share my menu with you:

Dinner Menu
This easy appetizer
Green salad with strawberries, toasted walnuts, avocado, and sweet onion
Three-Cheese Risotto
Sweet Maple Butternut Squash (recipe below)
Chicken with Goat Cheese, Basil and Balsamic Glaze

Sweet Maple Butternut Squash
Serves 8-10

2 pounds Buttnernut squash, peeled and cut into small cubes (1″ or smaller)
2 apples, peeled and cut into small cubes (1″ or smaller)

Place the squash and apples on a 1-inch deep baking sheet and cover with 2 Tablespoons of water. Roast at 400 for about 20 minutes, stirring often.

Combine 1/4 cup butter, 1/4 pure maple syrup, 1/2 tsp. salt, 1 tsp. cinnamon and 1 tsp. nutmeg together. Add in 1/2 cup pecans or walnuts. Right before serving add to the baked mixture and place back into the oven and roast another 10 minutes.

Our guests brought wine and dessert. My husband helped me in the kitchen about an hour before our friends arrived.

After this night of delicious food, really good heart-felt conversation, I’d say that we definitely feel closer to this couple, more so than we did before.

I’d love to hear your thoughts or experiences on this topic.

Do you believe that closeness with another couple while dining can deepen your marriage relationship?

Here’s a different version for Roasted Butternut Squash and Apple.