@Gement vriend/vriendin means unmarried partner/boyfriend/girlfriend (for adults) vriendje/vriendinnetje means boyfriend/girlfriend (for teens), echtgenoot/echtgenote means "the person you share your marriage with", which is used for married people. Usually people say man/vrouw when married.
You should try Arabic or Hebrew ;) And you're doing it wrong if it hurts that badly. Take the advice given to singers. Stay hydrated, don't eat hard crunchy food before trying to speak Dutch, and practice different techniques until it doesn't hurt anymore. I speak German, Dutch, Swedish and Hebrew, and it doesn't bother my throat in the slightest.
Yes, the e at the end of echtgenote is not silent, so compared to echtgenoot it has an extra sound at the end: the unstressed e or schwa, you can find some examples here: http://www.heardutchhere.net/DutchPronunciation.html#voicelessE
Bride = bruid, and someone is only a bride on their wedding day: https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/bride