Self-care is key for our spiritual, emotional and physical health. You probably partake in a variety of nourishing habits every day — from the bare essentials of taking a shower and brushing your teeth to getting enough sleep, exercising and meditating.
The same is true for relationships: They require daily care to stay healthy.
It’s important for couples to nourish their relationships on a regular basis. But this doesn’t mean sweeping, dramatic acts. The seemingly small stuff counts, and it goes a very long way.
In his book Emotional Fitness for Couples, psychotherapist Barton Goldsmith, Ph.D, shares simple ways couples can stay in shape and become closer and stronger every day.
Here are eight ideas from his helpful book.
1. Create a special, secret way to say “I love you.”
According to Goldsmith, saying “I love you” creates a safe and secure space. Think about how you can make this a unique ritual. In the book he features an example of a happily married couple who texts each other “111” and “111-2” to signify “I love you.”
2. Engage in random acts of love.
Goldsmith suggests each partner make a list of loving acts you’d like the other to perform, such as a backrub or breakfast in bed. Exchange your lists, and aim to do something from your partner’s list once a week.
3. Go to bed together.
“Sleeping together is one of the most important parts of a relationship,” Goldsmith writes. Even if you have different schedules, this can be done. Goldsmith gives an example of a couple who always go to bed together, even though she goes to bed at 8:30 p.m. and he gets his best ideas at night. They lay together until she falls asleep. Then he reads, writes or gets up and watches TV. Goldsmith suggests creating a bedtime routine, which might include anything from reading from a fave book together to snuggling while watching TV.
4. Do romantic deeds.
“If you want to express your romantic feelings to someone you love, do something, anything, rather than nothing,” Goldsmith writes. Romance doesn’t need to be a grand getaway. Again, small totally counts. For instance, he explains that one flower tends to have the same effect as a bouquet. He suggests talking to each other about what you find romantic and creating a romance “wish list,” which you can exchange.
5. Make yourself happy.
Partners are not responsible for each other’s happiness. As Goldsmith says, “Happiness is an inside job.” Thinking otherwise can chip away at your relationship. One way to be happier is to keep a gratitude journal. Goldsmith suggests jotting down five things you’re grateful for every night and reading it in the morning. If you’re not sure what makes you happy, ask your partner. They usually notice what contributes to your joy.
6. Take time for yourself.
A healthy relationship isn’t all-consuming, either. It shouldn’t make up your entire life, Goldsmith says. He suggests spending time alone to rediscover yourself — taking solo trips, for instance — and recording your own goals, desires and plans.
7. Chat about change.
Change is inevitable. Our lives change. We change. Our relationships change. Goldsmith suggests talking with your partner about how you’d like to deal with change so you’re better prepared. For instance, you might discuss what to do if one of you loses your job, he says.
8. Spend a few minutes connecting.
Goldsmith suggests the following exercise to cultivate a deeper connection, which takes just a few minutes: Hold each other’s hands, look into each other’s eyes and remember what you love about each other. He also suggests doing this before having important conversations.
Learn more about Barton Goldsmith, Ph.D, and his work at his website.
How do you keep your
relationship emotionally fit?