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martin and dana

Self-Care Is Good But “Couple-Care” Is What Your Relationship Needs.

One of my favorite books is by Dr. Sue Johnson, founder of Emotionally Focused Therapy (“EFT”) called “Hold Me Tight.” At its core, EFT helps couples to gain a deeper understanding of the emotional attachment and healthy dependency through nurturing, soothing, and protection.

One key EFT lesson that Dana and I embrace increases emotional intimacy by practicing non-confrontational conversations. The secret to a successful conversation begins with a willingness to listen first, pause, and then respond with simple, straightforward words that describe how we’re feeling from a neutral place energetically.

This style of conversation enhances and deepens the connection with our partner by eliminating the confrontational fight or flight response by replacing it with language that acknowledges our partner. The benefits are enormous as we let our partner know that we’re truly there for them emotionally, mentally, and physically.

The challenge that many couples face, including us, is that we’re constantly bombarded by social media misleadingly showcasing individuals and couples “living” the high life. Combine this with the personal and professional demands placed upon us daily, and it’s no wonder that most days, we’re lucky to simply navigate our respective responsibilities without experiencing complete exhaustion or mental breakdown.

In theory, most of us are aware that “self-care” is a necessity for being able to show up as the best version of ourselves and for those around us. Far too often, we neglect our own wellbeing to serve those around us. Whether with our loved ones, friends, or colleagues at work, we’re consistently stretched to our max and often past our breaking point. We’re left feeling depleted and our relationships suffer.

Relationship integrity demands much more than simply the scraps we have available to our partner at the end of the day or work week. Add children to the mix and its no wonder that divorce statistics remain at or above 50% for first-time marriages. Noted research professor, Dr. Brené Brown speaks more succinctly to this relationship dilemma when she remarks, “Integrity is choosing courage over comfort; choosing what is right over what is fun, fast or easy; and choosing to practice our values rather than simply professing them.”

Couple-Care picks up where self-care leaves off in our intimate relationships. This requires the “active” participation of both partners to be successful. The “love bank account” benefits are exponential as a couple creates a new focus on “us” and not just on the individual.


Fun Fantasy Ritual

This is vitally important for a couple for as the saying goes, there is no “I” in team and couple-care provides a warm nurturing security blanket for our primary love relationship.

Couple-care does not require grand overtures or gestures as much as a desire to continue in building a strong bond of connection to enhance your relationship. It’s finding the ways you and your partner can go the distance while still enjoying each other’s company and having fun along the way!

Case in point, the annual Gallup poll named Barack and Michelle Obama the Most Admired Couple for 2018. The former President and First Lady have been married for 26 years and Michelle recently remarked, “Twenty-five years later, we’re still having fun, while also doing the hard work to build our partnership and support each other as individuals. I can’t imagine going on this wild ride with anybody else.”

Here are 3 Couple-Care Tips to bring to your relationship immediately to see and experience deeper connection, joy, and fun:

Tip 1. Know and practice your love language.

We know from experience that Gary Chapman’s 5 Love Languages Quiz is the first step in practicing couple-care and the reason is simple. By knowing our respective love language and that of our partner, we’re able to consciously demonstrate and engage our partner in those specific love style elements. Dana and I share the same Love Language of Words of Affirmation. We unequivocally know how to compliment each other and that adds significantly to our love bank account. When a couple consistently showers each other with the attributes of their respective love language, couple-care is significantly enhanced.

Tip 2. Create bonding rituals.

We have a few bonding rituals that have greatly increased our couple-care practice. In the morning, we take turns where one of us goes and makes coffee while the other makes the bed. Not only does this leverage time and task, but it brings a big smile to each of us, as we know that teamwork makes the dream work! Find rituals that are meaningful to you and your partner and start a new habit today where you’ll dramatically increase your couple-care by implementing this simple yet meaningful practice for your relationship.

Tip 3. Add mystery, surprise, and adventure to your relationship monthly.

Couple-care should not be perceived as another duty or chore. Rather, the practice provides simple ways to enhance your relationship by acknowledging our individual needs while incorporating new elements to maximize our connection and happiness. We all know that making time with our significant other is vitally important for the vibrancy of our relationship.

The importance of date nights and their relationship enhancements are well documented. The added ingredient of “novelty” that replaces the traditional “dinner and a movie” with something new and exciting is where mystery, surprise, and adventure for date nights is brought center stage. We’re advocates of “doing dates” that embrace new activities and places that you and your partner haven’t experienced together.

I know that by following these simple steps, you and your partner will experience a whole new level of passion, romance, and fun in your relationship!

Here’s to being the happiest couple you know!