We heard this metaphor recently asked of a group. “Can you imagine what it would be like to go without food for weeks on end? Can you actually imagine yourself doing that? Depriving yourself of food is not something most of us ever consider doing. Of course we make time to eat, we’d die without it.” As everyone sat there quizzically wondering where in the world the presenter was going, she then dropped in the line, “well this is what it feels like when you don’t feed your primary relationship for weeks on end. You starve it to death.”
In a recent Huffington Post survey, of more than 1,000 Americans, revealed that 91% felt stressed in the month of March of this year. (Wait for it, this is relevant to the previous paragraph!). Their conclusion is that Americans are a population that feels “burdened and pressured”. We imagine that Canadian statistics are not far behind. Between work, housework, kids, family, friends and community activities we seem to be doing more, faster and with higher expectations.
There are a number of reasons why people forget or choose not to “feed” their relationship and certainly stress is one them. In the midst of the stress of life, our primary relationships tend to get short shifted when it comes to loving attention.
So recognizing that there are many, many calls on all of our time, recognizing that current food wisdom suggests multiple small meals a day, recognizing that our primary relationships are the single most important relationship to our overall health and happiness, here’s a suggested menu to nourish your relationship on a daily basis:
- Relationship Breakfast: A Kiss – Every morning as you are heading your separate ways, kiss your partner goodbye for at least 5-10 seconds. And don’t be afraid to offer more than one kiss. Prolonged kisses activate important hormones in the body that nourish your brain cells. And research has shown that men who kiss their partners when they leave for work live 5 years longer than men who don’t. Women also benefit although not to the same degree.
- Relationship mid-morning snack: An Appreciation – email or text your partner with a short note with one thing you appreciate about them. Appreciation is something we all love to receive so offer this gift to your partner each day.
- Relationship lunch: A Wondering – email or text a wondering about something you believe your partner has been doing this morning – “Thinking about you and wondering how the presentation went”, “Thinking about you and hoping you enjoyed having coffee with Andrew” – be curious. Notice that in order to do this you will need to have talked to your partner about their plans for the day! Being interested in each other’s lives is an important part of building the fabric of a strong relationship.
- Relationship mid-afternoon snack: An Anticipation – yes, another email or text! “I’m looking forward to hanging out with you at the kids soccer game tonight” “I know that tonight is a busy night and I am looking forward to crawling into bed with you at the end of it” “I know that you have a lot of work to do tonight and I am looking forward to enjoying both of us doing our own things in close proximity to each other”. You are taking interest in your partner and your life together – no matter how busy it may be.
- Relationship dinner: Reconnection – take the first 10 minutes of being back together to simply be with each other. No words are necessary and often times no words are best. Hug each other for at least 20 seconds. Again, it’s good for your health if for no other reason. Consider cuddling on the couch. This is a chance to decompress for the workday and so keep the words to a minimum.
- Relationship dessert: Face time – When it’s time for bed, whether you cuddle, debrief, plan, wonder or make love, always kiss each other good night!
The activities that grab our attention will in all likelihood continue for some time. We all need to make money to pay the bills, feed the kids and assist in creating the life style we want for ourselves and our family. Nourishing your intimate relationship on a daily basis builds a connection that can withstand the tests of time.
Here’s to your vibrant relationship!