Have you ever considered practicing self-care with a partner? I know this sounds like an oxymoron since the whole point of self-care is doing the things you need to do to feel healthier, happier, and less stressed. It’s putting yourself first and recognizing that it’s not selfish, but self-preservation when you focus for a while on your own needs.
Although self-care is generally something we do by ourselves, it doesn’t mean that it’s not a good idea to carve out times when you can engage in self-care activities with your partner—actions that can benefit both of you. Participating in self-care for two can be an important part in a healthy and resilient relationship.
Couple’s Care may be a better name as it means doing things together that aid in strengthening your relationship and help you to reconnect with your partner. Couple’s care shouldn’t take the place of self-care but supplement it.
According to the husband and wife team Nyaima and Fredrick of Art & Alchemy, some of the benefits of couple’s care include greater intimacy, better communication, enhanced physical wellbeing, stronger feelings of trust, improved bonding, and can help repair issues that you’re experiencing within the relationship.
Although, couple’s care is something that’s done together it still can benefit the two of you as individuals since it promotes personal growth, helps manage expectations between partners, and broadens the definition of intimacy in a relationship.
If you feel as if the spark that first brought you together is waning, couple’s care can help you rekindle it.
Couple’s care is a broad term and can be whatever it is that you want it to be. You’re free to set up your own ways of doing what suits you and your partner best. What works for you may not work for another couple and that’s okay. It’s a practice that’s easily achievable, balanced, enjoyable, and best of all it’s known to enhance self-care—not take away from it.
Here are 14 ways you can practice couple’s care so you both get what you need from it.
One of the mysteries of the universe is how challenging it can be to switch off our devices and just be present with each other. However, the rewards are great when you’re able to give your full attention to another person without being distracted by calls, messages, texts, and emails.
Talk about your dreams and goals together:
When you say out loud to another person what it is you want to achieve in the future, it helps to make sure the two of you are working together on your long-range goals, and, also, solidifies how you both see your life together in the future. By sharing your dreams with your partner, you become accountable and it’s not so easy to brush them off. You both become more dedicated to accomplishing what you set off to do, and you have someone who’s not only aware of what you want but who has a vested interest in you achieving it. Saying your dreams out loud helps cement them for both of you and turns your partner into your biggest supporter and vice versa.
Go out in nature:
There’s something healing about breathing fresh air, observing natural beauty, and experiencing nature. Spending time looking at trees, watching waves, or picnicking in a field helps reduce stress, lower blood pressure, improves memory, and enhances one’s mood. Being out in nature helps to give us perspective on our place in the world.
When you prepare a meal or snack with your partner, you are doing something that involves all the senses and improves the way that you work together. Divide the jobs such as buying the ingredients, doing the prep work, cooking, and cleanup. De’Nicea Hilton says, “Coming together without any distractions is a beautiful time for them [the couple] to just “be” and fully embrace what they created together.” Your food will be extra delicious because it’s something you made together.
Listen to music:
When we listen to music, we not only relax but we feed our souls as well. Some of the benefits of just kicking back and grooving to some tunes are that music helps relieves pain, boosts creativity, increases your ability to concentrate, and aids you in having a better night’s sleep. If you and your partner have similar tastes you can bond over the shared love of a certain artist or genre, and if you don’t, you can help the other understand why it matters to you.
Couples massages are a great way to work out the kinks of your body and spend some quality time with your partner. “Couples massages are a thing and couples can also go into a steam room together,” Licensed psychologist and neurotherapist Dr. Catherine Jackson says. “Couples strengthen their bond as they talk and connect while both get some much-needed relaxing self-care that will leave them looking and feeling better.”
Take a walk together:
One of the easiest and least expensive activities that you can do together is one of the best. “It may seem too simple, but making a walk part of your daily routine with your partner will not only bring the two of you closer, but it will also help you to talk about things you may have forgotten about,” says Adina Mahalli (MSW).
Have a cleansing bath:
Taking a bath with your partner doesn’t isn’t always a prelude to sex. Being in the tub together can focus more on having innocent fun, relaxing, and decompressing after a long day. A warm bath can help those tense muscles to unwind and get you clean at the same time.
Exercising helps you to work out your frustrations and aggravations that have built up over time. One bonus is that working out with a partner can increase your enjoyment and help you achieve your fitness goals. “One great way to practice self-care is through movement and physical activity. Often we equate this to a rigorous exercise regime, but a great way to move with your partner is to try something new,” says Kristina Ferrari. There are so many options such as trapeze, paddleboard, pickleball, hiking, dance, or boxing. “You can collaborate and connect with your partner in all these activities while moving your body and getting your heart rate up,” suggests Ferrari. “Plus, if you’re new to these things, you will find encouraging one another is a great emotional boost.”
The more love you have for other living creatures, the more love you have to give. So, take the dog for a walk, pet your cat, or show some affection to your iguana. According to an article on Refinery 29, people with strong bonds to their pets have higher self-esteem. And you know what RuPaul says, “If you can’t love yourself, how in the hell you gonna love somebody else?” So, love your pets, love your partner, and be sure to love yourself!
Take a nap:
Is there anything better than naptime with your partner, especially when the weather is just right and there’s a small breeze? Couple retreat leader Dr. Wyatt Fisher says, “Those who nap regularly significantly reduce their risk of heart disease, so sharing an afternoon siesta together is a wonderful activity that will replenish and bond you closer together.”
Plan a vacation:
I find that planning a vacation—even one that I probably won’t go on is an excellent way to lift my mood and help me to de-stress. When you make travel plans with a partner, you both can have fun imagining the details of your fantasy or future vacation. “Taking vacations is a proven way to relax and unwind, and spending those with your partner is good for the both of you,” says Celia Schweyer. “Traveling to another country, area, or city pulls you out of your everyday life and lets the two of you gather new experiences together. Shared experiences help strengthen the bond between two people and comes along with shared emotions: Excitement, joy, curiosity, happiness. Even just planning your next getaway gives you both something to look forward to.”
Every day there is more evidence of the benefits of meditation: It soothes the mind, helps you find inner balance, and helps release any pent-up negative emotions. Meditation helps you center yourself, and when you and your partner do it together, helps to put you both on the same page and increases the compassion and understanding you have for each other.
Gratitude has the power to help you focus on the positives in your life, change the way you interact with the world, and improve your relationship. “Gratitude is underused in our society. Too often we focus too much on the negative, what is not happening in our lives and what our partner is not doing,’ says Dr. Catherine Jackson. “Research suggests thinking of things you are grateful for has a positive impact on how we feel and behave.”
Self-care doesn’t always have to be a solo activity. When you engage in self-care with a partner, it helps you to reconnect and to build a stronger relationship. Couple’s care doesn’t have to be huge undertakings, nor do you have to spend a lot of money—sometimes the simplest acts of care are the most effective.