Part One: Self Care
Whether you’ve just begun dating, are in the height of life and raising children together, or are easing into your golden years, your relationship requires nourishment. Marriage is not only a commitment; it is a living, breathing, entity which you must choose to sow the seeds of in order for it to grow and thrive.
To nourish your relationship, you must first nourish yourself. We all know the adage that you must first secure your oxygen mask before assisting others, but is this how we are living each day? Do you take time, even small moments, to feed your mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual health?
The takeaway: we cannot truly take care of, love, and support those in our lives if we are not doing so for ourselves.
You may be thinking, “easier said than done”, or “I don’t have time for me, I have to take care of…”. I am not telling you to pack your bags and leave the family behind while you’re on a tropical vacation, what I do want you to understand is that self-care is easier than you know, can be incorporated in small doses throughout each day, and will change your health, life, and relationships.
Each day as we plow through our various routines and to-do’s, what we may fail to consider, is that our martyrdom and lack of self-care hurts no one more than it hurts ourselves. One instance where this can be painfully clear is in our relationships. When we go and do too much for everyone around us, it can have a detrimental effect that reaches far beyond the circumstances in that moment. Lagging resentment, scattered thinking, and a constantly elevated stress-level that mimics a 24-hour adrenaline rush leaving us running on empty.
While we feel like we are doing everything we can to serve others, we are inadvertently stealing from ourselves and those we love most by not nourishing ourselves. Much like a car that can’t function without gas, we can only run on fumes for so long before systems begin to fail.
The burden begins to manifest within us both physically-with aches, pains, poor sleep, dwindling libido, and more, and mentally-losing our temper, miscommunicating feelings, lacking sympathy and empathy, feeling unappreciated and overwhelmed.
You don’t want to be around someone like that and certainly don’t want to be someone like that.
The first step in nourishing your relationship is nourishing yourself.
If you’re ready to start taking care of yourself, even if it’s so you can better care for others, here are a few things to keep in mind:
-This may take some getting used to: you haven’t done it in a while and, like most things, being out of practice means you’ll need to work at it a little harder at first. It will get easier, and become second nature, with time
– Just say “no”: you likely haven’t done this for a long time, if ever, but you must establish boundaries. Consider your time, energy, and mental health when you’re asked to help out. If it’s too much, just say “no”, your loved ones will understand
-Reconnect with those you love: whether it’s a quiet moment alone with your partner, laughing with your kids, or calling an old friend, make a point to spend quality time with the people you value and those who value you
-Sit back, relax, and enjoy the downtime with no pressure
-Do what’s relaxing for you: not everyone loves bubble baths or finds reading relaxing. The key to self-care is that it’s about you. Do what brings you peace
-Make an appointment with yourself: make your self-care time consistent. Many people find it easier to keep their self-care time on track by keeping it on their schedule…literally
-Recruit support: those around you who value and appreciate you will support you getting the quiet time you need to recharge. Recruit your supporters to help hold you accountable for following through on something that’s good for you
Self-Care-it’s easier than you think…
Part Two: Connection with your Partner
It may seem like so long ago that it was a different life, but there once was a time that you and your spouse were so connected mentally, physically, and emotionally that you could communicate without saying a word…maybe you were in a crowded room, you made eye contact, and you could tell that your partner was saying “let’s get out of here”. Or maybe you had a rough day at work and your spouse came home, quietly held you in their arms, and the simplicity of their hug made everything else melt away. If you still are still experiencing this in your life, fantastic-keep nourishing that love!
The truth is, the “honeymoon” phase passes, life throws curveballs, and our relationships tend to be put on the backburner, expected to run in autopilot. As the exhilaration of a new relationship begins to dwindle, we must thoughtfully take time to grow our relationships through conversation, physical intimacy, and quality time dedicated to our partners. While the new-love butterflies may simmer, there’s something much more meaningful waiting to be cherished-navigating a lifetime of ups and downs, making memories, creating traditions, supporting each other, and growing together.
Sow the seeds of the relationship you both deserve.
Use these suggestions to come together, heal old wounds, appreciate where you are as a couple, and develop new tools for nourishing your relationship both now and in the future.
Acceptance-he’s always leaving his clothes in the floor…she’s always leaving the lights on…regardless of whether it’s a habit, a viewpoint, or the way they dress, try to practice acceptance and gratitude for the person your partner is. The goal is to love and accept a person for who and where they are, not to force them to conform to who you would like them to be. Encourage growth, not conformity.
Balance–congruence in your beliefs, values, and goals. To create balance in your relationship you must first find personal balance. Take the time to really reflect on what is important to you, this will change throughout the seasons of your life, and communicate openly and often with your spouse about these values. One of the strongest glues that holds happy couples together is shared values. Aligning spiritually and emotionally through common values and beliefs, setting goals and working towards them together, and celebrating your growth-both individually and as a couple, nourishes your relationships growth as time passes.
Create Happiness, Together AND Apart–codependent couples develop unhealthy attachments that can wreak havoc on their relationship and their lives. Learn to celebrate your own unique selves as individuals who can enjoy activities and experiences without necessarily involving your partner. Develop hobbies that you can enjoy together but also allow space for individuality and personal time. This allows for self-care, rejuvenation, and appreciation of the time we have together.
Have Sex-intimacy and physical connection are essential for nourishing your relationship. Our sexual health is a barometer for our overall health, sex gets our heart rates up in a healthy way, helps to lower blood pressure, improves mood and mental health, supports healthy immune function, promotes better sleep, and increases your libido. Most importantly, shared intimacy strengthens the marital bond and differentiates the relationship you have with your spouse from any other relationship in your life.
Listen–how many times have you passively asked your partner, “how was your day?”, only to realize moments later that you have no idea what he/she said in response? When we allow ourselves to go through each day in autopilot, we are neglecting, rather than nourishing our relationship. We are so “connected” with our phones, emails, social media, and so on these days but are we actually connecting? Take the time to listen to your partner when they’re speaking. Show that you’re engaged and actively listening by maintaining eye contact or ceasing activities until they’re done sharing. Feel comfortable say, “you know what honey, you deserve more attention than I can give you right now, let’s sit down and talk about this when I am done with…”. Set aside a few moments each day to really check in with each other, this may not be easy or comfortable at first, but most things worth working require effort.
Love Languages–a fun, interactive, and reflective way to grow in your relationship is to explore Gary Chapman’s 5 Love Languages-words of affirmation, physical touch, receiving gifts, quality time, and acts of service. Not only does this empower you to be a better spouse, but it allows for self-reflection and a deeper understanding of what you need from your relationship. Uncover your love languages together and have fun with discovering new ways to share and nourish your relationship.
Own Your Own Behavior–we all make mistakes; your partner will love, respect, and forgive you if you take ownership of yours. When we mess up, we need to apologize and own the behavior that has created discomfort or inflicted harm on our partner. By accepting responsibility for our actions and making the effort to apologize, we convey a sincere feeling of care for the other person’s feelings. Keep in mind that you are the owner of your behavior, and your partner is the owner of theirs, you cannot control how they respond, react, or choose to (or not to) apologize or take ownership of their own behavior.
Share Your Feelings, Opinions, and Experiences–it can be easy to fall into the habit of silence when you’ve shared all of your stories and experiences from the past (and share most experiences of the present), but sharing how you feel, what you think, and what you experience on a day-to-day basis can be surprisingly interesting and thought-provoking to your partner. Rather than responding “ok” or “fine” when your partner asks how your day was, try expanding and using descriptive words, “I felt…”, “Today was a good one because…”, “I really feel good about…”, “I’d appreciate your opinion on…”.
Connect, share, and grow together…
Part 3: Sowing the Seeds of Connection
It’s natural for relationships to go through ups and downs-times of passion and excitement, times of challenge and trial. If you and your spouse are facing a challenging season it can be hard to see through the fog and believe that you can come back to that time of passion and joy. Conversely, when you are in a time of affection and connectivity, it’s hard to even remember what started that argument last week. Acknowledging both, particularly when you are in the other, is crucial to nourishing your relationship.
Simple, nourishing ideas for keeping the love alive…
-Have Sex-unscheduled, unexpected sex…try Uberlube
-Plan regular, frequent, date nights; maybe it’s a tradition of your favorite place or trying somewhere new each date
-Commit to a healthy habit! 21 days of: talking for 10 minutes uninterrupted, going to bed together, having sex, evenings without screens, exercising, incorporating more veggies, eliminating sugar, learning something new, sharing a genuine complement each day-the options are limitless!
-Support a local farmers market, farmer, or chef (The Garden Farmacy, Remington-Lott, Nature’s Gourmet Farm, Kimberly Allison: That Organic Chef)
-Garden together, plant herbs to use for homecooked meals
-Home Date! Cook a new recipe together, dress up, put on some soft music, enjoy the evening
-Create some healthy competition! Board games, card games, a cook-off
-Read a book or listen to a podcast together, discuss in detail
-Wake up one morning and take a spontaneous road trip
-Find a quiet place to enjoy a glass of wine and conversation with no distractions
-Pack a picnic and enjoy nature together
-Watch his favorite movie then her favorite movie
-Leave love notes for each other to find
-Get moving together! Go on morning or evening walks/jogs, try a yoga or Pilates class, go on a hike, swim laps, go for a bike ride-again, limitless options!
-Plan a dream trip to look forward to
-Try Gary 101 Conversation Starters for Couples by Gary Chapman and Ramon Presson
-Learn something new together! Take a cooking class, learn a new language, take a music lesson, go for a golf lesson, or find a course on a subject you both find stimulating!
-Trip down memory lane! Visit to the place you first met/first date/got married
Part 4: Nourishing Your Sexual Relationship
Much like every other aspect of our relationship, our sex lives go through seasons and faces challenges. Remember the first time you and your spouse held hands…kissed…said, “I love you”… made love?
Although it may all seem like distant, faded memories, not only is that spark is still there, waiting to be rekindled, but there’s something even better-the love and connection cultivated over a lifetime of love, respect, growth, and time together.
Depending on where you and your spouse are in life you may be thinking, “our sex life is ok just as it is”, or “we just don’t have time for that right now but we still love each other”, or “that was something we did when we were younger” or “neither of us are interested in that anymore”. But do you realize that your sexual health is a barometer for your overall health? Our sexual health can be an indicator of what is going on with our hearts and other vital organs. Sex is not only beneficial for staying connected, sex also provides a variety of health benefits.
Before we get to that we must first acknowledge a few truths about our sexual health. Throughout our lives our bodies change and evolve; there are hormonal shifts, changes in interests, mental health and mood shifts, aging, and for most women, childbirth. While these changes are natural, they have a major impact on our sex lives.
Up to 76% of women may experience decreased vaginal sensation throughout their lifetimes and by the age of 50, 50% of men are facing signs of erectile dysfunction, with the likelihood of ED increasing with age.
The good news here, you are not alone and these changes can be reversed!
Let’s start with the foundation-our food, air, and water. A healthy intake of clean food, clean air, and clean water are at the base of overall health and wellness as well as our sex life. Did you know that certain foods can fuel our sex lives while others diminish our libido? That’s right!
Foods that may help improve blood flow and stimulate your libido include almonds, apples, avocados, bananas, black berries, Brussels sprouts, beets, chilis, eggs, garlic, grass-fed meats, onions, pecans, peppers, pineapple, pumpkin seeds, salmon, sardines, tuna, watermelon, and, of course, oysters.
Foods that diminish interest in sex, leave us feeling sluggish, and negatively impact our overall health include bottled water/food and drinks in plastic, deli meats, fried foods, microwaved popcorn, processed foods, sodas and other sugary drinks, soy, sugar, and excessive amounts of alcohol.
Next, we have our hormones. Throughout our lives our hormones fluctuate, with most of our sexual health hormones-testosterone in men (and women), and estrogen and progesterone in women, decreasing as we age. We can support hormone balance with a healthy diet, plenty of exercise and movement, reducing stress, incorporating self-care, getting quality sleep, suitable supplementation, and, when appropriate, hormone therapy.
Natural, hormone-free, regenerative therapies are also a good fit for couples looking improve their overall health and sex lives.
Votiva for women’s health is a gentle treatment option which provides a therapeutic, regenerative experience, and immediate results. Votiva uses energy to stimulate the natural healing process and repair your body. Our bodies naturally work to repair themselves, the Votiva treatment supports your body in the process of ensuring it is regenerating cells and healing. This treatment works to restore women’s bodies and vaginal health back to their youthful state of health.
For women who have vaginal health concerns, including, incontinence/bladder leakage, vaginal dryness, pelvic pain, pain during sex, lack of libido, post-childbirth vaginal trauma, menopausal and perimenopausal symptoms, weakening of pelvic floor muscles, physical consequences due to the lack of sexual activity, and the increase in vaginal laxity/vaginal loosening, Votiva is a safe and effective therapy for regaining confidence and nourishing sexual health.
GAINSWave for men’s health is a safe and comfortable treatment using a non-invasive method to help men optimize sexual performance and reverse the effects of erectile dysfunction and Peyronie’s disease. GAINSwave uses soundwaves, rather than medications, eradicate the root causes of ED, break up arterial blockages, support in the regeneration of new blood cells, and regain blood flow to the penis.
Benefits of reinvigorating your sexual health:
-A renewed marital connection
-Improved heart health, blood flow, more cardiovascular activity, and lower blood pressure
-Improved confidence, performance, and stamina
-Healthier mood and mental state
-Better quality of life
-Support for hormone balancing
-Improved immune function
-Reduced risk of prostate cancer in men and improved bladder control in women
-Stronger, longer lasting erections for men and improved vaginal sensation and lubrication for women
-Better Sexual Health=Better Overall Health and Longevity!
Live Life Well with EWL! Contact us to learn more about our regenerative health services, as well as nutritional health, hormone balancing, lifestyle medicine treatment plans today!