“Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.” – Lao Tzu
Strength, courage and getting in shape are terms often applied to fitness and working out. But when it comes to getting your love life in shape, what does exercising with your “sweat-heart” have to do with it? The answer is PLENTY!
John Gottman, Ph.D., offers seven principles for couples to follow on the road to happily ever after. Check these out and see how making a steady diet of gym dates will not only help you stick to your fitness program (94% of couples who work out together do), but also help you stick with—and enjoy—your relationship, too.
1. Enhance your love map.
Couples who are successful at keeping their love going strong are intimately familiar with each other’s world. When she goes to the gym in the morning and he goes in the evenings, they are not sharing as much of each other’s lives as they can.
2. Nurture fondness and admiration.
Be sure you remind yourself of your partner’s positive qualities and express your fondness and admiration. This happens naturally when couples work out together, celebrating each other’s successes, high-fiving, motivating and encouraging each other. Touching while stretching, saying “thank-you” for racking weights, giving the other a towel or a water bottle after a hard run are all actions that demonstrate fondness and admiration.
3. Turn toward each other.
The basis of romantic connection is turning toward your partner when he or she has made a bid for your affection. It builds connection, passion and a good sex life. Incorporating fun partner-exercises into your workouts is a great way to help strengthen this connection.
When it comes to sex, endurance and increased energy from cardio will help keep you going. Flexibility is sure needed in the bedroom and strength from resistance training can help when attempting some unique “positions.” Body image is enhanced through exercise. Not only does each partner enjoy his or her own body more, but the greater level of satisfaction he or she feels leads to enhanced self-image and a sense of desirability that ultimately shows up in the bedroom. Research tells us that women are more sexually responsive immediately following 20 minutes of vigorous exercise. For men, increased testosterone from exercise stimulates sexual desire and behavior. With all that going on, doesn’t a gym date sound like the perfect way to build romance?
4. Let your partner influence you.
Guys, this one is especially for you. It means you need to treat the woman in your life with respect while sharing power and decision-making. While women also need to do the same in return, the data indicates that most women already do this. Avoid judging the type of workout and intensity your mate enjoys. Unless you are asked for advice, don’t turn your workout date into a string of criticisms. Set mutual goals, discuss your own weaknesses and ask your partner for her input or to help assess your fitness level. Do cardio side-by-side and work at your own speed—double head phones in the same iPod lets you share music, and be influenced by her playlist.
5. Solve your solvable problems.
Couples that avoid criticism and defensiveness, that understand how to deescalate tension, that can soothe themselves and each other and that know how to compromise, will surely keep their love going strong. Sweating it out with each other naturally reduces stress and tension as exercise has physical and emotional benefits that leave couples with passion and in greater harmony with each other. The endorphins and cannabinoids that result from exercise do wonders to help people think clearly and increase personal happiness. Develop trust with each other simply by serving as each other’s spotter. Knowing your partner is there to assist can aid in communication and trust building.
6. Overcome gridlock.
In healthy, happy, long-term relationships, couples incorporate each other’s concrete goals into what they believe their relationship is about. When couples bring this into their gym workouts with each other, they literally create mutual goals, reinvent quality time and honor each other’s accomplishments.
7. Create shared meaning.
When couples create shared meaning based on rituals, culture, purpose and values, conflicts, perpetual problems and gridlock are far less likely to occur. What’s the mutual value that you and your partner place on fitness, exercise, health and happiness?
Ready to break a sweat with that special someone in your life? Try this free total-body partner workout!
Michael Mantell earned his Ph.D. at the University of Pennsylvania and his M.S. at Hahnemann Medical College, here he wrote his thesis on obesity. He’s served as the Chief Psychologist of Rady Children’s Hospital in San Diego and the Chief Psychologist for the San Diego Police Department. He provides breakthrough strategies to help business leaders, athletes, individuals and families create healthy, fit and happy trajectories in life. He is the Senior Consultant for Behavioral Sciences for ACE, an international behavior science fitness presenter, an Advisor to numerous companies and fitness organizations, on the Sports Medicine team of The Sporting Club of San Diego and is featured in many international media outlets. He is listed in the greatest.com 2013 “The 100 Most Influential People in Health and Fitness.”
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