And no, it's not sex outside of the bedroom.
By Jordan Gray.
I was talking to my best friend's mom recently, and I asked her questions about her marriage of over 30 years. (If you've read my articles for any length of time you'll know that I'm obsessed with knowing what makes long-term relationships thrive.)
I asked her what she thought made her relationship work so well. I asked her what excited her about her husband. I asked her what sort of things got better with time in her marriage.
But it was her answer to "What do you like the most about your husband?" that stuck with me the most.
She answered my question with a short story. She said "A few days ago I was sitting at home on one of my days off. I was sitting, reading quietly, and I had a nice perfect-temperature cup of tea sitting next to me on my side table. And I looked around the house and thought 'Where did he say he was going to again?', and then I remembered that he had gone off to play touch football with his friends in the park. This is a tradition that he has been carrying on for at least the past five or six years now with the same core group of friends he's known since his university days. Anyways, I remember feeling filled with an overwhelming feeling of contentment that he was doing this. And it was such a big feeling that I started asking it questions. 'Why am I so happy about this? Is it the fact that we're apart? Is it that I get to have some quiet time to myself?'… and then I realized it was because he was prioritizing his own happiness and he had cared enough about himself, and in my mind our relationship, that he wanted to make sure he was always in a good place for us. He is very proactive about making sure he's in a good place. And it's so nice to be married to a happy man."
In summary, self-care is sexy.
Whatever it is that charges your batteries, caring about yourself to the level that you prioritize non-negotiable time in your weekly calendar to make yourself happy is one of the greatest things you can do for your love life.
As the emerging cliché goes, when the oxygen masks drop down in the airplane we're always instructed to put on our own masks first. That is because we are of no use to others unless we take care of our own needs first.
So whether that looks to you like meditating, getting massages, going to the gym, having regular guys' nights, taking baths, going to sporting events, watching movies, working on a long-term creative project, or whatever else your heart desires, taking care of yourself will always funnel excess positive energy into your intimate relationship. Not only does self-care make you feel better day to day, it makes you more productive at work, decreases the number of arguments you're likely to engage in with your partner, and makes your sex life better.
Why? Because the lower cortisol (stress hormone) levels you'll have in your body, the less likely you are to pick fights and the more likely you are to enjoy passionate, present-minded sex with your lover.
So if you find yourself wishing for a better relationship, a better sex life, or a better overall quality of life, you might want to start by looking into your own daily habits. How could you prioritize yourself more? What kinds of things do you know that you love doing, but that you haven't actually set aside the time to do in a while? What is your heart yearning for?
We've all heard that all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy… well, most people don't enjoy being in relationships with 'dull' people. So brainstorm some self-care activities, dust off your calendar, and start prioritizing your personal enjoyment outside of your relationship.
This article was originally published at The Good Men Project. Reprinted with permission from the author.