The National Extension Relationship & Marriage Education Network (NERMEN) is comprised of researchers and practitioners who utilize research findings to better inform the effectiveness of relationship and marriage education programs. NERMEN has compiled a model of seven principles that are validated predictors of relationship quality and stability: Choose, Care for Self, Know, Care, Share, Manage, and Connect. Over the next several weeks we will be describing each of the core principles on our blog. Today we will be talking about the Care for Self principle.
As one of the seven principles in the National Extension Relationship & Marriage Education Model (NERMEM), the Care for Self principle emphasizes the interconnected associations between spiritual, sexual, physical, and psychological/emotional health for an individual’s well-being. It also addresses how well-being in one of those domains can spillover into one’s romantic relationships. Below I describe the Care for Self principle in greater detail:
- Eating healthy and exercising regularly
Eating healthy and exercising consistently is important not only for your physical well-being, but also for your relationship. Exercising and eating healthy meals are also great opportunities for couples to spend time together, and encourage each other to
incorporate healthy habits into the lifestyle, which can establish a culture of wellness.
- Setting regular sleep and wake times
Good sleep habits, including setting regular sleep and wake times, are as important as eating and exercising to maintaining a healthy relationship. Research has found that too much or too little sleep is associated with poor health and emotional problems. Such problems can affect how couples interact and impair their ability to effectively listen or resolve issues. Therefore, it is important that couples strive to make the necessary and appropriate accommodations to create healthy sleep patterns.
- Noticing and appreciating the good things in your life
An individual’s ability to notice and demonstrate what is going well in their life is essential to their emotional wellness. Appreciating things allows you to remain positive for yourself and your relationship. People who tend to be positive and optimistic, rather than negative, generally tend to have better couple relationships. Keeping a gratefulness journal can help make positivity a habit. Individuals can remain positive by thinking or writing about happy moments (past, present, and future), and then discussing these with their partners can help enhance or establish positivity within the relationship.
- Looking for the positive meaning in your life
Spiritual wellness is about looking for the positive meaning in your life and it is essential for overall well-being. For some, enhancing spiritual wellness may include praying, attending religious services, meditating, reading or writing poetry, painting, and other activities that provide meaning in their lives.
- Managing conflict in healthy ways
Every relationship experiences conflict, but how you manage that conflict is vital to both your and your partner’s well-being. Safety in conflict is essential! For couples, managing stress involves each partner’s ability to regulate their emotions. One’s health can be ruined by not appropriately managing conflict and emotions, and poor management of conflict can be damaging to the relationship. On the other hand, regulating emotions and responding with humor or de-escalation strategies is related to long-term relationship success.
What’s important is that individuals understand that how they currently choose to manage their physical, emotional, and spiritual health is going to have a direct or indirect effect on their relationship. The Care for Self principle promotes healthy habits so that an individual can best function in a couple relationship. We hope you try one of the ideas we provided to take care of yourself, and ultimately your relationship.