Some couples appear to do everything together, whilst others are always off doing their own thing every weekend. There is nothing wrong with either of these scenarios, provided both partners are in agreement about it and it is not having a negative impact on their relationship.
For most of us, a healthy relationship needs time apart to work on what inspires each partner. Of course, you may both be into health and fitness, which is great; travelling to the gym together, even though you may be doing something quite different when you get there, will help keep you both motivated to keep going. Striking a balance though is important. It is helpful to have a few shared interests, but it is equally healthy to have completely different ones. Shared interests give couples something in common to talk about and to get together over, whereas having different hobbies and activities offers something different to talk to each other about, keeping things fresh, interesting and exciting. Either way this leads to a couple interacting with each other in a positive way.
Making time for each other’s interests teaches us how to give and take, rather than allowing one to always take the lead. Time apart is important, to be able to develop personally and bring something more back to the relationship. But of course here is where balance is essential, because spending TOO much time apart can have negative consequences, with one partner feeling left out, and conflict starting to arise, resulting in the relationship pulling in two different directions.
A new and innovative way to view this is by drawing up a relationship agreement. Mark Zuckerberg did this with his girlfriend (now his wife), in which he agreed to spend 100 minutes of alone time together, outside of work, or the home. Whilst such an agreement needn’t be a formal written contract, simply agreeing to include a regular date night once a week, or selecting a day for a joint hobby, can be just as effective. Once it becomes a habitual event it creates stability and a deeper connection with each other.
A great way to instigate this is by sitting down at the start of the year and creating a yearly plan together, in which you account for your individual needs, the needs together as a couple and those for your family. This is a really great way to structure how to approach your most important relationships (including the one you have with yourself!). This can include anything from the way that you want to eat, to your fitness programs, to holidays, family time, work commitments, finances and helping the kids through exams. Sitting down together at the end of the year to examine what you accomplished from your list is an extremely constructive way to see how the plan has worked for you, and where you might want to make improvements for the following year.
For couples to succeed in doing things together it is important that they are engaged and interact with each other in a positive way. Competitiveness can work both positively and negatively. If you are trying to cheer each other on and encourage better performance in the gym for example this can work very well, but if you are actually trying to “beat” one another this can lead to resentment and one feeling inferior/superior to the other.
If you have very different interests, but would like your partner to participate in yours, then it is fair that this should be a reciprocal arrangement. Doing this with good will, as opposed to a feeling of martyrdom, is essential because not only will you not enjoy it (almost deliberately), but you will almost certainly take the enjoyment out of it for your partner. Being enthusiastic, interested and willing demonstrates an emotional commitment, which they can then reciprocate when it is their turn. And who knows, perhaps you both might like the new activities!
Women’s sense of responsibility to their family often means that they put their own health and interests to one side. This is where a partner can make a huge impact, by agreeing to look after the children for two evenings, for example, so that this time is then available for the other partner to go to the gym, attend classes, or go to a workshop etc. This alleviates the sense of guilt and takes the stress out of this activity.
However you decide to work it as a couple, having each other’s interests at heart will ensure that you are both able to achieve your goals, whilst supporting the other in theirs.
How do YOU support each other in your health and fitness goals?