One of the most surprising moments in a long term relationship is when you realize that you haven’t just made memories with someone, started living with someone, and shared experiences with someone, but realizing how much you’ve rubbed off on each other. Relationships, especially those that are long term, end up shaping us in unexpected ways—for better and for worse. We pick up each other’s mannerisms, turns of phrase, and sometimes even styles of dressing or tastes in food.
Because relationships have such powerful shaping potential, it’s really important to focus on making each other happier and healthier. It’s easy to get complacent in a relationship and to enable each other to make poor choices. We persuade each other to skip that exercise class, have that extra glass of wine—and sometimes, that’s totally fine. But sometimes it gets out of hand. Instead, you and your partner can encourage healthy habits that go way beyond diet and exercise. Having each other is such an incredible tool—a source of encouragement and support and solidarity—so here are some good habits to develop together.
An easy habit you can instill as a couple is to stay active. For some people, that’s going to look more extreme than others. If you're the kind of couple who loves to hit up the gym or a spin class together five times a week, great—have at it and enjoy. For others, it may be more about walking your dog together, going for hikes, or just taking long walks around your neighborhood and exploring. As long as you’re scheduling in some time for both of you to get moving together, it’s a great way to bond and stay healthy. Plus, the combination of being outside and that rush of endorphins seem to have a unique way of relaxing us and opening us up, so you might find that those tricky conversations are a lot easier out there in the fresh air.
Healthy habits aren’t all about staying fit—emotional health is crucial, too. One of the best things you and your partner can encourage each other to do is communicate effectively. If one of you harbors resentment, gets passive-aggressive, or just has trouble sharing, the other should (gently) call them out on it. Encourage checking in often, being accountable, and creating a safe space to talk about how you’re feeling. The more closed off one of you is, the more closed off you will both become, but if you encourage each other to be open, it can soon become easier than you think.
Making Smart Money Decisions
Financial health is not talked about often enough, but it’s so important. Both as individuals and as a couple with long-term goals, being financially fit can totally transform your life. Become a couple who talks about money, who don't bury their heads in their sand, and who make smart choices. If you can encourage each other to set some financial goals, start saving, and stick to a budget, it can benefit you in so many different areas of your life—and it’s a lot easier to do as a team.
Eating is such a communal experience, so it’s natural when we start to pick up on one another’s eating habits. It's a really crucial area when it comes to developing healthy habits as a couple. Now, that doesn't mean forcing each other to live on nothing but vegetables and air—that’s not healthy, either. Sometimes making healthy eating choices means encouraging each other to indulge and to not become too fanatical. For others, it might be encouraging eating clean and cooking at home. Whatever healthy eating means to you, it’s so much easier if you and your partner are both on board.
Making Time for Self-Care
All of the healthy habits you can develop with your partner don’t actually have to be with your partner. One great thing you can do for each other is to encourage each other to pursue your own passions and make time for self-care. Maybe they have a project they’ve been working on or maybe you have a lot of hobbies—it’s normal to have spheres of interest that are separate from our partners. Tell them they should go out with their friends or get a massage or take 10 minutes out to meditate—and hopefully, they’ll support you in doing the same. Independence and self-care are foundations of a healthy relationship, so make sure that you're taking the time to pursue your own passions, interests, and projects—or just spend time with your friends while flying solo.
Being in a couple is a great opportunity to develop healthy habits. You’ve got a built-in teamwork and support network, so take advantage of it. But remember, being healthy is about more than just diet and exercise. Helping each other develop strong mental, emotional, and even financial health can totally change your relationship—and you might find that you get stronger every day.