As I’ve only been not single for a little under 3 months, I still have a hard time thinking as a couple in many things, and the prompt about Wellness puzzled me a little. I know couples who did Slimming World together, and people who search for a partner who loves running so they can do it together, but neither of them applies to me, so I wanted to dig deeper and went on Google to find an answer. An article on the blog of a spa seemed promising. They start with exercising together, much to the delight of said friends who date fellow runners. I fall in the category of people who like their independence, and in fact tend to run to worship songs because I like to immerse myself in nature like an ancient Israelite and be in awe of God’s creation, but I also couldn’t run with my partner even when we’re in the same place, because our paces are wildly different. There are other activities we could be doing that would be easier to do together perhaps, but as a long-distance couple the time we spend together seems better spent doing things like cuddling up to watch a film because, while I can watch films on my own (and we do that once a week as a long-distance date night), when do I get my cuddles fix?
Sharing beauty products is the following suggestion, based on the growing popularity of skincare products for men. Mr Knightley has a collection of products in his bathroom that would make the original Mr Knightly blush, and I have too many to count, especially after he got me the M&S Beauty Advent Calendar. The article suggests using women’s products, or even buying them together as a bonding experience. However, I cannot think of sharing them: they are one of those things that are really personal to me, as people’s skins are different and have different needs.
The third suggestion of how to do wellness as a couple is, unsurprisingly, spa days, which is a great idea that works for long-distance couples like ourselves too. There are lovely retreat houses in the countryside for a weekend away, or city ones. For a number of years I have been keen to try a Hammam (Turkish Bath), although the one that seemed the truest to a real one in Dalston didn’t do mixed gender days the last time I checked, but it was also very cheap so it’s on my bucket list (perhaps next year’s Galentine’s Day). It’s not quite the Gin Spa, but there are amazing Turkish restaurants nearby. I love Turkish food and really miss a good Turkish breakfast. If you can’t go on holiday to Turkey, the cosmopolitanism of London makes for a really good substitute, with a lot of places to have food and the V&A’s Jameel Gallery as well as the British Museum. A day or two off work on a weekday spent on a mini-staycation can be equally satisfying to going away, especially if travelling stresses you like it stresses me.
Personally, though, I feel that there is more to wellness than doing things. It’s about a frame of mind. According to the National Wellness Institute, there are 6 dimensions of wellness:
Occupational recognises personal satisfaction and enrichment in one’s life through work. While, unless you work together like running a business or something, work is a generally independent avenue, there is a role for a partner in keeping you focused on the positive and preventing you from burning out. A partner can also see meaning when you don’t, or give you purpose for tackling your job that little bit more enthusiastically. It all depends on where your satisfaction lies with regards to work, we all value different aspects, and it’s key that a partner supports the other in that.
Physical recognises the need for regular physical activity. That goes back to the suggestion at the beginning, and if you’re not a couple that would do it together you can still be there for each other on your journey.
Social encourages contributing to one’s environment and community. As half of a political couple, both with a track record of volunteering, being engaged in the community is second nature. Like, you know, Emma Woodhouse and Mr Knightley.
Intellectual recognises one’s creative, stimulating mental activities. Call us boring, but we are really keen on crosswords. Mr Knightley is also supportive of my studies, even reading things with me when I’m not motivated, and we have stimulating conversations.
Spiritual recognises our search for meaning and purpose in human existence. We’re a Christian couple, and all along we have been intentional about being disciples together, as our faith was high up on the list of things that brought us together in the first place. I never felt I could really be with someone who wasn’t a Christian, even though I tried, as something was always off no matter how supportive they tried to be. I think that whatever your beliefs, you should have a shared worldview as a couple.
Emotional recognises awareness and acceptance of one’s feelings. This is probably the biggest one for me. I have dated people with whom I was scared of sharing anything, for fear of scaring them off by looking clingy or over-emotional and needy. That, in turn, made it difficult for me to accept my own feelings, second-guessing whether maybe I was overreacting and too emotional, irrational and unreasonable. Now I can have a complete melt-down and only be met with the heartbreak of seeing someone you love suffer I realise to what standard it’s possible to hold a man, and I’m grateful that there still are mature, strong and Godly men around to pick up the pieces of people with a habit of collapsing crying in Adoration.
I have never really put too much thought into self-care in the context of a relationship, but by the look of it it seems something really important to me that I wasn’t even aware that I needed.
Today’s blog post has been part of the Love Blog Challenge 2018 on the subject “Wellness”. Find the rest of the series here.