The Couple That Sweats Together Stays Together

“let’s join a gym, we could all go together.” It sounded like a great idea!

So, we looked around our local gyms and opted for one where our children could enjoy the facilities too. There is a play area in the restaurant, the kids do classes through the week such as dancing and football and we all now go swimming together, what a great idea my husband had! That was until he suggested “let’s do an excise class together.” Now I’m not the fittest person, I loved our new gym more for its great coffee and comfy sofas than I did for its state of the art equipment and 70 plus classes a week on offer, but I couldn’t say no when he pulled out the spending time with each other card. We have been together over 10 years and for two people who live in the same house we don’t actually do that many things together as a couple. He has his hobbies and I have mine so thought of having an hour a week when we actually do something together was appealing.

So off we went lycra’d up, water bottles full to his choice of class which turned out to be, an outdoor boot camp. I was mortified! Surrounded by ultra-thin women and muscle heavy men we were instructed to complete a 50 rep x5 workout in under 20 minutes. (for those requiring a translation from gym-speak to English that means I had to do five different exercises 50 times.) These consisted of squats, push ups, sit ups, something to do with a kettle and running around the court like I was a pony (high knees). Everything hurt.

However, in amongst all the (blood) sweat (and tears), the most beautiful encouragement came from my husband. “YOU CAN DO IT” he said as I’m struggling to push up for the 39 time. “YOUR DOING GREAT” he called over as I’m running around like I’m part of the grand national. “NICE BUM” he said, a little too loudly, as I’m squatting as low as I can go. Never before had I experienced such encouragement from him. This was a rare environment in which I’d put myself in a position where I was completely out of my depth and was pushed to my limit. And he was there as my biggest fan.

We now partner up in class and we also have a healthy appetite for competition too. “First one to complete the circuit gets a back massage” and let me tell you when we get home it’s never just a back massage, everyone’s a winner!

Joining the gym has bought us closer together for sure. My self-esteem has shot up and I never thought I would actually look forward to boot camp. Going to a gym class may not be possible for everyone but it’s the principle of getting active together that is really the key in why this has been so good for us. So, if you’re looking for a sweaty activity, clear the living room and turn on the dusty Wii fit,  go for a run in the park all together, get the bikes out the shed and go for a ride. Have a little healthy competition for banter and you never know what other sweaty activity that might lead to.

Digging up the weeds!

John and I have been married for 46 years. Being together and walking through life together for this amount of time means you work well as a team, We pick up each other's dropped balls and fill in for the other's weaknesses. I can see in his chaos where things are and keep the admin of daily life covered. He clears up gladly - worth every dish that I have cooked and we've enjoyed together. His calm and quiet mostly balance my need for adventure and people.

But even now it's all too easy to misread the signals....

I had started to wonder aloud if the garden is too big – his response to my questioning simply meant to just work harder and attempt to dig the whole garden over! What I actually wanted was to talk about the what if and when of getting older, to start to think about other options. We had clearly 'missed' each other and we probably both felt misunderstood. 

I read Dr Gary Chapman’s book The Five Love Languages and John picked up on the snippets I read aloud.  It has been helpful for us in casting some light on these moments when we completely ‘miss’ each other in our approaches and in our responses. The book helped me to see that my ‘love language’ language is more quality time so just sitting down and talking to me and letting me know that he understands my worries would have been enough for me. I wasn’t really worried about the garden, it was really an underlying bigger conversation about getting older. Just talking this through would have been enough for me and the weeds could have stayed put. From John’s side, his love language is ‘acts of service’. His way of showing me he loves me is trying to show he’s heard my worries by doing something to make the situation better, in this case by digging the garden.

After all these years it's still hard to imagine ourselves right into the other's heart and see what is the best way to show love to them.  I’m not sure we will ever completely get there but amazingly  after these years we are both still wanting to love and care for each other. There are times I have felt like I have really learnt to love John well, loved him in the way he feels loved and these moments are like gold.

The Fifteen Second Kiss

It’s Valentine’s Day! Love it or hate it, there’s no way to avoid it.

In my experience, there was a window of time when Valentine’s Day was amazing. It was when our relationship was still new enough to feel exciting but serious enough to be worth celebrating.

In our early years of being together, we lived in a house share and our housemates were all single. When Valentine’s Day came around, there were lots of jokes about people who actually buy into it and how stupid and shallow it all is. “What a load of rubbish” they said to which I nodded and laughed along. But the truth is we were young and in love and we wanted to buy into it. That year, we waited until everyone was asleep, crept back downstairs, filled the room with candles and cooked that dinner for two and drank champagne. We were so happy and so excited to be together – we wanted to celebrate that.

In contrast, there have been some less romantic Valentines days for us. There can be so much pressure to have the most romantic day of the year but that it not always how you feel. At times it just feels awkward. We have often had that wooden experience of sitting face to face in a room full of other couples sitting face to face with their partners trying to muster up the dewy sparkly feeling from when we were first together. You try to think of something profound and loving to say but really your mind is wondering about that deadline looming tomorrow morning or how to fix that stubborn patch of damp in the front room. But we go along with ‘the process’ – because it’s Valentine’s Day, right?

I know how to feign offence if I don’t get flowers, to try and buy a present that is equal in value to the gift I am expecting to get, to try and think of something quirky and original to make it different this year. But in truth, I don’t care about Valentine’s Day in itself, it is what it represents that I am after. I want that heady feeling when I see my husband walking through a crowd and he hasn’t seen me yet, the butterflies in my tummy when we are out and he catches my eye across the room, the excitement and the love. It’s the romantic love that Valentine’s Day represents that I want to feel. In amongst the madness and rush of everyday life, it’s the love that I want to breath in and feel and I want have that in ten, twenty, thirty years……I don’t want to become house mates, ever.

So this Valentine’s Day, whatever plans you have, try this 15 second tip to re-capture your spark with your partner. It’s completely free so what have you got to lose.

When you see your partner today give them a kiss. Not just a quick kiss but for at least 15 seconds. Close your eyes, don’t pull away and feel yourself reconnect with that person you have chosen to journey through life with.

Now that is worth a million roses.