Investing in your relationship

Published in Sexual Medicine, For the Health of It Author: Joni Steffens, CNM, APRN, CSC

Sexual Medicine Clinic Director

Kale. Meditation. Kombucha. HIIT. Sleep. Smile. Yoga. Water. What’s on your list for optimal health, well-being and longevity?

I’m here to campaign for a place for connection on your 2017 Must Do list.

Why? Creating and caring for strong relationships reduces the risk of premature death by 50 percent. The benefits are equivalent to quitting smoking, losing weight and physical activity. Those in long-term relationships are happier, experience higher levels of life satisfaction, and are less likely to have depression.

Need another reason?

More sex. Better sex.

Before you breathe a sigh of relief, thinking “I got this” — you aren’t getting by just being with someone. Creating a self-sustaining, strong, nurturing relationship takes focus and intention. It takes time, energy, showing up and taking risks.

It is so easy to become complacent, to get caught up in careers, kids and caring for the family. You pass some magical milestone and think…we have reached the top! Check. Done. You naively believe the other person always will be there. Better or worse right? How many of us put the cruise control on and suddenly realize we ended up somewhere we did not intend?

Relationship stress and conflict is worse than going solo through life. Interpersonal rifts increase cardiovascular risks, adversely effects endocrine and hormonal functioning and reduce immune system functioning. No amount of handwashing is going to fix an unhealthy relationship.

The health and well being of your relationship requires growth. Without it, boredom and stagnation brew.

How much time does it take to keep a relationship on track? John Gottman, researcher and author of the “Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work” says it takes about five extra hours a week to stay connected.

Strong relationships are good. Strong relationships are hard. But every one of us is wired for connection.

Are you ready to make your connections count? Are you ready to sign up for less stress, more pleasure, better health, and a longer life?