I’ve grown up in a household, where quality relationships were always the top priority. My mum was a relationship and sex counselor where she often shared her insights. Also, my parents always prioritised their marriage above everything else, which I know is incredibly rare. It set the bar high!
So it is safe to say that my marriage is probably (and in some ways too much so) the most important thing in my life. Full stop.
Marriage is a beautiful thing. I’ve always believed, in so many ways, that it is the most precious journey in life – getting to know your other half. Working together to create a deep and meaningful connection through the joys and the hardships of life has got to be one of the most fulfilling experiences.
A healthy relationship is absolutely a priority for Dean and myself – we are about to go into our 11th year together. I want to share some things that keep us close and connected, even while building a business together (which can be enormously stressful to say the least!):
- Weekends together – We try to avoid all work (in the last few years) and enjoy lots of quality time together. Walking, going to the gym and making meals together. If we had kids, we would just have them join this quality time, plus still ensure we carve out some alone time!
- Technology switch-off by 9.30pm each night – changed our lives!
- No phones in the bedroom – This helps allow our bedroom to be a nourishing space that is calm, relaxed and wholesome for us to be together in. Dean knows to take calls downstairs or outside.
- An annual vacation together – Over Christmas every year, since the start of JSHealth, Dean and I take off two weeks, just the two of us, and enjoy special time together. This is how we recoup from an intense work year. Going off social media during this time is very important too.
- Avoiding comparison/what others think – I recall being in relationships where I cared so much about what other people thought. I am a natural people pleaser and do find myself caring way too much about what others think in general. But when I met Dean, I remember feeling the rest of the world didn’t matter. And the truth is, Dean and I feel like our world together is so precious – the rest really doesn’t matter. Reminding yourself of this is so important. Because people are very judgemental and sometimes also envious – you just cannot care in order to protect your relationship. At the start of our marriage, I heard someone mention an awful and untrue thing about Dean…and that just reminded me of how important it is to phase out other people’s judgements and focus on your own truth.
- Avoiding perfection – We are both A type personalities – we put a lot of pressure on ourselves to do it all right and perfectly. We really work hard on not allowing this to be a factor in our relationship. For example, If we don’t have as much time together during the week as we had wished for. Or some weeks our intimacy is less than others because of work exhaustion, that is okay. I think in the world we live in, we expect everything to be perfect at all times. When you release this pressure, you see clearly that what matters is what happens most of the time. We always remind ourselves “it doesn’t need to always be perfect”.
- Reduce stress for better sex – I don’t like talking too much about my own sex life because I know this sort of chat can lead to comparison. Having a mum as a sexologist, I know how important sex is, but also that it ebs and flows. Dean and I both value intimacy in our relationship and ensure we spend time together which leads to natural desire and a heathy sex life. I will tell you, sex gets better with age. You just know your body so well. And I also believe the body needs to feel relaxed – so reducing stress is one’s life is very important to keep the romance alive.
- We know what matters- Our marriage comes first, no matter what. The rest is our second priority. We work together and therefore this mentality is vital and probably a massive reason why we work so well together. If work and business came first, it would cause immense stress on us.
- Being there for one another through the good and the bad – We have a beautiful life full of blessings but I have also had quite a debilitating mental health challenge over the last two years after a personal trauma which caused me symptoms of PTSD. The anxiety I felt became all related to the loss of my loved ones. My biggest fears were brought to the surface. To be 100% transparent, I felt I would lose the closest people to me, including Dean. I had awful intrusive thoughts about loss. Dean has been so strong and selfless for me. And I may have to do the same for him one day. This is life – it is not perfect and there are times when it’s full of pain. You have to make that conscious choice to be there for each other through the good and bad. Even though the last two years have been so tough, it has actually brought us closer. So hard times help you connect to life and loved ones even more deeply.
- Respect – If you don’t have it for one another, everything suffers. It is probably the main reason why we are able to work together everyday.
None of the above is done perfectly and sometimes we fail. And that is ok too. That “we are doing our best” is what matters most.
A note to also say that our culture through media (movies, books etc) has glorified romance and relationships to a level that can seem impossible to achieve. I see it so much amongst my work and personal life. I’ll never forget reading a post on instagram recently that said: A healthy loving relationship is one that feels like a warm bowl of oatmeal with cinnamon and honey. It feels safe, warm inside and just right. It feels good for the soul. It is not a cake dripping in sparkles, icing and over the top chocolate.
And it is so true. A relationship is where two people come together and embark on a journey that is imperfect, but perhaps, an experience of a lifetime where you get to know yourself and another person to their core, that brings immense meaning, joy and beauty all around.
Comparing your relationship to others is really harmful because every relationship is just so different.
I can only pray everyday that this immense love and joy continues over a lifetime.
Love Jess x