Marriage, or any similar commitment, requires endurance. And, it requires consistent and healthy habits.

In sports, there is something called “overtraining”. Typically, it’s when you’re trying to push yourself to reach a certain goal and end up doing something too hard and too fast. The result is fatigue, irritability, injury, lack of sleep, sickness, inability to focus, etc.

In other words – it really screws you up!

You think you’re doing something good for yourself, but you end up doing it in a way that leads to real physical and mental changes. This can affect every area of your life including your health, your work, and your relationships.

Overtraining can happen when you either overstress the body, or don’t allow enough time for recovery…or a combination of both.

So what does this have to do with relationships?

Well, when your relationship is exposed to something difficult – this could be something related to money, to kids, to your job, your environment, to a family move, or any other major change or disappointment – you get stressed.

And when you experience prolonged episodes of stress and you don’t respond to it in a healthy manner, it can lead to the very same symptoms of overtraining. This is why people who lead high-stress lifestyles but do not exercise will have the same symptoms an elite athlete can have when they are overtraining.

Stress is stress. At the hormonal level, your body will respond the same to a financial stressor as it will to running too many miles each week (less the sore muscles, of course).

When your cortisol levels increase and stay elevated too long overtraining and overstress results…and all the associated symptoms. This affects everything – especially your relationships.

Without understanding how much stress can really affect your overall wellness, affecting what you say, do, act, react, and physically feel – everything can be blown out of proportion. Rather than working through to the underlying causes, you instead focus on the anger and hurt.

And…that just doesn’t work.

So then, what DOES work when you’re overstressed and suffering the effects of Overtraining in your Relationship?

The same things you would do in your physical training in that situation are effective in your relationship:

Cross Training

Get out of the rut – do something fun, new, spontaneous!

A traditional shrink will put you on the couch so you can talk about it. However, why not try something else. Get out and play together! There is power in play and you may discover the more you play the less important all those “important” things really are. Play helps you put it into perspective as you laugh and giggle and lower all the walls stress has built between you.

Rest and Recovery

Get enough sleep – together. If you kicked him to the couch, let him back in the bedroom. Remember when your bedroom was a haven? Before it became the place where you folded and stacked the laundry, or had kids jumping in and out of your bed, or ironed your clothes each morning (and left the ironing board up), or stacked up newspapers, work or bills because you sit in bed and work? Get your bedroom back in shape. Get your bedroom in shape for Passion, Love, Romance, Respect and Commitment.

It’s where you make love to the man or woman you are committed to. Sure, they may piss you off every once in a while, but that’s normal. Just like you’re going to have a bad training day, training week, or maybe even training year! When you’re committed to your health, or your sport, you keep going, right? You figure out how you need to change your strategy, or your training, or your habits to improve your game and perform better.

It’s the same with your relationship. When you’re committed to it, when it matters, then you’re going to take the time and make the effort to get yourself in shape AND learn what works for the team – physically and emotionally.

Proper temperatures that are good for sleeping; the right lighting for romance, having it smell good and feel good with an expensive set of sheets are all indulgences that are worth the extra effort.

At the end of the day (or in the middle of the day), make it a place where you can connect both emotionally and physically. And, make it a place where both of you can relax. Blowing off pent up steam in your bedroom isn’t a good idea. Doing this will result in a negative reaction to the bedroom. It will be a place for discord instead of harmony.

This space is a non-combative zone. Arguing and make-up sex aside, by non-combative I mean that your bedroom is a place for fair fights – no low blows, no attacks that will cause additional stress.

Eat Better Foods

What you eat can affect your mood, and your libido. When you’re in a bad mood…everything else seems bad, even when in reality, it may not be. Too much salt sugar, bad fats, and over-processed and packaged foods (you know, the “convenient” ones) can block the healthy flow in your body.

Look at your skin – is it radiant? Or dull?

Look at your tongue – is it a bright pink? Or does it have a film of “yuck” on it?

Do you feel tired, or energized?

Are your bowel movements consistent and healthy? (I won’t go deep into “healthy poop” details, but things should slide out nicely, have some shape, and be void of strange colors and odors)

Are you eating several small meals throughout the day? Or do you skip meals and/or eat a very large meal right before going to bed at night?

Finally…what’s on your plate? A variety of healthy choices or whatever you can grab in a hurry – healthy or not.

If your food choices are not ideal, don’t beat yourself up over it. You can easily decide to make changes starting now. Add in some healthy stuff: a smoothie in the morning that has fruit, vegetables, fiber and protein; snack on almonds and dried figs, vegetables and hummus, or a vegetable soup; and when you feel hungry even when you know you just ate, try drinking some water before reaching for food. Often, that hunger pang could really be a signal to your body that you’re dehydrated.

Eat at least one meal a day together. With a normal 9-5 schedule, this could be dinner. However, if you’re on shift work, choose to eat breakfast or lunch together instead. That time together over a meal is special – don’t cheat yourself out of it! Life’s other demands can wait.

  • Get Proper Dietary Supplements

Even with the best foods, something may be missing. It’s best to work with a nutritionist and/or your doctor to fill in the missing links so you know the supplements you’re taking are aligned with your personal goals and your personal health history.

In your marriage – your daily basics may be great. You have a roof over your head, food on the table, and a routine. This is great. But what could be missing from your otherwise perfect relationship?

Do you spend more time on volunteer activities at the expense of time with your spouse? Do you put in more hours at work (to keep that roof over your head) at the expense of romantic time completely away from the office and totally into your spouse (meaning unplugged?)

Be sure you’re getting all the macro-nutrients as well as those very important micro-nutrients…it’s the little things, after all, that help make big changes to your life.

Massage

When was the last time you treated yourself to a massage? When was the last time you treated yourself to a couples massage?

If it’s been more than a month…it’s time!

Not only does a massage force you to slow down and allow someone to work out the kinks in your body, it’s also therapeutic. Relieving stress and increasing blood flow is important to your personal health as well as the health of your relationship.

Think of it as really great smelling couple’s therapy!