I love New Years resolutions. I’ve actually made a hobby of them over the past few years. Last year, for example, I resolved to become an expert on 12 different topics throughout the year, one for each month. I spend the first month learning everything I could about Elliott Smith. That was amazing and depressing. Then I tried becoming an expert on “the history of the world.” That was foolish. By spring, I was done learning stuff.
I’ve tried many more mundane resolutions as well, including everything from flossing more to skydiving. I’ve done the usual ones like losing weight or getting better at time management. I’ve tried drinking more water and less alcohol. (I can’t seem to kick Diet Coke though.) One year, I even resolved to smile more.
My best year was probably 2011. That year I had two resolutions. The first had to do with swimming, my exercise of choice. I decided to attempt 2,011 flip turns through the year—yes, I counted every one—and by mid-August, I’d finally figured it out. That same year I resolved to send 211 handwritten postcards to people around the country. I sent a different card to a different person on 211 different days. I sent my final postcard on December 30th. Highly recommended.
All that to say, I’ve got lots of ideas. But when Verily asked me what resolutions women should or could make to their husbands, I could only think of one: Take good care of yourself.
The absolute best thing a woman can resolve to do for herself or for her spouse is to take good care of her body. Her mind. Her soul. Her self. I want to emphasize that taking good care of yourself is not selfish. At least, it’s not necessarily selfish. It is, however, necessary. It’s simply the best way to bring the most honesty and integrity to your relationships. As a therapist, I have the most hope for couples where both partners know themselves and are living fully as differentiated human beings. So if you’re going to make a resolution to your partner, resolve to take good care…
…of your body.
This isn’t “lose weight” or “be pretty” or whatever lie you may be buying about how your worth is attached to your image. Taking care of your body is about protecting your overall health for the long run. Get a physical. And a massage. Exercise primarily to keep your muscles and bones in working order. Stretch. Strengthen your core. Brush. Floss. If you miss a day or a week, no big deal, just start over. Eat good food. Drink more water and less alcohol. (And it’s probably best if you give up Diet Coke altogether.) Don’t give up on your body; it will begin to quit before your mind does, and your spouse wants both around for as long as possible.
…of your mind.
Did you know women invented writing? They also invented music, poetry, cloth, medicine, cooking, baking, and the technologies for making beer and wine. Women are smart. Smart is sexy. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Especially not your partner. He may not know it, but he needs an intellectual equal (if not a superior) in his life. Take good care of your mind. Read books for pleasure. Understand the stock market (economics) and the curveball (physics) and your local school board (politics) better than he does. Knowledge is power, but taking good care of your mind isn’t simply about knowledge. It’s also about wisdom. Practice the art of conversation. And of curiosity. Ask profound questions of yourself, your partner, and your world.
…of your soul.
It is critically important that you take care of your soul. This is where your values and dreams live. And where your integrity comes from. When I say integrity, I mean structural integrity, core strength, consistency between beliefs and actions. How will you nurture your soul? Will you pray? Meditate? Volunteer? Donate? Perhaps you will hire a therapist or a life coach. Maybe you’ll join a support group or a wilderness club or a church. Taking care of your soul, is finding space to let your inner world breathe and find expression. If you do not do this, you will dry up and ultimately you won’t have enough energy, life, or love to share with a partner.
Your partner wants your best you. He wants you fully alive. Healthy. Whole. He wants a teammate. And an adversary. He wants you to have his back and to call his bluff. You can only do this if you know yourself fully and you’re living fully as a differentiated human being. I don’t think that’s possible without nurturing your body, your mind, your soul, and your self. Then prepare for a great year ahead.
I’d love to hear about your resolutions. Feel free to drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet me @kzbrittle using #takegoodcare. Also, I have about 100 postcards leftover from 2011. Let me know if you want one and I’ll resolve to send it to you sometime next year. In the meantime, take good care.