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What if running make you and your partner happier? Can sports strengthen your relationship? We met with Dr Barbach, a psychologist and co-founder of the Happy Couple app. She explained the links between running and relationships.
Runnin’City users, you probably started running for several good reasons: to de-stress, get in shape, lose some weight, strengthen your immune system, improve your cardio… Those are most people’s reasons to start running. As the creators of a sightrunning app, we have some new sources of motivation: one, it is a great way to discover a city and get to know it better, and two, running can improve your relationship.
Whether you run alone or with someone, exercise can make a couple stronger. Dr Barbach tells us about this phenomenon and focuses on the link between running and relationships.
“Exerting yourself helps you release pressure so you are easier to live with.”
Runnin’City: How can sports in general make your relationship stronger?
Dr Barbach: Participating in a sport makes you healthier. A person feels better, stronger, and feeling better means that you’re going to be a better partner with more energy to put into the relationship. You are also likely to feel better about your body, which can increase your sexual interest and satisfaction.
Runnin’City: And running, in particular?
Dr Barbach: Running in particular is good for getting those endorphins surging. Endorphins are your feel good hormones. And again, feeling better, and happier, means that you’re likely to be less stressed, more relaxed and more accepting and easy going when problems come up, as they inevitably do, in a relationship.
“Running together with one’s partner should only be for the pleasure of sharing this activity and their love.”
Runnin’City: Is it a problem if only one of the two lovers is fond of sports?
Dr Barbach: It can be, but it depends upon a number of things. First, how big is the difference between the two people? Is one totally into sports, it occupies almost every waking hour, they are watching it on TV all the time and going to sports events and spending many hours each week actively playing a sport? While the other is a couch potato and has absolutely no interest in even spectator sports? In this case, there is a very great discrepancy between the two people which means that the couple may not have enough activities that they enjoy doing together that gives them pleasure and that they share. It also could mean that they are not spending enough time together to nurture the relationship.
However, If they have other hobbies or activities in common that they both enjoy doing together then a difference in how much they want to participate in sports may not be a big issue.
Runnin’City: There can be differences in ability and motivation in sports, and running in particular. What advice would you give to couples who would like to link running and relationships?
Dr Barbach: When one partner is capable of running faster and harder than the other, it’s not a good idea to plan running together when the objective for that partner is to get their serious exercise in. However when that person decides to do a less intense run, a run just for the pleasure of it and the enjoyment of doing an activity with their partner, it can work out quite well. Running together and relationships are very compatible.
“My experience as a couple’s therapist has allowed me to identify the differences between couples who work well together and those who don’t. I have used this knowledge in helping to create Happy Couple.”
Runnin’City: You are head of content at Happy Couple, and a psychologist. How does your experience help with Happy Couple’s mission.
Dr Barbach: The object of happy couple is to enable partners to learn more about each other, and in doing so, become more accepting of each other, which will lead them to a much happier relationship. They do this through a quiz style game where they guess how their partner will answer a particular question. My psychology background comes into play in the creation of questions that I believe couples are going to find fun and interesting to answer and that will help them understand each other better.
My experience as a couples therapist over many decades has enabled me to determine what separates couples who are happy from those who are unhappy. And I can use this information to provide tips and challenges for our users to integrate into their own relationships.
Learn more about the Happy Couple app, available for free download on the App Store, Google Play, and Windows Store.