In the exercise world, most of us have heard of Cardio exercises. The best kind of cardio exercises are compound exercises, which involve multiple joints and more than one muscle group. “They improve coordination and elevate the heart rate quicker—plus, they allow a person to get a full-body workout in less time and mirror real-life movements,” says Sarah Gawron, an AFAA-certified trainer at Epic Hybrid Training and Solace in New York City. Our heart is the Life-giving organ that circulates blood through our bodies, pumping blood and oxygen to our extremities and internal organs. Our lungs provide the air necessary to sustain life. These two internal organs , working together, give and sustain life. Our cardio system is at the core of our being. We want to relate this to Relational Cardio by which we mean the life and breath of our relationships.
The heart is often associated with love. We draw hearts on notes, we send heart emojis in our text messages. What we are trying to convey when we do this is love. Love is at the heart or core of our relationships and just like in our bodies, it is a muscle that needs to be exercised.
Exercising your relational cardio is important to have a strong healthy growing relationship.
Here are 3 different relationship scenarios and one solid exercise or practice that will help strengthen a relationship in that condition.
How to Have a Strong Healthy Relationship
Now there are many things a couple needs to do in order to have and maintain a strong, healthy relationship but there is one thing that we believe is crucially important for this and that is understanding love languages.
The Five Love Languages is taught in a book by Dr. Gary Chapman where he skillfully explains each of the love languages and how we can effectively utilize them. We are giving a brief overview in this article so if you would like to go deeper and learn all about The Five Love Languages just click here and it will take you to our resource page..
The basic idea with love languages is that everyone has a primary love language that they speak. This is the way they receive and express love so it is important to know your own love language as well as your partner’s. If you don’t know or understand your partner’s love language, it would be like trying to speak Chinese when they only understand English. Become a student of your partner and learn how they receive and express love and you will be amazed at the connection you inspire.
The 5 Love Languages
Words of Affirmation:
It has been said that one of our basic human needs is to feel appreciated. Most people like to hear words of encouragement rather than criticism. Words of affirmation are those things you say to point out a positive trait in your mate. If words of affirmation is your primary love language then praise and admiration are music to your ears and speak love to your heart.
Most of us understand that appropriate physical touch is a common way to express emotional love. It begins in infancy. Studies show that babies who are held, snuggled, and kissed develop healthier emotionally than those who are left alone and isolated. Physical touch might be holding hands or putting your arm around your spouse. It could be a back massage or simply touching a shoulder as you pass by. It doesn’t have to be complicated to have a great impact.
Acts of Service
Acts of service is about doing things you know your spouse would like you to do. It may be tasks around the house like cooking, cleaning or taking care of the kids. Or it could be other things like keeping the car clean or the gas tank full or making sure the oil gets changed on time. It might be taking out the trash without being asked and knowing which day is trash day. For the person whose love language is Acts of Service, actions definitely speak louder than words.
This is not so much about being in the same room together as it is about giving your partner your undivided attention. Being fully present when you are together makes it possible to greatly increase your connection. Set your distractions aside so you can focus on your partner.
For some people receiving gifts is a high priority. They love receiving a special something because they know it took time, thought and effort from their partner. It’s much more about being thought of than about the actual gift. So it doesn’t have to be an audacious present to have a huge impact.
How to Rekindle a Dying Relationship
Again, there are many things that can and need to be done to rekindle a dying relationship. We are just highlighting one of those ideas to get you started.
Those of us who are married took vows at our wedding ceremony. Although there are many variations of wedding ceremonies, most include the same concepts. One of the things we vow to do for our spouse is to cherish them. It usually goes something like, “I promise to love, honor and cherish you as long as we both shall live.” What does it mean to cherish our spouse? What does that look like?
To cherish, by definition, means “to protect and care for someone lovingly, to hold something dear.” We often think of cherishing our spouse as something a husband does for a wife. However, both husband and wife take the vow and make the promise. Why is we think of it as a “man thing?” Perhaps it is because of the word protect and how we associate that with the husband protecting the wife. But husbands need protection too. How about protecting their reputation or protecting their feelings? As a wife, if you are making jokes at your husband’s expense, you are not cherishing him. Of course, this goes both ways. If a husband is making fun of his wife in public, he is not cherishing her.
Our words and actions are important in this area. To cherish someone is to show them value, to be considerate of them in every way. Being critical or demeaning is the opposite of cherishing. Look for ways to show appreciation, to encourage, to lift up your spouse and they will feel cherished.
How to Rebuild a Broken Relationship
The third scenario is How to Rebuild a Broken Relationship. Obviously, there would be many tactics and ideas for things that would need to be done to rebuild a broken relationship. We are going to focus on a great starting point and that is nurturing an attitude of gratitude.
The definition of gratitude is “the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.” When you are in a broken relationship, these feelings may seem counter-intuitive but stay with us as we explain how it can work for you.
"Attitudes of Gratitude"
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In this video we discuss the power one person has in a relationship to change its trajectory. This is Robin’s story of one exercise that transformed our marriage.
Our Story - How Robin Began Rebuilding Our Broken Relationship
I’d like to tell you a story from our past that helps illustrate the idea of being grateful for your spouse. Darrell and I had been married just a short time, maybe 3 or 4 years. Within that time we had relocated twice to different states. We were attending Bible College in Colorado Springs, Colorado and we found ourselves in a very dark place in our relationship. We were both working full-time and both attending college. Even though we were working toward the same goals, we found ourselves very far apart from one another. We were focused on our jobs and school and did not make time for each other. It didn’t seem like there was any time available.
We were like two ships that pass in the night — no communication, no intimacy, not even any kindness toward one another. We were sharing the same house but that was about it. We were both feeling lonely and isolated and did not have the skills to know how to fix it.
I was taking classes in women’s studies and one of my classes was about relationships. My professor gave us an assignment that I am extremely thankful for even 30 years later! In class, we were discussing problems that can occur in marriage such as we were experiencing. The assignment she gave was to create a gratitude list of things we loved about our husbands. Well, my first thought was, “I can’t do that! I can’t even think of anything!” However, I wanted to get good grades so I knew I would have to complete the assignment. So I went home and started a list. I’m not kidding when I say I had a hard time thinking of anything. With some thought, I was able to come up with the first item on the list. That was it! One thing.
So the assignment was not just to write a list but then to review the list every day, several times a day. As I started to do this, concentrating on my one item, I began to think of other character qualities or traits that I appreciated about Darrell. Over time, I had a list of 10 things that I was reviewing each day. Now how did this happen? I had been consumed with negative thoughts before creating my list. The gratitude list helped me focus on the positive side of things and once you do that, the negative begins to fade to the background. It is not that everything is rosy and there is no negative but it is no longer the focus.
As I thought more positively toward my husband, I started acting more positively toward my husband. Then I started verbalizing some of the qualities I admired and showed appreciation to him. Guess what happened? He liked it and was drawn to his newly positive wife. I didn’t tell him about the list until many years later but it was definitely a turning point in our marriage, one for which we are both very thankful.
So we want to encourage you, whatever the current status of your relationship, to create a gratitude list. Since we are nearing Thanksgiving, it is the perfect time of year to start your list. If you can’t think of 10 items, just start with one. Then over time, keep adding to your list. Read it every day to remind yourself of its truth. You will be amazed at the effect it has on your attitude, your outlook and your relationship.