Running as Couples Therapy - Edge of Wellness

Running as Couples Therapy

All couples have problems. There is no such thing as a perfect relationship, and literally, all relationships take effort on both person’s part. Within this article, I am specifically focusing on romantic partnerships. Still, you can apply this to just about any close relationship in your life.

While communication is critical for any healthy partnership, I cannot express the importance of quality time with your significant other. Ideally, this time allows you to move while discussing issues that need to be addressed. My partner and I have discovered the power of running while hashing out disagreements, sharing feelings, and handling conflicts.

Running as Couples Therapy

running as couples therapy

I want to first acknowledge that running is not for everyone, which is totally cool. Pick an activity you both somewhat enjoy that gets you moving and allows you to talk. Maybe for you, that is just taking a walk, but for us, it’s running.

For the last two years, on and off, my husband and I have gone for a daily run together. In many ways, this has been so good for us. It has allowed us to enjoy a healthy hobby together. We can bond over the activity and help one another set goals and achieve them. Not only has running become a way for us to become closer by spending more one-on-one time together, but it has helped us confront issues in our relationship. 

Running has become the perfect time to hash out issues we may be experiencing. It allows us to physically get energy out and talk out our feelings while being active. 

Why Movement Matters

There are countless benefits of moving. One of which is mental clarity. Moving can help you think better, and I have found this true in many areas of my life. I feel and think better when I am moving. My solo runs, for example, are a time when I am alone with my thoughts. During this time, I can solve problems I have been experiencing, have creative ideas, manage tasks I need to finish, and anything else that pops into my head.

The same is true for the runs with my partner. 

Why Running Works for Couples Therapy

As I mentioned above, studies have stated we just think better when moving, which can explain why communicating may be better when running. For us, this is why it seems to work:

  • You can’t run away (pun intended). We are out there together to achieve a common goal. We are stuck together for the duration of the run. It forces you to stay in an uncomfortable situation. In typical situations, the option to walk away is there, but that is not an option here.
  • It gives you time to think. For one, you are out of breath, limiting your ability to speak and making you a better listener, but a quick response is not necessary. You are out there until your run is done. You have time to just think. You can process what your partner is saying, how you are feeling and think about your response before vocalizing it.
  • Getting energy out. The act of running can help release emotional stress. It feels as though you can run the anger or frustration away after vocalizing it.
  • You are alone. It is much easier to talk through emotions and issues when it is just you two. I understand that this can be a challenge for parents. You may need to get creative by performing an indoor activity together before the kids wake up or go to sleep.
  • Communication routine. It becomes a routine for you and your partner to talk. This time does not always have to be for discussing negative issues, but you and your partner have time to just talk about anything.

Communication is Critical

Running has been a blessing for my relationship with my husband. Still, it’s important to remember that communication matters the most. Running will not solve the problem if you are unkind to your partner or yourself.

Remember to take a moment to simply listen. Try not to plan your response, avoid putting up the defensive wall, and just listen. Think about what they need and how you can best serve their needs without getting defensive.

We are all a work in progress, and so is every relationship. Keep trying and keep aiming to be a better version of yourself every day.