By Susie and Otto Collins for YourTango.com

If taking nurturing, good care of yourself is something you know you should do, but don't actually do (until you get sick or break down in exhaustion), listen up! Regular self-care is not only essential to your own health, well-being and sanity, it's vital for your relationship, too.

Perhaps one reason why you don't take the time you really need is because you're spending the free time you do have with your partner. There are only so many hours in your already-crammed-full day, and when you have a spare hour or so, that becomes couple time. We absolutely agree with that! In order for a love relationship or marriage to survive and thrive, the couple needs to create and make the most of their quality time together. However, the connection-potential is erased when one person (or both) is yearning for some nourishing and soul-replenishing alone time instead. Here's the challenge and opportunity:

When you feel torn between your own need to recharge with time alone and your desire to be with your beloved, no one wins. To do something for yourself while being guilt-tripped isn't going to truly nourish you. You'll spend that precious moment of solitude worrying that your partner feels rejected or neglected. And to put off self-care (yet again) to be with your partner could build resentment in you both. You'll start to see your partner as an obstacle to what you desperately want and aren't getting, and he or she will sense your resistance and feel confused and disconnected from you.

Nobody wins when you don't honor your need for self-care. There is a solution to this turmoil and it's actually the key to an amazing and close passionate relationship. The key? Become a self-care couple.

A self-care couple understands that self-nurturing isn't an extra luxury, but a necessity. Both recognize that solitude isn't a threat to their relationship, but rather, beneficial to connection. When you and your partner take a wider view and consider the ways that self-care provides renewal, which then translates to more openness and greater availability to one another, then everything becomes easier. Your entire relationship becomes more joyful and delightful.

Factor it in early in your relationship; talk about self-care. Once you officially become a couple, talk about what frequency and level of self-care each of you requires to be at your best. Give one another (and yourselves) permission to do what you need to do to nourish and renew.

Keep in mind that what your beloved considers to be self-care may look very different from what you prefer. Don't make him feel badly if his me-time involves going over to a friend's house once a week to play cards. And just because her form of self-care doesn't have her sitting on a meditation pillow or zafu, it doesn't mean it's invalid. Do create clear agreements so that whatever each of you does to recharge is in alignment with your relationship commitment, but don't get judgmental. Be accepting and allow time for self-care. Just as you schedule in date nights and get-aways for just the two of you, make room on the calendar for you and your partner to nourish yourselves in solitude or with friends if you choose.

A really wonderful possibility when it comes to self-care is that it doesn't have to be something you only do alone. So much depends on what you're craving at the moment, but find self-care activities that you and your partner can do together. How about giving one another back massages? This doesn't have to be a prelude to lovemaking, but it can if you're both open to that. You could have a homemade spa night complete with facials, bubble baths and whatever helps you both unwind. If you both enjoy music, light a few candles, turn off the lights and just sit and soak in melodies and rhythms that move you and feed your soul. This can even be a form of meditation.

Many people prefer more active forms of self-care. Go for a run together or play a vigorous game of tennis or even touch football together. Moving your body and exercising is a way to get out of your head and some even find it meditative and spiritual.

Find a mix of sharing self-care and time alone that feels good to you both. Remember, you don't have to sacrifice your personal well-being for the sake of your relationship. With mindful communication and an openness to possibilities, you'll discover that self-care is what makes your relationship as wonderful as it is!

Regular self-care is one way to avoid the death of passion in your long-term love relationship or marriage. More tips for keeping the spark alive are in our free ebook: Passionate Spark~Lasting Love. Get it at: www.relationshipgold.com

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