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In our last several blog posts, we’ve introduced you to the seven pillars of connection that create the foundation of every romantic relationship — and are central to our work here at Core Values Counseling. 


Each of needs to feel connection with our partner in seven distinct areas:

  1. Emotional Connection
  2. Relational Connection
  3. Spiritual Connection
  4. Physical Connection 
  5. Sexual Connection
  6. Financial Connection
  7. Recreational Connection


Today, we’re covering the fourth pillar: Physical Connection.


Physical connection (not to be mistaken for sexual connection — we’ll get to that in a couple weeks!) is all about caring for your physical body and connecting with your partner in ways that foster good health, wellbeing, and mental resilience. 


This spring, we’re coming out of what was, for many of us, a very long, hard, cold winter where no one felt like being outside. In Oregon, at least, many of us tend to be fair-weather sports people. We retreat indoors through the gray, rainy winter, but as soon as the sun hits, people start flocking outdoors to play. That’s exactly what happened here in western Oregon a couple weeks ago during a particularly delicious, sun-soaked stretch of weather. 


The change of seasons is so energizing. It’s a good idea to think about this metaphorically in your relationship, too. What does it look like to move out of a wintery period in your relationship? What does it feel like to come from a dark night of the soul experience, or a dark point in your relationship, into new rhythms of life?


The past couple of years have been a very hard period in my life. My brother died suddenly in 2020. He was the glue in our family, and losing him really rocked my world. And then, of course, there was the pandemic. 


Coming out of all that, it’s been really difficult for me to get into new rhythms of life. For quite a while, I’ve wanted to just hole up in my comfy bed under a down comforter with my favorite podcast or Netflix. 


But lately, I’ve felt a renewing of my spirit and a readiness to say goodby to that wintery time in my soul, as well as in my relationship with Eric. 


And I’m so glad that shift has come. See, my state of mind impacts my relationship with Eric. He can’t drag me out of bed. (He knows that that would not be a good thing to do!) He’s waited patiently for me to join him in some routines for physical health and exercise. With the sunnier weather these past few weeks, that’s looked like meandering about our neighborhood at twilight on some lovely walks. These little moments of connection have been wonderful, both physically and emotionally. 


And, frankly, it’s easier to do when the weather is better! Thank goodness for spring. 


(That said, my youngest son and his family are great about getting outdoors in any weather, so don’t let a little rain deter you. As the saying goes, “There’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing.”)


Perhaps you’re feeling a similar shift in your spirit as the weather moves solidly into spring (and creeps toward summer!). Now is a wonderful time to take note of what you can do individually for your own personal health because that flows into every relationship in your life, particularly your relationship with your partner. 


When we get outside to infuse our lungs with fresh air and appreciate new growth and soak up the warmth of the sun on our back, we feel better about our physical health. It’s what we need! I think of how rejuvenating it is every time I step into Forest Park and smell the fragrant firs and warm, earthy scent of the forest floor renewing itself. Forest bathing is real, my friends! 


And if you’re lucky enough to live in the Pacific Northwest, you’re spoiled for choice on beautiful places to explore. In fact, the Trust for Public Land ranked the top 100 most populous U.S. cities in terms of equity, access, investment, amenities, and acreage, and Portland claimed spot #11 on the list (Seattle ranks #9). 90% of Portland residents live within a 10-minute walk of a park (compared to the national average of 55%). 


So get out there and enjoy the green space. Set the intention of being physically active as often as possible. Even moderate exercise reduces stress and raises endorphin levels, making us happier people to connect with. 


What do you and your partner love to do to be active? 


My oldest friend and her family have tandem bikes, and they go riding together everywhere. It’s inspiring. 


This year, I challenged myself to do more biking (I actually just bought a used bike at a garage sale!) and to get back on skis. Over the winter, I went skiing with my family for the first time in 25 years, and it was so invigorating! I was amazed at how quickly I picked it back up (just like riding a bike!). I felt like I was in some sort of time warp because it was like I’d never stopped skiing in the first place. What a treat!


These little moments of adventure have really renewed my joy for active pursuits, and they’ve made me feel young again! I’m inspired to get out and do more of the things I’ve always loved but, honestly, kind of forgot about.


I’d encourage you to pick up an old hobby, take a scenic drive to that little town you’ve been meaning to go to, or even just spend a little more time in your own backyard.


If you need suggestions on ways to be more active, resources like Travel Oregon or The Outside Guide to Urban Adventure offer some terrific ideas.


In the greater Portland area, there are countless places to hike, run, soak in hot springs, kayak or SUP, swim, and rock climb. Seek out places to go that give you and your partner ways to infuse your life with physical activity and natural beauty. 


Even if physical activity presents a challenge for you, it’s still a great idea to go for a scenic drive. Head for a beautiful spot to watch the sunrise or listen to ocean waves crash against the shore or watch the city lights come on in the evening. 


Appreciate the beauty of creation, however you can. Your body and your partner will thank you for it!