‘Pair Care’ Is Self-Care for Couples, and Here’s Why It’s So Important

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By now you’re well-versed in self-care. You know, the practice of prioritizing your own needs above martyrdom, anxiety and general societal “shoulds.” And if that leads you to draw a giant bubble bath and binge-read Kristin Hannah, so be it. But what if you’re part of a couple? Should you each retreat to separate bubble baths or cozy up together in one single, metaphorical (or not) tub? Here, the case for “pair care,” or getting selfish, together.

What is pair care? Pair care is anything you and your partner do together that prioritizes your relationship’s needs above anything else. So it might be bailing on a friend’s party in order to have that big convo you keep putting off. Or it might be banning cell phones in the bedroom, so you can spend more time connecting emotionally and, um, in other ways.

Why is it important? According to researchers at the University of Virginia’s National Marriage Project, couples that report the highest levels of generosity were far and away the most likely to report being “very happy” together. The highest predictors for divorce? Contempt, stonewalling and criticism. In other words, the more time you prioritize doing nice things for both of you and talking through issues together (rather than ignoring them or thinking you’re above them), the stronger your relationship will be.

Got it. So what are some other ways to practice it? Schedule sex, meditate together, sleep in, cook a healthy meal, try a joint workout (plogging, anyone?), watch a movie, turn down plans that feel like obligations, text each other what you’re grateful for, skip Thanksgiving with his parents and book a flight to Maui. To put it bluntly: Y’all do y’all.

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jillian quint

Editor-in-Chief, Avid Reader, Wallpaper Enthusiast

Jillian Quint is the Editor-in-Chief of PureWow, where she oversees the editorial staff and all the fabulous content you read every day. Jillian began her career as a book editor...