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Food, glorious food! It’s one of the wonderful necessities of life. We eat throughout our marriage and relationships and, well, every part of our lives. Yet so few people in Western society take the opportunity to use this shared experience to strengthen their relationships.
You may well have done the exciting and romantic dates in the early days at all your favourite restaurants as you gazed hopefully and lovingly into each other’s eyes. What about the every-day upkeep of our relationships? We all eat, yet how often do we sit down to a home-cooked meal without the TV and yes here I go again – or any screen?
I realise they’ve made our lives easier to be kept up to date, entertained - oh and work anytime. Please do not fall into the trap of living under an unnecessary sense of urgency. It can put you in chronic toxic stress and make you sick—and give you terrible indigestion.
This article is all about “Uniting Through Food” (UTF) using the amazing, tasty power of food to help unite with your partner and strengthen your relationship so read on then sing along at the end...
Make Your Own Meals
Step One to UTF is to make your own more often. There are a lot of great benefits to home cooking:
Hands up who eats in front of the TV or accompanied by a screen! Pretty much everyone? Thought so.
Did you know you can light a candle and eat face-to-face at home, too? Crazy concept I know!
Eating at the dinner table — or any table. How about next to each other at a kitchen bench, whatever you’ve got going on — is a great time to talk and catch up. These days you can record it, watch catch up TV and find the news on the plethora of Apps available a little later.
Give the gift of your presence. Talk at the table. Listen to each other. You will thank yourself later!
Some of the best conversations you’ll have will be over a meal. It’s universally acknowledged as a great time to discuss a variety of topics, particularly difficult ones. Hunger makes us irritable and distracted. If we’re eating, we’re much more open to concepts and ideas. Don’t underestimate the psychological and emotional benefits, namely social connection, intellectual stimulation, relaxation and romance.
Another added health bonus is that talking over a meal is a good way of slowing down how fast you eat. It takes a little while before your body realises it is full, which can lead to overeating if you’re not paying attention. Conversation slows how fast you eat and allows your body to signal your stomach is “full” before you get the chance to over stuff yourself.
Step Three: Create an Atmosphere
I mentioned briefly the idea of lighting a candle while eating. Let’s take that further!
Restaurants are great for their mood, but if you want a different feel you have to go to a different restaurant. You know what’s even better? Your house. You can set any atmosphere at any time you want.
Want a candle-lit dinner without any candles? Use the dimmer.
Want to create a relaxed atmosphere after a long day at work? Put on your favourite chill music and pop open your drink of choice.
Want to feel sophisticated? Throw on some classical.
I’ve suggested to eat at the table or a bench, but why not try something different? Eat on the floor. The kids will love that! Roll out a blanket and have a picnic in your own living room or outside.
Does it seem strange? Sure, but how many times in your life have you done something just a bit off-kilter and felt a certain sense of liberation? A nice spread of snackable food for a meal on the floor is a great way to mix up routine. Throw done some cushions and lounge about, talk, drink.
Just because you’ve chosen not to watch TV or use your phones while eating doesn’t mean you have to be strictly formal. Loosening up in this way really helps you relax and escape your daily grind. Try it some time.
Coming together to eat a lovingly hand-made meal, with your ideal atmosphere, in the comfort of your own home, can do wonders to strengthen your relationship. Relax and unwind whilst creating something special and meaningful (and tasty) for your partner and yourself.
Step Four – Make it a HABIT!
It’s all wonderful to read this, set your intention to “eat together more often.” Why not hand write a specific goal, ie “Eat together as a family at the table three times per week on a Tuesday…”. Paste this up on the fridge for ALL to see and practice, practice, practice. Keep each other accountable and after 30 days, it’ll be the start of the norm of UTF for you!
Oh – and just for fun, if you need a few songs to inspire your, try these:
Banana pancakes by Jack Johnson.
The Mango Tango by Sesame Street.
Food, Glorious, Food: Oliver! the Musical
Have Children? Here’s some rather convincing information to support why you should UTF with them in THIS article.
Joanne Wilson is a Sunshine Coast professional Counsellor and Psychotherapist with a keen interest in relationships and pre-marriage therapy. She is often found contributing through guest speaking invitations and has also produced her own books, Pearls of Wisdom from the Thriving Thirties, The Relationship Rejuvenator E-Book and presented a series of relationship seminars.
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