Typically, when people think of a nighttime routine, little children are who come to mind. Yet the reality is this is something that can be super beneficial for us as adults too. While I will be sure to put one together for us single folks sooner than later, today, I wanna offer up some tips for married couples. The reason why is simple. No matter how many husbands and wives that I work with, if there's a common thread that's among them all, it's the fact that they suck when it comes to going to bed. What I mean by that is, unless it's for the purpose of sex, a lot of them don't go to bed together and, if they do, they treat their bedroom either like another home office (laptops and work stuff all over the place) or an entertainment center (watching TV and constantly scrolling online). None of this creates a truly relaxing environment nor does it encourage couples to get in a few moments of intimacy together.
So, let's do it. Let's explore 12 ways that spouses can come up with a nighttime routine that can help them to chill out, sleep better and get closer to one another in the process.
1. Schedule in 30-60 Minutes Together. Every Night.
Around this time last year, I wrote an article entitled "7 Things Married Couples Should Do...At The END Of Their Day". One of the things I mentioned that really can't be expressed enough is the importance of carving out 30 minutes for nothing but quality time — and no, sitting in front of the television doesn't count. The reality is that couples, on average, only spend 2 ½ hours together and that includes the weekends. That's why it comes as absolutely no shock to me that some couples contemplate divorce, simply on the basis of "we grew apart". I mean, how were you gonna get closer if you don't even talk? You schedule in work. You schedule in exercise. You should definitely schedule in quality time with your partner. Making that a part of your nighttime routine is a way to make that happen.
2. Share ONE Need That You Have. THAT Day.
If needs never switched up, our spouse would be able to easily satisfy — as they do the same thing for us — on the daily. However, that isn't even close to being the case. Since no one is a mind-reader (no matter how much some people may think that there are), it's important that you and your boo are given the floor to articulate what your needs may be.
The reason why I think that this is an important part of a nighttime routine is because couples often don't get to really mentally and emotionally connect until they are doing some pillow talking (which is another reason why I think it's important for couples to turn in together, at least a couple of times a night, every week). And why did I say just ONE need? Because you don't want to overwhelm your partner, especially right before they are turning in. Stating one thing gives them enough information to be able to "take your temperature" and ponder without feeling super burdened down. It oftentimes can give them insight on how to approach you the following day as well. And vice versa.
3. Sip on Some Herbal Tea
I mean, I could list red wine here because it can help lull you to sleep (or get you pretty horny) yet at the risk of not trying to turn our readers into a lush, how about some herbal tea instead? While it's not uncommon for some of us to snack on junk food (all sugar and carbs are really gonna do is stimulate you), even while sitting in the bed, teas like chamomile, lemon balm, passionflower, peppermint and kava all contain properties that will relax your nerves and calm your mind. And if you add some honey to your cups, believe it or not, it will provide your brain with enough energy to keep you from waking up (funny how that works, huh?).
4. Put on Some Music
I spend quite a bit of time just randomly researching stuff. Something that I found to be interesting is there happens to be one song that has received constant raves for making people fall asleep. It's called "Weightless" and it's by a Manchester-based band called Marconi Union (it happens to be a whopping 10-hours long, by the way). Anyway, whether it's that or some other kind of playlist that is soothing to you, even if you only listen while getting ready for bed, because soft music is scientifically proven to regulate your hormones (including your stress hormones), if you and your boo have had a hard day, listening to some music together definitely couldn't hurt.
5. Read Together
Here's the thing about this particular point. There's a study that says that spending six minutes reading before turning in can reduce your stress levels by as much as almost 70 percent. Meanwhile, the blue light that comes from your television screen can jack up your melatonin levels and make it more difficult to fall and/or stay asleep. This is just one more reason to either get or keep your television out of your bedroom. As far as reading goes, there is something very romantic and sweet about a couple who decides to cuddle up and read a chapter or two of a book together. When's the last time you and yours did that? Hmm.
6. Swap Out Your Lamp’s Light Bulb
After the two of you have read something, swap out your lamp's bulb to something that is a little more romantically erotic like maybe a purple, blue or even red. It only takes a couple of seconds and can definitely put you and your spouse into the mood of relaxing — or something-else-ing. Speaking of something-else-ing, if you're curious about which color bulb will boost your libido the most, word on the street is that it's orange. Interesting.
7. Incorporate Some Aromatherapy
Something that easily takes more of my money than it should are AirWicks. I like that I can just plug them in and not worry about having to blow them out like candles or that they will create any smoke like incense. That said, whether it's a scented plug-in, a scented soy candle, an oil diffuser, some incense or even sprinkling some essential oil onto your bedding, make sure that you incorporate some aromatherapy into your bedroom space, each and every night. It reduces stress, helps to manage pain, treats headaches and migraines, decreases anxiety and yes, can improves your quality of sleep if you do it on a regular basis; especially if you incorporate it in the way that you're about to check out in the next point.
8. Give Each Other a Hand or Foot Massage
By definition, aromatherapy isn't just about appealing to your sense of smell via plant extracts/essential oils; it's about using these things to allow them to be absorbed through your skin too. This is where a hand and/or foot massage comes in.
By rubbing on the pressure points in your partner's hand, you can help to reduce bodily discomfort and decrease their stress levels. By rubbing the pressure points in their feet, you can assist in increasing blood circulation, reducing tension, fighting depression-related symptoms, reducing swelling and promoting a better night's sleep.
This is especially the case if you rub them down with some lavender oil (7-10 drops) mixed with a carrier oil like sweet almond oil or avocado oil (1/3 cup). The reason why lavender is so effective is it actually increases what is known as "slow-wave sleep" which, at the end of the day, helps to slow your heart rate down and relax your muscles. If you and your spouse take out 5-7 minutes, every night, to do this, there's no telling how much better you'll both feel in the morning! For tips on how to give a hand massage, click here. As far as the feet go, check out this video here.
9. Tell Each Other Something You’re Grateful for (in Your Relationship)
A novelist by the name of Cynthia Ozick once said, "We often take for granted the very things that most deserve our gratitude." I agree because I can't tell you how many times I have looked at a couple and been like, "When is the last time you actually focused on the good about your relationship — and each other? Lawd." There are many mental health experts who say that our brains are automatically wired to see the down/negative side of things. You know what this means, right? If we want to keep a positive outlook on our relationships, we've got to be intentional about seeing the good. One way to put this into practice is to commit to not closing your eyes for the night without verbally expressing to your spouse something about them that you are grateful for. Make sure you're being sincere. Avoid adding any "buts" to the end of your statement. And don't say the same thing, night after night. You know, they say that it's hard to stay angry or irritated when you're laughing. Same point applies to when you're in a state of gratitude.
10. Turn on a Fan
OK, so I am definitely the person who will set my thermostat to 68 degrees and still have a fan on while I'm sleeping. I like the room to be cold and then to snuggle up in a comforter.
The two main reasons why I think this should be incorporated into a couple's nighttime routine is 1) the room being cooler makes it easier to want to generate some body heat (if you know what I mean) and 2) the sound of a fan can produce white noise.
White noise is dope because it has the ability to drown out any other "background noises" that might make falling asleep difficult.
11. Cuddle. Even If Only for a Little While.
If you've ever heard that it's not the best idea to get anything larger than a queen size bed when you're married, there is some truth to that. Unless one or both of you are very large or tall, choosing a bed that puts distance between you can keep you from touching while you sleep and, on some levels, that can affect intimacy. However, whether you prefer to be up under each other or to kinda do your own thing as you sleep, do make it a part of your nighttime routine to cuddle, at least for 10 minutes. Cuddling also reduces stress. Not only that but it can boost immunity, lower blood pressure, encourage candidness in communication, relieve physical pain and make you hornier. So, whether it's spooning, hugging, putting your head on your man's chest or some other cuddling position, try and get into it for a little while every night. If the two of you are naked, even better!
12. Wake Up At Least 15 Minutes Earlier to Pray Together
Even if you're not the most religious person on the planet, there's no way around the fact that many studies point to there being many health benefits when it comes to prayer. It can boost your self-confidence, make you more empathic, release anxiety, make you more positive and even increase your longevity. There's a Scripture in the Bible that says, "For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them." (Matthew 18:20 — NKJV) Starting off your day by praying with your partner can give you the assurance that you both are closer to the Lord while doing what can benefit your mind, body and spirit, long-term. Can't think of a better reason to make this the cap on your daily nighttime routine. Can you?
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After being a regular contributor for about four years and being (eh hem) MIA in 2022, Shellie is back penning for the platform (did you miss her? LOL).
In some ways, nothing has changed and in others, everything has. For now, she'll just say that she's working on the 20th anniversary edition of her first book, she's in school to take life coaching to another level and she's putting together a platform that supports and encourages Black men because she loves them from head to toe.
Other than that, she still works with couples, she's still a doula, she's still not on social media and her email contact (email@example.com) still hasn't changed (neither has her request to contact her ONLY for personal reasons; pitch to the platform if you have story ideas).
Life is a funny thing but if you stay calm, moments can come full circle and this is one of them. No doubt about it.
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Here's Why Very Few Relationships Can Actually Be 'Platonic'
Recently, while in an interview, someone asked me if I think that men and women can be just friends. I didn’t even hesitate to answer; my response was immediate, “Absolutely.” What I followed that up with is what intrigued them — “Life has taught me that not a lot of male/female dynamics are ‘platonic,’ though.” When they asked me to expound, the interview ended up taking a whole ‘nother turn.
As a writer who really pays attention to word meanings, something that can be a bit frustrating about our culture is the fact that based on whatever is popular at the time, folks will just up and change the original definitions of words to suit a particular agenda or whim — and the word “platonic” 1000 percent fits into this category. And perhaps that’s why we seem to continue to go in circles about whether or not people of the opposite sex can (and should) be friends and what that even can (and should) look like.
Let’s talk about it for a bit. Because as a word-literal type of individual, while again, I absolutely believe that men and women can be friends, at the same time, I think it’s about as rare as a red diamond to truly find yourself in a friendship that is…platonic.
It’s Time (More) Folks Knew What ‘Platonic’ LITERALLY MeansGiphy
So, let's do first things first — let's define what it literally means for something to be platonic. If you go to your favorite search engine and put something along the lines of "What does platonic mean?", the first thing that you're (probably) going to see is a ton of dictionary definitions that say something along the lines of "of, relating to, or being a relationship marked by the absence of romance or sex" (Merriam-Webster), "designating or of a relationship, or love, between a man and a woman that is purely spiritual or intellectual and without sexual activity" (Your Dictionary) and, my personal favorite, "purely spiritual; free from sensual desire, especially in a relationship between two persons of different sexes" (Dictionary). Yeah, bookmark that last one; I'll be circling back.
Keeping this in mind (and please do), where does the word "platonic" actually come from? From what I've researched, the philosopher Plato once penned something entitled "Symposium." In it, he addressed the topic of two people sharing the kind of love that is free of any type of sensual desire, one that is based on divine love alone. An author from the 1800s broke it down this way: "Platonic love meant ideal sympathy; it now means the love of a sentimental young gentleman for a woman he cannot or will not marry." A write-up on Merriam-Webster's site stated that "The term platonic was initially used to mock non-sexual relationships, as it was considered ridiculous to separate love and sex, but eventually this connotation faded away leaving us with today's notion of close friendships." Yeah, we used to live in a culture where love and sex were not separated. Hmph, that's another article for another time, though (check out "We Should Really Rethink The Term' Casual Sex'").
Anyway, as with many things (especially in our culture), the word "platonic" is kind of used in "broad strokes" these days (bromances, female friendships, etc.). However, because there continues to be this forever discussion — and oftentimes debate — about whether or not men and women can be "just friends," I'm going to tackle this topic strictly from that angle — from the place where platonic actually originated.
Yes, Men and Women Can Be Just Friends. But…Giphy
At this stage in my life, I'm pretty sure that I have more male friends than female ones. There are layers of reasons why, yet I think a huge one is because I like the balance that masculinity brings to my femininity (especially as I'm learning to embrace different aspects of my femininity, intentionally even more). And while every single one of my male friends is respectful and is a super safe space in my world on every single level that I can imagine (and have been for years now), there are probably only a couple who I would say 100 percent qualify as being…trulyplatonic.
Why would I say that? Well, I'll illustrate this point with something that one of my male friends once said to me. He's super cute. He can sing his ass off (and definitely has one of my favorite speaking voices). People see us out together often, and some have told us that they assume that we've had something going on at some point. Anyway, after hearing someone share their theory about us, I told it to him.
Me: "I told him, 'He's my brother. We would never mess around.'"
My Friend: "Correction, you are like a sister. You are not my sister, though. Under the right conditions, you could still get it."
When I shared that exchange with another male friend of mine, he basically cosigned on the sentiment: "Shellie, I have never approached you like that because I really respect you. I want to be good for you for the rest of our lives." (That reminds me: check out "Question: Is The Man In Your Life Good 'TO' You? Good 'FOR' You? Or...Both?" when you get a chance.)
Then I went to one more guy homie and ran both statements by him: "Girl, yeah. If I didn't want to keep you in my life long-term, I would've tried to holla a long time ago!" And he and I have been friends for almost 20 years at this point. When did he get around to telling me this? Eh, maybe two years ago. LOL.
So, my takeaway from all of these "for real?!" exchanges is even though men and women can be just friends, there is a certain level of intention, self-control, and ability to see into the future (on some level) that must go into account — because, just because something more-than-friends-like may not have gone down, that doesn't mean there isn't a "dormant seed" lying around somewhere…whether it's one-sided or on both sides of the friendship dynamic.
As you can see, I just provided you with three instances where the male friends in my life; we've had nothing sexual or even physically intimate beyond a hug when we greet each other in nature — although things aren't exactly platonic if there is some sort of attraction or sexual/romantic curiosity that simply never got explored. Because again, according to Plato, a platonic relationship is free from all of that kind of…tension — or possibilities. Zero. Nada. Zilch.
And now you probably get why I entitled this article in the way that I did…right? I mean, just think about it — out of your male friendships, where is there NO sensual desire or dormant romantic interest…on your side and/or on his? If you're not sure about "his"…have you ever asked him? Or them? Because again, once I really let the definition of platonic sink in, I think maybe two guys in my life totally fit the bill.
This brings me to my next point.
Are You Platonic? Or Are You Friend-Zoning?Giphy
Now that you know that probably 70 percent of the people you know (both online and off) have been using the true meaning of platonic all the way wrong, let’s go about deeper: when it comes to your friendships with men, are they genuinely platonic or…is it more like you’re friend-zoning them?
A few years ago, I penned an article on the topic entitled, “Before You 'Friend Zone' Someone, Read This.” If you’re skimming this on your lunch break, I’ll summarize friend-zoning as knowing that a guy has so-much-more-than-platonic feelings for you, yet because you basically want to keep the benefits of the friendship or even his emotions around, you will string him along on some level.
Personally, I can’t stand friend-zoning. I think it’s selfish, with some sprinkles of manipulation and wasting someone’s time. Don’t agree? How would you feel if a guy was friend-zoning you? (Yeah…exactly.)
This all needs to go on record because, knowing that a guy wants to “take it there” with you (whether sexually or romantically), you not full-on addressing it and/or giving him just enough hope to take you out, listen to all of your stories about other men and give you the attention that you need knowing that he doesn’t have a shot in hell — that is NOT a platonic friendship and honestly, you’re not being a good friend at all. Friends protect each other’s hearts, not abuse them.
A platonic friendship means that you both have no interest in each other, and, as Plato put it, while you may have a strong and solid bond, it’s spiritual love that connects you. And what exactly does that mean? Spiritual love also deserves its own article, yet the gist would be that you recognize there is a purpose in your friendship, yet it’s about wanting what’s best for one another and even helping each other to get there.
For instance, a platonic friend of yours may know that you desire to be married one day, so he has no problem setting you up with a good guy in his life. And if things go well, he would have no problem standing up as your own best man (without feeling like he’s dying inside) because he never saw you beyond anything but a friend. A guy in the friend zone doesn’t move like this; he likes you too much to help you move on with someone else. See the difference?
Why Relationships Should Start Off As NON-PLATONIC FriendshipsGiphy
Before I end this with some tips on how to properly care for the few platonic friendships you may actually have, since the use of the word may require a bit of mental reprogramming, I do think we should also address that if you've got a good guy in your life, who right now is a friend and either you've never thought of him in that way or the topic has never come up — he's someone that you may not want to brush off.
What I mean by that is, it's one thing for there to be absolutely no interest in someone vs. never considering it before — and the reason why you might want to give it some thought is because, ask any healthy married couple who's been together for more than five years and I'll bet you my next rent check that they will say that the best relationships are birthed out of friendship (check out "Are You Sure You're Actually FRIENDS With Your Spouse?").
Yeah, just because you've filed someone in the "I see him as a good guy" category, that doesn't automatically mean that y'all's friendship is platonic. For instance, I have a male friend who is fine and I adore on many levels, yet the reason why it would never work on my end is because there are certain relational standards that I have that he does not meet. However, don't get it twisted — I've considered him because, on so many levels, we "fit." So, the mere fact that I ever seriously thought about him on that level means that we are "good friends," yet it's not exactly platonic.
I'm not free of potential sensual desire…I just choose not to act on it. Yet because I get the value of having friendship as the foundation for my own future marriage (should life play out that way), I am wise enough to know that I would've been a fool to not at least…ponder him and the possibilities.
So yeah, if there is a male friend in your life that the thought of dating or having sex with him doesn't make you want to throw up in your mouth, there's a pretty good chance that it's not a classic platonic dynamic — and you might want to consider if it could/should go to the next level — if not immediately, eventually. Because there's a pretty good chance that if you are thinking that way, he probably is as well.
Protect Your Genuine Platonic Friendship(s) At All CostsGiphy
Let me end this with how one of my platonic friendships rolls. We both think that the other is attractive, yet neither of us is attracted. We both give each other opposite-sex insights. We both have said that the mere thought of dating each other makes our noses turn up like there’s an odor in the air. And even when I try to imagine us together, my mind goes blank. I love, love, LOVE this man — oh, but it is absolutely nothing more than platonic — and he feels the same way. It’s as close to familial love without being blood relationships. It’s a rare dynamic, and that is what makes it so special. There is definitely a spiritual type of love there; no more, no less.
If you’ve got someone in your life who you feel the same way about (again, it’s got to be mutual; he must feel that way, too), you’ve got a gem of a situation going on because there is nothing like having the kind of friendship where you and a guy can hang out, exchange perspectives and thoroughly enjoy each other’s company, knowing that’s all it is and will ever be. Things will never get weird. No one’s feelings are gonna get hurt (from the whole friend-zoning thing). You don’t have to walk on eggshells. You can just be.
And that’s why I’m all for platonic friendships. And listen, if you’re blessed enough to have even one in your lifetime, be fiercely protective of it. Don’t take it for granted. Nurture it in a way that your male friend needs (because it probably won’t be the exact same as your female friendships). Y’all, platonic friendships are so bomb because, if it’s honored and protected correctly, it’s the one male friend that you can probably keep for life because even your romantic partner will not find it to be a (true) threat — hell, they honestly could probably end up becoming (some level of) friends with your platonic homie as well.
I hope that I broke this all down enough to where, when you decide to use a word to describe your opposite-sex friendships, perhaps you will pause and ask yourself, “Wait, is this a platonic friend or a good or close friend?” Because the clearer you are on the differences, the easier it will be to know how to maintain your friendship — and feel about your friend. Feel me? Cool.
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