While the health dividends brought on by choosing to cook at home are both plentiful and apparent, the relationship benefits are less often discussed. That’s right, relationship benefits!
For not only does cooking produce dozens of mentally and physically therapeutic side-effects (culinary therapy is currently being used to treat everything from depression and anxiety to eating disorders, ADHD and addiction), doing it with your partner has its own set of wonderful perks. Such as the following:
1. It’s good for your sex life.
In a 2016 study, researchers found that one in five Americans “say someone who is a good cook turns them on the most – the exact same amount (19 percent) as those who are most turned on by a nice body.” I encourage you to pause and really let that statistic sink in. A huge number of people are as turned on by cooking acumen as they are by hot bodies.
Indeed, a 2014 article by the Washington Post bore the headline, “Couples Who Share Housework Have The Most And Best Sex Lives.” That’s because tensions over unfair housework division are directly correlated to the likelihood of divorce—which is initiated twice as often by women than by men.
2. It increases your emotional bond.
Couples who do stuff together, stay together. A 2010 study by Stel & Vonk joins an ever-growing body of research that shows doing an activity with your partner creates a context in which the two of you can coordinate your actions.
This sort of nonverbal mimicry “helps people feel emotionally attuned with one another, and those who experience or engage in it tend to report greater feelings of having ‘bonded’ with their partner,” according to Psychology Today.
3. It strengthens communication.
But emotional bonds are strengthened in less subtle ways, too. Cooking together means spending quality time together—time spent discussing the events of the day, the future, ambitions and dreams. Time spent truly communicating. Without communication, the relationship is doomed.
According to Dr. Terri Orbuch, who headed up the Early Years of Marriage Project, most couples who have fallen into the routines of life only think they are communicating, when in fact what they’re really talking about is what she calls “maintaining the household,” or discussing chores, to-do lists, finances, etc. On the other hand, couples who do fun and challenging activities together have more time truly getting to know one another.
Lounging on the couch, staring at Instagram while a Netflix movie plays in the background does not count.
4. It boosts your physical health and mental wellbeing.
The phrase “you are what you eat” resides in the common vernacular for good reason: it’s true! The better you treat your body, the healthier foods you eat, the happier you’ll be. A recent study published in the American Journal of Public Health discovered that for every serving of fruits and veggies consumed, participants felt happier and more satisfied with their lives. Treat your body good, look good, feel good, and your relationships will undoubtedly thrive.
If you’re looking to strengthen your relationship with your partner (or with yourself!), the kitchen is an accessible, affordable, and fun place to start. Put on a catchy playlist, pop a bottle of cabernet, and whip up that shrimp scampi dish you’ve been wanting to try for months.