Music is a wonder of human creation and experience. Everyone has a unique musical taste that connects to their identity. Similarly, you and your partner have a unique story, and every story has a soundtrack. At the Marriage and Family Clinic, we believe that many things in our lives can be therapeutic. Music is a powerful tool that can enrich your relationships and improve your overall mental health.
Music can help you express and understand your feelings. When a song or an artist promotes an emotional response within you, there is a greater likelihood you will connect with that song or artist. Ever notice how listening to a love song will remind you of the person you love? You might have an entire playlist dedicated to when you’re feeling joyful, heartbroken, nostalgic, energized, etc. The next time you hear a song that reminds you of your partner, send them the song and let them know! You can even create a playlist of songs for your partner. If you are musically talented, you can even create a song for your partner. You can also use your musical talents as a coping tool. Playing an instrument, singing, and songwriting are healthy ways to release stress and feel better. Engaging with music causes our brains to release dopamine, a chemical that causes us to feel good!
Music evokes memories. Have you ever heard a song and suddenly found yourself transported to another moment in time? Perhaps a warm summer day on a boat with friends; your high school or college graduation; or dancing at your wedding. The next time you hear music that brings back a memory shared with your partner, let your partner know and invite them to reminisce with you. Thinking about happy moments with your partner can promote gratitude and joy in your relationship. Sharing a recollection associated with a song can also make you feel closer to your partner. When you invite your partner into this intimate aspect of your world, it can be an opportunity to feel more connected.
Music can promote healing. Have you ever turned to a specific song when feeling sad? Feeling connected to the story in a song can be incredibly validating and comforting. Someone else was experiencing the same emotions! Emotions such as sadness, anger, and guilt may be uncomfortable to experience. Experiencing all of your emotions, however, is what makes you human. It also is what allows you to connect to other humans. Feeling the full range of emotions is also connected to healing. Many approach the onset of a difficult emotion, such as sadness, with the attitude that the emotion must be eliminated as quickly as possible. Instead, try creating playlists that can help you process your feelings. This may temporarily intensify an emotion such as sadness, but can also allow you to fully experience your emotions, and in a way that makes you feel less alone. Embracing your emotions in this way can lead to better understanding and, ultimately, to healing.
Music can foster mindfulness and help you feel more grounded. Mindfulness is all about being in the present moment. You might even try closing your eyes and taking some deep breaths as you listen to something calming, and focus on each note of music. Notice how the notes and the words in a particular song make you feel, without judgment.
Experiencing music with your partner can be an opportunity to find common ground. Find common music tastes that can open the door to a closer relationship. Maybe you and your partner can dance to your favorite songs! Perhaps you can find a concert to experience together. In all of these ways, music can help your individual mental health and nourish your relationships.