Relationships are a non-stop work-in-progress. We work on ourselves as part of being a couple while we also work on ourselves as individuals. The more work we do, therefore, the more smoothly we learn and grow. This growth needs mindfulness. Healthy relationships, for that matter, also need mindfulness.
What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is about paying intentional attention, from moment to moment, for the purpose of relaxing and calming the mind and body. The means taking an allotted time to focus on your breath, while letting go of thoughts that rush in and out of your mind. The present is where mindfulness lives and so, in fact, do you. But you sometimes need to remind yourself of this. Mindfulness guides you to an awareness of your:
- Physical sensations
Living in the moment has countless proven benefits, for example, you will…
- Have more empathy for others and will be more open-minded
- Enjoy healthier sleep patterns
- Have less stress, worry, and anxiety
- Experience an improved immune system
- Have stronger self-control
- Have better concentration
- Think more clearly
- Be less likely to feel stuck to technology
- Experience a healthier form of self-acceptance
- Enjoy deeper, more intimate relationships
As we continue with this post, we’re going to focus on deeper, more intimate relationships. How do you become a mindful couple? No one needs to be told that relationships can be challenging at times. A giant step towards a lasting connection is staying present—together.
7 Ways Mindfulness Can Improve Your Relationship
1. More awareness
As relationships go on, it’s not unusual to take some things for granted. It may not seem like much but it adds up. A mindful couple is rooted in the moment. Nothing is taken for granted and your partner and you take the time to regularly connect about important and not-so-important matters.
2. Less judging
In the present moment, there is less judging. You’re not replaying the past and you don’t fear the future. The present moment just needs your attention but it doesn’t need your judgment. Mindfulness teaches you about acceptance of the way things are in that moment. You replace your expectations with gratitude and live in a more kind and self-connected state.
The mindful couple does not resort to knee-jerk reactions. Issues haven’t been left un-discussed and concerns are addressed as they come up. You commit to having each other’s full attention when you talk. In such an environment, outbursts and misunderstandings become increasingly rare.
Communication is a benefit of mindfulness. It includes active listening, deep honesty, and offering sincere apologies. The list goes on and so does your relationship. Communication is the testing ground for your mindfulness practice. Slowing down familiar or ineffective patterns are relationship building blocks.
Intimacy exists in the present moment. You may feel anxious about intimacy and about sharing your experiences. It can trigger fears and insecurities. A mindful couple, however, seeks authentic intimacy through trust and openness. Being fully engaged in your intimate life creates powerful opportunities for shared pleasure.
6. Dealing with disagreements
Think about it, less judging and more self-control make for better communication and deeper awareness and intimacy. How could all this not lead to productive discussions? Grudges exist in the past, but, in the present, you and your partner find solutions and common ground.
7. Balance in the modern world
Never before has it been harder to practice mindfulness. It’s cliché but so true. We live distracted lives, often tied to the hip with our devices, and are drowning in a sea of texts, tweets, and social media notifications.
The answer is mindfulness. Try it, if even only once a day for a few minutes to see if you notice a calming difference. When you value the present moment, you have the opportunity to make it count.
Becoming a mindful couple is a skill that can be learned. Therefore, you may wish to find a strong guide to help you. In couples counseling, your therapist will identify patterns that need to be adjusted and you will work together to create new strategies. In time, your mindfulness practice will become more natural and it begins right there, alongside your partner.
Carlene Townley, M.A., is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist Associate at the Relationship Counseling Center of Austin. She works with couples and individuals helping them to bring balance and harmony back to their relationships. She is clinically supervised by Laurie Donovan, LMFT-S, LCSW. Contact Carlene at 512-270-4883, ext. 105.