Falling in love is easy. But, staying in love, that’s the real work. Over 2000 years ago, Buddhists developed the technique of mindfulness meditation, which helps people be present in everything that is happening at the right moment. Proponents of this method argue that meditation can help improve sleep, reduce stress, and increase attentiveness concentration. And these are just a few of the benefits of mindfulness meditation!
However, how does mindfulness affect marriage?
Here is a slight spoiler. Research shows that mindfulness in marriage is associated with accepting an intimate partner’s flaws and is an important mechanism for relationship satisfaction.
What Is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is the practice of being fully aware of the present moment without judgment. The technique helps people not to live in the past or only hope for the future. It includes enhanced tracking of breathing, thoughts, and bodily sensations.
Meditation teacher Jon Kabat-Zinn, Ph.D., noticed that it is also a path to self-understanding and wisdom. Moreover, it means the moment when a person consciously ceases to put forward only their ego-centric narratives “I,” “Me,” and “Mine.” Instead, concerning others, the concept of “We,” “Us,” and “Our.”
How to Be mindful in Relationships
To develop mindfulness, couples first need to live with awareness. It means understanding what’s going on in marriage, taking responsibility for marital happiness, and accepting the partner’s flaws.
Since the relationship is constantly moving, not static, partners should continuously learn and improve their mindfulness. You can do it by following the simple tips below.
[Read also: 11 Best Tips To Improve Your Marriage]
Remember to Breathe During Difficult Conversations
Many relationships go through rough patches from time to time. For example, misunderstandings or fatigue at work can lead to conflict. Partners can’t always avoid them, but they can make this moment less painful.
To not hurt their beloved with words in the heat of anger, spouses should take a deep breath before arguing their point of view. If necessary, you can even count slowly to ten. It will help you organize your thoughts and calm your heart. As a result, the first wave of emotions will go away, and you will be able to assess the current situation.
Listen to Understand, Not to Respond
People often complain that their partner doesn’t hear them. Is this possible if you are not deaf? Unfortunately, yes.
Sometimes spouses listen to each other not to understand the purpose of what is said but to answer. It leads to misunderstandings because they could not understand what the spouse wanted to convey to them.
To learn to “read between the lines,” partners need to develop attention to detail and be fully present.
[Read also: Signs You Are Emasculating Your Man]
Plan to Have Time with Your Spouse
No matter how many years you and your spouse have been married, spending time together is still necessary. It helps couples discover new sides of their partner, make plans for the future, and show concern and interest. It could be a date, a picnic, or a walk. And most importantly – only you two.
Put Your Gadgets Down
Technology has become a fundamental part of our lives. However, they are also disruptive factors that sometimes do not let us focus on our partners.
Spouses should put their phones, tablets, and other gadgets aside while spending time with each other.
Find a Balance Between Togetherness and Space
Finding a balance between individual needs for space and togetherness is just as crucial as spending time together.
In relationships, people often devote all their time to partners, forgetting about their interests and friends. As a result, the beloved becomes their entire universe.
However, over time, this line of behavior can lead to irritability, jealousy, or depression. To accumulate a healthy relationship, both partners need to have their personal space – a place where they can be alone or completely distracted.
Do not Criticize; It’s Better to Support
People tend to criticize themselves, developing low self-esteem. As a partner, you should use your mindfulness to support your significant one when they feel insecure about their strengths or appearance. Support is the best way to overcome the current situation.
A special bond between partners appears when they have already known each other and know all the pain triggers they should avoid.
By remembering your partner’s triggers, you show that you care about them and your relationship. To do this, you should use mindfulness.
[Read also: Do I Love Him, or Am I Just Attached?]
Mindfulness-Based Relationship Enhancement
Mindfulness-based relationship enhancement (MBRE) is a set of techniques used by couples who are already happy with each other to help strengthen their relationship stress management skills.
Many couples face challenges throughout their relationship. As problems arise, it may be helpful for partners to have the skills to develop a mutual coping strategy.
MBRE effectively develops skills for overcoming and managing stress and increasing personal well-being and happiness in relationships. The main goal of the techniques is to accept problems, respond to them without negativity, and solve them together with an intimate partner.
4 Components of MBRE
MBRE consists of four main areas:
- Partners should learn not to judge all experiences in the present moment. They need to let the first wave of emotions go. Spouses should concentrate on the situation itself, not on the reaction to it.
- Partners would benefit from learning to accept experiences as they are. This approach will help increase compassion and empathy for themselves and their partner.
- Partners should learn to generate a relaxation response. It will help to manage stress, improve a sense of well-being, and to stay calm.
- Self-broadening. Spouses should develop a greater sense of trust, love, and connection for everyone.
MBRE Techniques for Couples
There are three of the most common mindfulness-based relationship enhancement techniques for partners. Spouses can use all of them or only those that suit them best.
- Loving-kindness meditation. This type of meditation focuses on care and concern for yourself and your partner. During loving-kindness meditation, partners learn to focus on their beloved, feel pure love, and open their minds and hearts to each other. This technique helps break down barriers between two loving souls in intimate relationships.
- Improving intimacy through eye-gazing and mindful touching. The very name of this technique implies that spouses need to be more mindful while touching their partner, looking into their eyes, and observing how they and their partner are feeling at the moment.
- Learn to remember pleasant everyday events. This method allows partners to notice small things in life that people tend not to see without judgment. It also promotes gratitude and appreciation for pleasant moments.
Mindfulness Activities for Couples
Many mindfulness exercises for couples focus on using feelings and thoughts to concentrate on the present moment. Most activities take less than 15 minutes and do not require special equipment or experience. All spouses need is a quiet place where no one will disturb them. It is also worth removing the phones and any disruptive factors at the practice time.
Exercise 1. Deep Breathing 5-5-7
Partners sit opposite, in a comfortable position, looking into each other’s eyes. Concentrate on your breathing. After about one to two minutes, move on to breathing practice.
One of the partners takes the lead with counting and sets the overall pace. First, the couple, counting to 5, slowly inhales deeply. Then they hold their breath and slowly count to 5. After that, for a count of 7, they exhale. As a result, spouses breathe in unison.
Both partners should focus on the other’s breath sounds. Continue in this mode for five minutes. Then the spouses should switch roles and do the same for the second five minutes.
Exercise 2. Sexual Fantasies
When spouses ignore or are ashamed of their desires, they harm themselves by suppressing part of their true selves. As a result, stress and irritability accumulate, and distrust of the partner arises.
Usually, sexual fantasies connect with role-playing games. Bringing intimate desires to life, partners explore a new aspect of their relationship, get to know their partner and themselves from a new side.
It is enough to perform this exercise once a week. If desired, you can increase the number of times. After a while, you will discover how the bond with your partner has deepened, and you are free to discuss any intimate topics and ideas with them.
Exercise 3. The Touch Feeling
This exercise is similar to massage. To do this, the spouse should ask their partner to lie on their back on a bed or sofa. After that, you slowly begin to touch each part of the beloved’s body, starting from the feet. Spend about 30 seconds on each part.
During touching, the person who is lying should focus on the sensations or feelings that arise. After you reach the head, you and your intimate partner should switch places. Then, they should do the same procedure with your body.
To enhance the effect, you can turn on quiet meditation music and use aroma candles.
Exercise 4. Daily Appreciation Affirmation
It is essential to learn to be grateful and appreciate everything that partners do for each other in a mindful relationship. Even small daily tasks should not be ignored.
For this exercise, both spouses need to sit opposite each other and look into each other’s eyes. Then, each partner, in turn, should continue these sentences:
- I appreciate (what they did) what you did today/this week.
- It is important to me because___
- When you did that, I felt___
After the first time, you can notice how nice it is to hear and say that your actions are appreciated.
The affirmation sentences can be different. Choose any that you like.
Exercise 5. Naked Meditation
This meditation exercise helps to improve intimacy between partners. To do this, spouses should sit opposite each other naked on the floor in the lotus position. Then take ten slow deep breaths.
Explore your partner’s naked body. Feel their bare skin and stimulate a sense of intimacy.
The next step is to feel your body by focusing on it. If this meditation leads to lovemaking, let it happen.
After a few of these meditations, you will notice how your intimacy has moved to a whole new level.
A relationship is the constant deliberate work of two partners. If spouses want to learn more about improving bonds with their intimate partner and develop a personalized strategy, they can turn to marriage counseling therapists.