Many relationships blame miscommunication, unnecessary conflict, incompatible expectations, or insensitivity for their breakdown. If we know what’s going to cause the break up then why haven’t we spotted the signs earlier, been proactive in taking steps towards harmony before things started to escalate? It sounds easy when you say it like that but we all know how busy our lives are and we often forget to think about why we’re behaving the way we are, or why someone else might be! There are many ways in which you can use mindfulness in your relationship to help openness, sensitivity, communication and your overall relationship with each other, and they are surprisingly quick and easy to pick up.
Practice makes perfect
Every relationship goes through daily tests, whether big or small, and by being able to practice mindfulness you will be able to respond to experiences in a much more constructive and non-judgmental way. For me this means that instead of ending up in a screaming match we will be able to talk about things in a calm and respectful manner. How many times have you gotten so angry that you can feel yourself reacting by snapping and being hurtful to your partner? If you were able to be mindful, you would have been able to recognize that your emotions have been triggered, but that you can actually choose whether to listen to those emotions and react, or to keep them at bay and not behave angrily.
By simply being aware of feelings, thoughts and physical sensations you can practice letting go of this emotion without attaching yourself to it. Practising mindfulness tends to lead to a calm and well-balanced mind. It is a simple solution, but it needs times, patience and dedication. As more and more time passes you will become more mindful, drastically decreasing your stress levels, giving you a greater sense of peace, and healthier relationships.
A useful exercise that mindfulness courses teach is merely deep breathing. Does that sound almost too simple? When you can feel something niggling away, then close your eyes and breathe deeply, really feel the breath entering your nose and reaching deep down into your belly. When you breathe out think of the air flowing through your finger and toes, taking everything that troubled you with it – focus on the physical feelings and do this as many times as necessary in order for you to feel calm and centred.
Reassure and Compromise
Most women will agree that from time to time, we all start feeling a little insecure, whether it’s about our bodies, appearance, weight or even our relationship – but it is important to step back from this situation and realise that you cannot get ‘all’ of your needs met ‘all’ of the time. This thought process is unrealistic, one-sided and will only leave you feeling unhappy. No matter how much you and your partner have in common, you are both completely separate people who need different things and part of being in a healthy relationship is that you respect each other’s needs and wants, and compromise in order to find a happy medium.
The phrase ‘choose your battles wisely’ has never been more appropriate. When you can feel an argument or an issue arising, stop and think about whether this problem is something that you really feel passionately enough about to be willing to fall out with your partner over. If it’s not then let it go. You can’t win everything, otherwise you wouldn’t be an equal partner in the relationship - you would be in a dictatorship. And whichever side of a dictatorship you’re on, that’s not the ideal for a loving relationship! If the subject of a particular ‘battle’ is something that you feel strongly about though, then by all means put your foot down on the subject, and even refuse to compromise if need be – but be aware of where that could lead.
If your partner is refusing to budge on an issue, perhaps there is an underlying problem? Disputes are often not really about what they started off being about, and there are more often than not much larger issues that need to be addressed, try an open and loving approach to dig a little deeper.
The art of discussion
With the summer fast approaching, me and my partner decided a few weeks back that we were going to look at booking a cheap, beach holiday. But as the discussions began we soon realised that we had completely different budgets in mind, with totally different dates in mind, not to mention an array of diverse places we wanted to go! So what happened from here? Well we had a small bicker about the issue and laid it to rest, and once again it will probably re-arise in a few weeks when one of mentions the word ‘holiday’ again.
Now we have both had our opportunity to share our feelings and ideas, we need to mutually agree on something. If your partner feels passionately about something, for example, the holiday destination this year, then perhaps you should make a deal, go where they want to this year but next year you get to pick the destination – it is all about comprising. Conflict can be distressing, but if you see it as an opportunity to grow and mature then it can in fact help you to become closer and deepen your relationship.
When you are speaking to someone you care about, remember to bring some of that love into the tone of your voice and the words that you choose – sometimes it’s not what you say, but how you say it! You are not talking to a business partner about a financial deal; you are talking to your partner whom you love about a personal issue. Small, thoughtful gestures mean the most, so why not bring her a bunch of flowers home, just because you wanted to remind her how much you loved her, or cook him his favourite meal because you want to make him feel appreciated.
Give them your full attention
We are all connected to the internet 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year – this can’t be healthy for our relationships. I’m guilty of owning an iPhone, iPad, a laptop and a home computer! I have been known to be talking to my partner whilst simultaneously opening an email, texting my friends AND watching TV all at the same time, and when I think about the amount of times I haven’t really paid attention to him, a sick feeling of guilt washes over me. Nowadays, do we ‘multitask’ because we just have so much to do, or is it because we love knowing the latest news all the time? Nothing is more important than having time to be truly present in communications with your loved ones.
Bio: As a busy business owner, mother and grandmother, Karen couldn't recommend enough the benefits of Mindfulness for keeping her relationship healthy and happy - taking the time to think about each other, and the other factors affecting her relationship.