Relationships are hard work. People get busy with life and simply neglect to nourish their union. Sometimes it turns into a competition for time between family, work and self-care. With all that happens in a day or even a week, what's left over for sustaining a relationship? Exactly that, leftovers.
Unintentionally, we often overlook feeding our partners with what is necessary for a healthy relationship. Mindfulness for couples is used, more often than not, in couples counseling sessions by the professionals. Why wait until there's so much turmoil you need couch time in a therapists' office? There are plenty of exercises you could initiate now!
First, let's take a look at the mindfulness concept. In a nutshell, the practice of mindfulness is being present in the moment, becoming aware of the situation at hand and accepting, without judgment, what's happening. It might sound complicated but it's rather simple, it just takes practice.
For instance, when an individual is stressed out and on the verge of breaking, a professional counselor trained in mindfulness techniques might recommend a "time-out". Go to a quiet space, sit down with your back straight and do breathing exercises.
Take a deep breath in through the nose counting to three and slowly exhale out through the mouth counting to five. Listen to your body and simply be aware; concentrate only on your breathing and how it makes you feel.
How Can Mindfulness Benefit a Relationship?
Mindfulness for couples is much the same, only with your partner. No, not necessarily breathing exercises but there are plenty of exercises you can do with your mate that will help develop a greater understanding of their emotional state.
Many of us wait until we are in the middle of a screaming match before trying to effectively communicate, but by that point no one is really willing to listen, words go flying and feelings get mutilated. This is followed by regret and maybe an apology or even the silent treatment; neither of which are healthy and both can be avoided.
Specific Mindfulness Methods
Let's take a look at some mindfulness for couples techniques that might be useful:
It's one thing to tell your love that you appreciate something they are doing or have done, but when you give them your undivided attention, look them in the eyes and follow the affirmation with how it makes you feel, it is far more appreciatively received, and it sticks.
To go a step further, your partner would effectively reiterate what you've just told them in their own words. For example, "I love it when you rub my back after a long day at work; it makes me feel like you care that I'm tense and want to help." Your partner would then follow-up with his interpretation of what you've just relayed.
Scheduled Date Night
Sounds simple enough right? But there are rules! Put your devices down if you are enjoying a meal together, look each other in the eyes and engage in meaningful conversation. Avoid topics that would cause critique or conflict. Open your ears and hear what your partner is saying without thinking of an immediate response while they are still talking.
If you are going to a movie or a play, hold hands while sitting, share the same popcorn and soda, and then talk about your opinions on the show afterward. Any event will work and if you both don't share the same ideas on what you should do, alternate.
He wants to see a movie and she wants to have a picnic in the park? Easy. One thing this week, the other next week. Be excited to spend the quality time with one another and fully engage, mindfully and purposefully. Whatever you do, don't skip out on your mate and reschedule!
Most importantly, if it's not "your thing", don't disassociate. Make an extra effort to consciously focus, experience and participate. Make memories. That is what mindfulness is and does.
Ask and Ye Shall Receive
Sit down with your loved one and create a list of things that make each of you happy and deliriously in love. Remember when you were dating and he brought you flowers or when she would nibble on your ears? Write. It. Down.
Use a list or even put cut these suggestions out on strips of paper and place them in a jar. Each week grab one out and do it. Suggestions? Hold hands while watching TV. Bring a surprise home after work; a candy bar, a new perfume, a flower you picked from the neighbors yardÖ anything, but make sure it's sincere.
Write a love note. Cook and serve a meal. Grocery shop together. These things are simple but could mean the world to your lover.
Mindfulness for couples doesn't necessarily mean you have to gaze into each other's eyes and profess your undying affection. There are endless "exercises" you could incorporate into your daily lives that will create a mutual love and adoration. And when you are mindful with your love and adoration guess what happens? You are less likely to explode during the tough conversations inevitable in any relationship.
Mindfulness is the Opposite of Taking for Granted
Engaging your conscious mind to be more mindfully aware of loving and being loved will move your relationship from a should be/could be/would be existence to an "is now" experience.
You both will subconsciously reflect on how loved you are and that you are in this together, thus creating a stronger team and much greater respect for your mate. It's a win-win! Don't stop with these few suggestions though. Find what works best in your relationship and for your given situation.
You wouldn't neglect your body of food or water, right? Relationships take constant work and nurturing as well. Mindfulness for couples is work, yes, but it's so worth it! Give your relationship the fuel it deserves to grow and succeed!