Mindfulness and relationships
We all love a relationship happy ending. As time goes by, this involves mindful effort and persistence. I set out below, the most important aspects, in my opinion of mindful loving.
Good, open, mindful communication
Mindfulness is an especially invaluable tool in the area of couple communication, where it’s so easy to hear what we think is being said, through our personal filters, and then to overreact to it – strongly. More often than not, this is down to not only poor communication – but also our deeply personal, historical “stuff”.
Achieving and maintaining good communication is ongoing work. This is where practising communication mindfulness can be so helpful. When you put it into operation, you become increasingly able to pause, “mind the gap”, and clarify what’s actually being said. Poor communication will rapidly become a mental weed, clogging up and perhaps even strangling your precious relationship.
Interdependency versus co-dependency
Kahlil Gibran advises, “Let there be spaces in your togetherness”. This doesn’t mean either of you should abandon the other, but that it’s healthy for you to spend time apart as well as together, which is vastly different from cloying togetherness. Your long term relationship is actually enhanced by separate activity and even enhances it. Co-dependency sucks the very life out of your relationship. Interdependency enhances it.
Ongoing mindful renegotiation about miscellaneous boundaries
Relationships don’t remain static, because they’re a living entity with a life force of their very own. This is why you need to keep revising and renegotiating your boundaries, as time goes on.
Mindfully respecting differences and appreciating and expanding on the similarities
Accept the things you can’t change about your partner and keep the spotlight on yourself. And when you do change, then the whole dynamic of your relationship shifts. Keep the focus and your energy on fixing yourself.
Being first and foremost friends
Your partner should be your best friend – not your only one – but the person who’s clearly one hundred percent in your corner, come what may. Best friends do argue, of course, but ultimately the bond that binds them together overcomes all the difficulties that may threaten to separate them. Treat your partner like you’d treat any best friend: with love, patience and compassion. Before you have something tricky to say, ask yourself if it really has to be said, does it have to be said now, and what’s the kindest way of saying it – and breathe, before you say it.
Being able to say sorry
Unlike what you may have seen in the film “Love Story” –love IS having to say you’re sorry – even when strictly, you’re not. The pain of discipline versus the pain that stems from the regret of not apologising is infinitely better. I’m not saying you should be a scapegoat and take the blame for everything. It’s about achieving a happy medium, and focusing on what’s good in the relationship.
Showing continuing appreciation of and gratitude for the other.
There’s magic in the ordinary, in gestures of tenderness especially under stress. Demonstrating thoughtfulness doesn’t have to involve spending money or displays of ostentation. Write a gratitude list of each other’s positive traits. Go through pictures and mementos of your early days and also your special ones. Never forget anniversaries, birthdays and significant days. Show each other consideration. Express you appreciation to each other for what you CAN do.
Learning to grow through adversity
Nobody is exempt from suffering. Continue to share your wishes, hopes and dreams with one another, as this will enable you to visualise better times, which will surely come, because nothing lasts forever.
Leaving the past behind
You’re here NOW, so don’t measure yourself against your partner’s past. They are with you now and their past belongs exactly there, not in the present.
An intimate relationship is your greatest teacher – so learn your lessons well and don’t quit! It’s always way too early in a committed relationship to throw in the towel, unless something totally unacceptable happens, such as violence or an addiction for which your partner refuses to seek help. A great relationship can heal and nurture you in a much healthier way than your birth parent did – it’s like a mirror – reflecting the good, the bad, and the ugly in both of you.