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How Mindfulness Can Improve Your Relationship

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Leslie Becker-Phelps, PhD - Blogs
By Leslie Becker-Phelps, PhDPsychologistFebruary 25, 2015
From the WebMD Archives

Mindfulness is a hot topic – and with good reason. It’s been shown to reduce anxiety and depression, improve stress tolerance, enhance a sense of being emotionally even-keeled, and increase happiness. What many people don’t realize is that it can also benefit their relationships.

Mindfulness is a simple (but not easy) practice of nonjudgmental awareness of here-and-now experiences. And just as you can be mindful of your personal experiences, you can also choose to be mindful of your experiences related to your relationships. Too often, as days together turn to years, partners mindlessly repeat patterns, losing sight of their interactions. They might fail to register the small and large kindnesses offered by each other, such as clearing their plate from the table after a meal or being supportive of pursuing their dreams. They might also get caught in a loop of focusing on pet peeves or old issues, preventing them from truly absorbing “the good stuff” in their relationship.

You can reinvigorate your relationship by choosing to be more mindful of the comfort and joy it brings to your life. Some effective ways to do this are:

Pay attention while saying good-bye in the morning: Rather than just focusing on getting out the door, consciously take a moment to stop and look at your partner. Acknowledge to yourself that this person is important to you. Allow yourself to feel the love. You can do all of this in a matter of seconds, and it will imbue your good-bye hug or kiss with real affection.

Pay attention when you reunite at the end of the day: When you first see your partner at the end of the day, choose to make them central to your awareness. For just a moment, block out all of your other thoughts as you look them in the eyes and say hello. Truly acknowledge their presence and your appreciation of them. Connect with and express curiosity as you catch up on their day’s events.

Use touch as reminder to be mindful: Anytime you show each other physical affection, pay attention to it rather than allowing your thoughts to wander. By choosing to be aware of touch, even a peck on the cheek can feel like a moment of connection.

Listen without multi-tasking: While life is busy and often requires multi-tasking, decide to spend some time with your partner that you hold as sacred – give them your undivided attention. Listen with caring and openness. At these moments, you are deeply appreciating your partner and honoring the connection between you. The more you do this, the closer you are likely to feel toward each other.

Broadly speaking, being mindful in your relationship means emptying your mind of any thoughts beyond the present moment and focusing on your partner. And in doing this, you’ll feel closer and more connected.

Entries for the Relationships blog are for general educational purposes only. They may or may not be relevant for your particular situation; and they should not be relied upon as a substitute for individual professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you need help for an emotional or behavioral problem, please seek the assistance of a psychologist or other qualified mental health professional.

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About the Author
Leslie Becker-Phelps, PhD

Dr. Becker-Phelps is a licensed psychologist in NJ and NY, and is on staff at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital, Somerset. She is dedicated to helping people understand themselves and what they need to do to become emotionally and psychologically healthy. She accomplishes this through her work as a psychotherapist, speaker and writer. She is the author of Bouncing Back from Rejection and Insecure in Love.

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