Listen with ears of tolerance, see through eyes of compassion, speak with the language of love ~ Rumi
When couples are on the same page in their approach to relationships it certainly helps create a prosperous, peaceful connection. After fourteen years alongside a partner who thrived on external distraction, avoided communication and gave little credence to my quest for spiritual and personal growth, meeting someone new who could value and apply mindfulness in a relationship was like a breath of fresh air for me.
After feeling unseen, unheard and unappreciated for so long, I knew that I needed a partner who would prioritise our relationship as a valuable container for our learning, growth and fulfilment. So being with someone who was prepared to do the inner work alongside me became a non-negotiable. And after rushing through so many years without making the time to stop and recalibrate my energy, I resolved to find a relationship that would fill up my cup rather than leave me feeling half empty.
When the very first gift my new partner offered me was a beautiful book filled with ancient Hawaiian wisdom about how couples can cultivate lasting love through selflessness and shared pleasure, I knew I was onto something special. I’d found someone who valued the intentional approach to relationships as much as I did; someone who wanted to do the work because he already understood the principle that ‘the whole is greater than the sum of its parts’.
Eight years in I’m immensely proud that I enjoy a relationship that allows my new partner and I to thrive despite the fact that we’ve faced many of the stresses and problems that are known to tear couples apart—financial issues, the pain of baby loss, a health crisis that called for dramatic lifestyle change and several draining house moves.
When couples face trauma, unexpected challenges or stressful situations it’s easy to withdraw, take frustration out on one another or even give up. Childhood patterns, deep seated fear and emotional wounds filter to the surface and it can make you feel like there’s very little hope for the future.
We’re a normal couple with normal problems but it’s how we’ve approached our relationship that has made all the difference. I’m a firm believer that a mindful relationship is a resilient relationship.
If you’d like to understand how you can manage conflict, stay connected and create stability in your relationship, these three insights can help you become a mindful couple.
Managing conflict – take a breath and observe what’s happening
When we feel ourselves starting to slip into defensive conversation, competitive behavior or the tennis match of blame in our interactions, we’ve learned the value of taking a pause. We’ve both become skilled at noticing when our behaviour isn’t helpful and one of us will gently suggest to the other that it’s time to take a breath.
A moment of pause can change everything. It creates the space for us to choose a more constructive way forward. Instead of continuing down the frustrating route of asserting conflicting positions with each of us needing to be right we talk about how and why we spiralled into those old patterns and share how we’re experiencing one another in the moment.
This truly mindful spin on conflict resolution is a relationship skill that stops arguments in their tracks and encourages us to take responsibility. We minimise resentment because disagreements aren’t left lingering in the air.
Managing judgment – use the power of gratitude to enjoy acceptance
We make a point of noticing, acknowledging and honoring the things we do for one another, for our family and our relationship. Whether it’s the love he puts into running me a warm bath filled with herbal oil and Himalayan salt at the end of my long working day or the fact that I’ve made sure the bills are paid on time, we understand it’s vital to appreciate the effort, energy and care we pour into the life we create together.
Appreciation transforms the urge to undermine our relationship by complaining about or criticising each other for the little, insignificant irritations that come up between every couple as part of daily life. Focusing on gratitude makes it much easier to accept each other’s quirks, vulnerabilities and flaws as simple ‘humanness’.
Managing challenges – use patience and trust to support each other through the darkness
Looking back at some of the most difficult experiences we’ve had as a couple, such as coping with recurrent miscarriage, I know our patience with and trust in each other was an invaluable anchor of support. Learning not to try to dampen down the other’s pain to minimise our own individual discomfort while reassuring each other that all suffering can and will pass saw us through our toughest moments.
When each partner honors the other’s individual process we can move through the stages of grief and engage with our emotions in healthy ways that help us restore well being.
No couple is perfect – we are all work in progress. But if you’d like to avoid the drama, communicate better and truly enrich each other’s lives, mindfulness can make all the difference. For us, it’s been the key to lasting love.