This means experiencing present-moment awareness but not reacting to it.
Acceptance : Learning to accept experiences as they are, which leads to increased compassion and empathy for yourself and your partner. Relaxation : Learning to generate the relaxation response , which helps to manage stress and improve feelings of well-being, clarity, and the ability to remain calm. Self-broadening : Developing a greater sense of trust, connection, and love for everyone.
MBRE also involves gaining insight into your own patterns of interactions in your relationship, and feelings and thoughts. It could be that you and your spouse have each fallen into negative ways of thinking or interacting with each other that could be improved. What's the advantage of mindfulness in a relationship?
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In general, being mindful as a couple means not getting caught up in both the little annoyances of life, as well as not being overwhelmed by the larger life challenges. It means being flexible and non-judgemental, accepting differences, being less reactive, and being more objective. All of these qualities, both on a personal level and as a couple, will serve you well in facing the world together—as well as simply spending time with one another.
The following are mindfulness-based relationship enhancement techniques that may be used as part of this set of strategies. Partner-focused loving-kindness meditation : Loving-kindness meditation is focused on care and concern for yourself and others. It involves learning to feel pure love and opening up your mind and heart to your partner. It also reflects selflessness and breaking down barriers. Learning to be mindful of daily pleasant events : This technique involves becoming open to the present moment in a non-judging way.
This allows us to notice the smaller things in life that we may not normally notice. It also promotes gratitude and being thankful for pleasant experiences. Improving intimacy through mindful touching and eye-gazing : Mindful touching and eye gazing involve touching your partner or looking into your partner's eyes and noticing whatever you feel in the moment. What are the established benefits of mindfulness-based relationship enhancement?
There is robust and growing scientific evidence to support the positive effects of the use of mindfulness in improving relationships. Mindfulness-based relationship enhancement can involve using strategies individually such as practicing mindfulness on your own or as a couple. These strategies allow you to become better in tune with yourself and your partner, to increase your empathy, and see problems that arise as challenges to be overcome rather than as threats to your relationship. Think of the last time you found yourself upset in your relationship.
Chances are that instead of collaboration and understanding, one or both of you were upset and being confrontational. While stress can lead to conflict and negative emotions, when you practice mindfulness, you will experience compassion and acceptance in the moment, which will improve outcomes for your relationship. A study in the journal Behavior Therapy investigated the use of mindfulness-based relationship enhancement to enhance the relationships of couples who were happy and not in distress. The study showed that there were positive outcomes of MBRE in the following areas.
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In addition, all of these benefits continued to show at a 3-month follow-up in the study. A phenomenological study published in the journal Marital and Family Therapy investigated the impact of a relationship enhancement program for couples expecting their first child. This program was called the "4-Week Mindful Transition to Parenthood Program" and involved mindfulness practices and interpersonal activities with an aim of developing personal and interpersonal skills for being in tune with oneself and each other in a couple.
The study involved semi-structured interviews with 13 couples and identified four areas of improvement after the mindfulness program:. These study findings highlight the benefits of MBRE in terms of positive enhancements for both individuals in the relationship as well as the couple as a whole unit. How can you practice mindfulness-based relationship enhancement on your own at home? One way to do this is to draw on the techniques of MBRE on your own. Below is a list of quick mindfulness strategies that you can employ on your own as a couple to start adding mindfulness to your relationship.
Put away your phones when you are together. Be in the moment and talk to each other. Listen actively to what your partner says rather than thinking about what you will say next. Ask questions and be curious. Feel grateful. Notice the times when your partner makes you feel happy and feel gratitude for those moments. Be silent. Enjoy a bit of silence together. You don't always need to be talking to connect. Instead of reacting with anger or emotions, take a breath, and respond in a rational way to problems that come up or challenges that you face together.
Create a vision. Make a list of 10 to 20 ways that you want to interact with each other in the future, such as "We support each other's growth" or "We do something new or fun together once a month. Engage in caring behaviors. Ask your partner what things make him or her feel good, and make a commitment to do those special things on a regular basis. Examples might include buying flowers or holding hands. Daily appreciation. Make a habit of expressing appreciation for each other once a day.
Take a moment free of distractions and describe to each other something that the other person did that made you feel good. See through new eyes. Slow down for a moment and see your partner through new eyes.
Really notice things about your loved one that you take for granted, and fall in love all over again. Eye gazing. Take a few minutes and spend it gazing into each other's eyes. This type of extended eye gaze increases oxytocin , which is the hormone that increases bonding. When you first see each other at the end of the day, before you say anything, embrace without talking until the point that you feel both of you relaxing.
This engages the vagus nerve , which helps induce the relaxation response. Breathe together. Practice mindful breathing together, in which you slow down in the inhale and exhale.
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This practice will also induce a relaxation response. Mindful conversation. When you talk to each other, practice being open-minded and non-judgmental. Answer: Someone has to take the first step. You may have to engage in positive behavior for a while before you see the results you want. Don't forget you and your spouse have been teaching each other not to reward each other for a long time. It may take some time before you teach each other more positive behavior.
Answer: This is a good point. Distressed couples often spend too much time complaining about what they don't get and very little time articulating what they do have. So the first step will be to help each other learn what your spouse does that is rewarding-- even if only slightly rewarding.
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Answer: This is an assumption that spouses should be mind-readers. It would be a lot better if they were, but unfortunately, they're not. What did your spouse do that was rewarding during the last week? Be specific: 1. But you almost never help me. Take responsibility In order to enhance your relationship both spouses need to take responsibility for changing. Label the specific behavior you like: "I really liked it when you helped with dinner," not "You were nice tonight. Stay in the present: don't bring up past grievances or failures to perform.
Build on the positive The rationale for all of this is that you are responsible for teaching your spouse the behaviors that you like. The more you label and reward specific behaviors, the more likely it is that those behaviors will occur. And your purpose right now should be to try to improve the relationship for yourself by teaching your spouse what it is that you like.