7 steps to creating a more mindful marriage

bigstock-Happy-Young-Couple-outdoor-12572609After reading an article in the Sunday Times recently on “Mindfulness” in marriage, I have been reflecting on  how the art of living in the present and taking responsibility for our own thoughts, reactions, and feelings “in the moment” has a beneficial effect on marriage.  Here is a synthesis of the article’s conclusions and my reflections  in a seven step straightforward process:

1.  Know your triggers.  We all have situations that trigger particular emotional responses.  One of mine is being asked to go to B and Q to buy something DIY related by my husband only to find that I don’t have all the information I need and when I am asked a fairly straightforward question by the pleasant man in orange, I am left feeling a complete idiot.  I am aware that I quickly become flooded with feelings of inadequacy and even shame which have their roots in being teased as a child when I made a mistake or didn’t know something.  The unmindful approach to this situation has me blaming my husband for putting me in this awkward situation in the first place and in the past has resulted in tension and even the odd argument or three!  The mindful approach has me admitting this particular vulnerability and sharing with him how I feel in situations like this, which has the effect of lessening their “hold” as well as promoting a new level of intimacy in our relationship.

2. Take response ability.  One of my favourite quotes is this: “In between the stimulus and the response is a space.  In that space lies your freedom to choose.  In your choice lies your future growth and happiness” .  Cultivating a more mindful marriage means using that space wisely to choose the response that is going to result in greater closeness.  

3. Learn how to diffuse your own emotions.  At a recent gathering of newly married couples, one woman commented that she tends to “fast forward” in her own mind where her emotions will lead and the likely results that will ensue thereby gaining a sense of perspective and self control.  I was impressed by this “diffusion” technique (one that I clearly need to practice myself!) Others find it helpful to literally give themselves some space to calm down, or even distract themselves by doing something else (like watching TV) which enables them to calm down sufficiently to have a more “honouring” conversation.

4. Deal with issues in bite size pieces.  The art of “chunking” something down into manageable pieces not only works for our physical digestive processes, but also our emotional ones.  If the conversation about your mission and purpose for your relationship is a little daunting, try having a conversation about what matters to you as a couple and then go from there!

5. Acknowledge your own feelings.  Being honest about how we feel requires taking a risk.  It requires exposing our vulnerabilities rather than defending them through attacking our partner.  I found it much easier to blame Guy for giving me incomplete information in the B and Q example than I did to admit that to “not know” made me feel vulnerable and even ashamed.

6. Use negative experiences as springboards to new growth.  Its ironic that we all have a tendency to sometimes avoid the difficult or challenging conversations, but that these are the very conversations that can lead to real growth in our relationships. 

7. Remember you are a team. It’s remarkably easy to view our partner as the “opposition” and end up indadvertedly scoring an “own goal”.  Being a team means that however the game is played we are working towards a common goal.  Being “mindful” of this particular key gives a context for the other six and keeps us focused on the “right” goal!

We can all create a more “mindful” marriage by minding more about how we manage ourselves, minding more about how we communicate, and minding more about the kind of relationship we want to create.

 

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