Divorce and breakups seem to be all around us. I was just thinking that in my circle of acquaintances alone, I have learned about 5 breakups/divorces just in the last few months. Western society does pose a lot of challenges to a relationship.
So how do you keep your relationship with your significant other fresh and alive? I admit, sometimes there is good reason for a breakup to happen, but in this post I’m focusing on relationships that are heading for, or already are in, a state of boredom or lifelessness that can be avoided with care and attention.
It absolutely does take ‘work’ to keep a relationship alive and fulfilling. Especially when children are in the picture, they become the focus of your attention and your relationship with your significant other drops down on the priority list. I’m sure you have heard of lots of good advice, like ensuring there is open and frequent communication between the two of you, building and keeping trust, and doing things that allow you to grow together as a couple. I think all of these are important.
But I would like to offer some mindful ideas that perhaps may not be as mainstream or cliche…
Don’t you find that after you have been together for awhile, you tend to take each other for granted, and your focus of interest starts to divert to other people or activities? Here is where I think mindfulness can really help freshen your relationship. Here is a way to cultivate more joy into your relationship.
When you are with your partner, really be present for that person. Give him/her your full attention, and try to approach every interaction you have with him/her with fresh eyes and non-judgment. A simple concept, but it’s not easy to do! Just think about this – we all have preconceptions about our partners which brings prejudgments into our interactions with them. Such judgments and expectations can be a self-fulfilling prophecy because you already are seeing the interaction through a judgmental lens. Sometimes we barely give a situation a chance because we’ve already played out the scenario in our heads before it’s even happened and ‘we know exactly how the other person is going to behave.’
Consider talking about this approach with your partner to see if you can both do this for each other. Start small – you don’t have to put pressure on yourself to do this every time, but try it and see if the outcome is different and better. Even a small gesture conducted in a meaningful, caring & present way will be noticed. Some examples:
- Listen to what he/she is saying with full attention, eye contact, watching their body language, and trying to detect their emotions. Be selfless in this interaction. No judgment, just observation and acknowledgement.
- When you have friends over and you’re offering them a drink, ask your partner what he/she would like too, treating him/her in a way that shows you are paying attention to them too.
- When you together with others in a group situation, listen to your partner just as you would listen to others – don’t interrupt, correct, or argue – give your partner your attention and respect his/her opinion.
In other words, be present and non-judgmental for your partner.
If you feel like you are in a rut with your partner, see what you can do to change what you are bringing to your interactions. Often when you change your behavior, it affects the behavior of your partner.