Mindfulness towards your significant other

Being mindful of each otherDivorce 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.


Part 2 – When your partner joins you on your spiritual journey

At the sacred Garden of the Gods, Colorado SpringsAs I had hoped, this topic is an intriguing one, and I love seeing your comments and talking to some of you. 

This is Part 2 in the series ‘Is your partner with you on your spiritual journey?’.  In this post,  let’s specifically discuss ‘when you partner joins you on your spiritual journey’.

This post is specifically about the scenario of when your partner is also on a spiritual path, and you two intentionally are taking actions to learn and grow spiritually.

But what does that look like for you?  For me, before I married my partner I had broached the subject of my beliefs and curiosities because I needed to know where he stood on this. I had discovered that he hadn’t really thought too much about it, seemed somewhat skeptical and rather uninterested, but absolutely respected my beliefs and I could tell his stance would not hold me back, and likely would actually encourage me to explore even if he chose not to.

After we got married, our eyes were opened more with each meaningful event we experienced in our lives, such as the death of a parent, watching world disasters, meeting people who impacted our lives, and my stint with cancer. I received many gifts with my cancer experience, and perhaps one of the most significant was the the joint spiritual acceleration my partner and I experienced together.

As life continues, we encounter various offerings to learn and grow spiritually.  Sometimes we both gravitate to such offerings, and sometimes only one of us does. For example, my partner really resonates with Ken Wilber’s teachings, but for me, Ken’s much too technical and theoretical, so most of it just whizzes over my head. I tend to spend a lot more time than my partner learning & talking to others,  but we both enjoy and receive great benefits from meditation & mindfulness and have gone to many meditation groups together.

I can say with certainty that my spiritual journey is accelerating and more fascinating because I am so fortunate to have a partner who actively encourages me and experiences the journey with full interest right beside me.  Enduring the cancer experience last year together really projected us down the path at full speed; we were fortunate to be introduced to InspireHealth right at the onset of my cancer diagnosis, and they helped us learn how to manage through cancer together.

I know that many couples do not talk about the subject of spirituality. If you haven’t yet, I suggest it is worthwhile doing so, because if you find ways to explore it together, it can enrich your relationship in profound ways.  In today’s society with so many breakups and people living in dead relationships, isn’t it worth exploring what this could do for the two of you?

Keep in mind that cultivating a spiritual journey together is like taking a walk through a maze – you will have dead ends, clear paths, and times where you may walk alone and times you walk together.  In my relationship, I would say it took a few years before the light turned on for both of us together and we intentionally decided to grow together.

At this point, I invite you to share your experiences and thoughts if your partner IS on the spiritual journey with you (current or past partners). You can leave a comment without using your real name if you so desire.

Please click the ‘Comment’ link below to join in on this conversation. I would love to hear from you!

Part 1 – Is your partner with you on your spiritual journey?

At the sacred 'Garden of the Gods'I’d like to discuss a really important and intriguing subject:  Is your partner with you on your spiritual journey?

As this is a very big and meaningful topic, I will break this down into a 5 part series, and I invite you to join in on this conversation by adding your comments.

Spiritual growth is such a deeply personal decision and experience. Every person walks a unique path.  I imagine that most of you who read my blog are in some way already on your spiritual path.  You might be well on your way, or you might just be peeking through a door at the path that intrigues you, or you are not yet sure what it is or what to do about it.

In one of my past serious relationships, I felt a deep but suppressed interest in spirituality, and I didn’t even really know what to call it at the time. I wanted to discuss my curiosity with my partner but based on what I knew about him, I suspected that he would just raise an eyebrow and wonder if I was running a high fever.

In my current relationship, my partner started out years ago rather indifferent and skeptical, but going through my cancer journey last year really opened his eyes to the possibility and benefits of joining me on my spiritual journey.

Personally, I feel that if your partner intentionally decides to grow with you spiritually, it enriches and accelerates your growth, and deepens your relationship.  After all, partnerships do need long term visions in order to sustain and be fulfilling.

How did I broach the subject in my serious relationships? Here are some ways I did:

  • I started off with a discussion on whether or not we each believed in reincarnation.  Whether you believe in reincarnation or not isn’t the point here, I’m just pointing out this is how I started opened up a spiritual-type conversation.
  • When we experienced a death of a friend or loved one, or heard that someone was very ill, we would remember how short life really is.  This was a window of opportunity to talk about what we thought our life’s purpose might be.

So have you truly talked specifically to your partner about exploring your spiritual growth together, or have you just talked about various topics here and there, but not made the big jump in raising the question of deciding to journey together?

  • Have you talked about what it means to grow spiritually together?
  • What life means to you?
  • Living life with self-awareness, intention and meaning?
  • What it means to your relationship to journey together or separately?

I invite you to share how you have broached this subject with your partner, or how you have not as yet (current or past partners).  As this can be a very tricky subject, I would love to hear about your experiences, or you can describe the challenges you are currently having.

Please click the ‘Comment’ link below to join in on this conversation!