The Role That Mindfulness Plays in the Salvation of My Relationship
“Love and appreciating life are at the heart of mindfulness. Your behavior will be in harmony with that when you grow love, since it will provide you with clarity and compassion for life as a result of your efforts. Jon Kabat-Zinn:
I originally began meditating and practicing mindfulness more seriously and integrating it into my daily routine some years ago, initially with the intention of helping with my anxiety.
My routine has unquestionably assisted me in significantly overcoming my anxiety. However, an unanticipated side effect of this has been the effect it is having on my marriage.
We haven’t been married for very long, and much like many other married couples before us, we are finding that it may be challenging at times to adjust to the new dynamics of our relationship.
The process of acquiring the skills of communication and compromise is not always an easy one. He is concerned with being on time (or early), but I am concerned with not being hurried.
I don’t mind if he doesn’t clean up the kitchen after supper, but it’s important to me. It’s stressful for him when he isn’t sure what the agenda will be for the day, and it’s stressful for me when I feel like I’m being confined by the plan.
Therefore, we had an argument. They were enraged with one another. And in doing so, we set these expectations for each other that we couldn’t possibly satisfy 100% of the time.
But little by little, I began to see a difference. It started with a shift in myself in terms of my level of stress, my propensity to blame, and the expectations I had of him.
I discovered that I had become more empathetic, that I was better able to let go of things that didn’t go my way, and that I was better at talking with my partner if there was a disagreement between us.
After that, my spouse also began to show signs of transformation. He was aware of the changes that had taken place in me and observed how much better I felt as well as how much simpler it was to communicate with me. As a result, he began to imitate what he saw me do.
He was becoming less bothered by the things that were happening. In a circumstance in which we would have otherwise engaged in an unpleasant dispute, he now began the discussion from a position of curiosity rather than throwing the blame at anybody in particular.
However, the thing that stood out to me the most about him was how he was willing and able to reflect on how he was feeling and investigate why he felt the way he did, whereas in the past he would have become angry at me for making him feel that way. This was the single most important thing that I noticed about him.
What Exactly Is This Thing Called “Mindfulness”?
Being mindful is paying attention on purpose in a non-judgmental way to whatever is happening in the here and now.
This may be accomplished in the course of regular tasks such as driving, eating, or having a discussion. It is also possible to practice it in the form of formal meditation.
This simple method has the potential to revolutionize our connection with our ideas, provide us with fresh viewpoints on life and even on our own actions, and release us from the shackles of our feelings when we stop identifying with them as the source of our experiences.
The following are some shifts that have occurred in me as a result of practicing mindfulness, which have led to improvements in my marriage.
Eight out of ten people suffer from stress on a daily basis. Stress is a cruel mistress. And anxiety is endemic in our culture, impacting over forty million people in the United States (including me for thirty-ish years).
Mindfulness meditation is a practice that has been shown to be effective for reducing the negative effects of stress and anxiety, as well as breaking free from their grip.
When we are under pressure, experiencing negative emotions, or experiencing anger, we are on the lookout for anything that might indicate that life is difficult or unpleasant, or that we are in the right and others are in the wrong.
We pay attention to the things that annoy us, such as dishes that have been left on the counter, a vehicle that moves too slowly through traffic, or the manner in which your spouse asks what you want for supper.
And when we are pleased, we do the same thing, which is to search for evidence that demonstrates how wonderful life is.
You take note of the pleasant things, such as the sound of birds singing and the fact that your partner gets up on Tuesday mornings without making a fuss to take out the garbage.
Being in a good mood makes it much simpler to have greater compassion and forgiveness for others.
The less worried and anxiety-ridden version of me is a far better wife and partner than the previous one. When I’m in a better mood, not only am I much nicer to be around, but I also find that other things don’t bother me nearly as much.
I’m A Better Listener
Listening attentively during talks has never been easy for me since I have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADD).
When this happens, it is difficult to be totally present, take in what the other person is saying, and remember the knowledge for later use since the mind is wandering to other things.
My capacity to pay attention is noticeably better as a result of my regular practice of mindfulness. It’s like exercising your brain, strengthening the “muscle” that allows you to control where your attention goes whenever you choose.
When my spouse is talking to me, I am better able to pay attention to what he has to say without always worrying about what I am going to say next or what I will have to do in the future.
Because of this, he feels heard, and as a consequence, we have a stronger connection to one another.
I Have A Lot Better Understanding Of How I Now Feel
It’s not that I’m always happy because I don’t believe it’s even possible and I certainly wouldn’t want to live that way. There is a wide range of feelings that we are capable of experiencing, and there are many valid reasons to do so, even for a small period of time.
The brain is trained to become more aware of what we are experiencing when we consciously pay attention to what is going on around us. We are so used to just experiencing our sensations, and if they aren’t pleasant, we either attempt to avoid them, numb them, or lash out at one another in order to escape them.
When we look at our feelings with an attitude of inquiry rather than avoidance, we are more productive and experience considerably less stress.
Classify them. After that, you should inquire, “Oh, I’m starting to get angry.” What exactly does it mean? What are some different perspectives that one may take on this matter? What options do I have to alter my circumstance or find a way to deal with it?
I’ve also become better at catching myself before my emotions go out of control. When emotions reach their pinnacle during a debate, it’s too late to bring the disagreement back under control.
Once you have reached the pinnacle of your irrationality, it is difficult, if not darn near impossible, to bring it under control again.
It is difficult to use critical thinking abilities at this time since your brain and body are in the fight-or-flight phase. It will take around twenty minutes for you to calm down sufficiently to be able to think clearly and make judgments that are sound and reasonable.
Having years of experience under my belt in the practice of mindfulness has helped me tremendously in reducing the frequency and intensity of very negative states of thought.
Having said that, I am only human, and every now and then, those feelings bubble to the surface.
By paying more attention to my emotional state, I’ve been able to work through challenging or irritating sentiments on the inside and prevent fights with my partner.
I Have A Much Better Understanding Of The Emotions That My Spouse Is Experiencing
Your capacity to be in the here and now and to be undistracted by your thoughts will improve with regular practice of mindfulness. Because of this, you develop greater perceptiveness, become a better listener, and become more observant.
Because of this, you are able to perceive things from the perspective of another person, which improves your ability to communicate with them.
As a consequence, your levels of emotional intelligence are increased. It evolves into a powerful tool that improves your ability to comprehend not only other people but also their environments and the circumstances surrounding them.
When my spouse seems agitated, I am now better able to put his actions into perspective and empathize with the feelings that he is experiencing.
For instance, I can see that an angry outburst from him directed at me because we should have left five minutes ago is actually his frustration stemming from a lack of control over something that he values, which in this case is punctuality. He is frustrated because we should have left five minutes ago.
No longer do I feel the need to retaliate with anger. Instead of taking his feelings personally, I sympathize with him because I have a greater understanding of what is driving him to feel the way he does.
I’m Becoming Better At Forgiving People More Quickly
Nobody’s perfect. As we practice paying attention to the here and now without passing judgment on it, mindfulness helps us to forgive not just ourselves but also others around us.
When practicing mindfulness, a person is able to let go of or forget about the past, and they are also able to avoid dwelling on what the future may or may not hold.
Because practicing mindfulness allows us to let go of idealistic or materialistic thinking and instead focus on just being present in the here and now, it may be of great benefit.
It is possible to utilize it to help you accept the emotions of grief, anger, aggravation, or betrayal that you experience and then move on from those sentiments.
Finding out what is causing you the most pain is the first step on the road to becoming a more liberated version of yourself.
My relationships have reached a point where I no longer nurse grudges or bring up the past when we have disagreements because I have developed a larger capacity for forgiveness. This has freed me from the need to do either of those things.
I Am Conscious Of The Stories I Am Telling Myself At This Very Moment
When something doesn’t go our way, it’s so simple to identify with the tale we’re telling ourselves and label it as the full truth. When something does go our way, it’s so much harder to connect with the story we’re telling ourselves.
The practice of mindfulness has helped me to distinguish between myself and my thoughts. They are not the same thing in any way.
The concepts that go through our heads, like clouds in the sky, are what we refer to as thoughts. They don’t last very long. They adapt to their surroundings constantly.
Because I practice mindfulness, when I’m feeling upset, I’m able to more readily see the narrative that I’m telling myself that’s contributing to my state of mind.
For instance, when I returned home after a week-long business trip, I was wounded when my spouse did not stand up and welcome me with enthusiasm as soon as I walked through the door.
He did not move from where he was seated on the sofa, remaining intent on what he was doing.
I was angry, so I walked upstairs to vent my frustrations. Then I came to the realization that I had been convincing myself of a false narrative, namely, that my spouse did not care about me or love me enough.
I am aware that is not the case. There are a few different explanations as to why he remained seated.
As I made my way back downstairs, he could sense that I was still feeling a little sad, so he asked me what had happened when I returned.
I told her, “The tale I’m telling myself is that you didn’t miss me since you didn’t get up when I got home.” This is the story I’m telling myself. “( Although I am aware that it is not the case, the fact that you did not give me a bear hug is still making me feel a bit down, even though I am aware that it is not the case.
He expressed his regrets and said that he had planned to show his affection for me as soon as I was comfortable.
When I told him “the tale I’m telling myself,” he was a lot more open to it than he would have been if I had gone in on him about the things he’d done wrong.
And I was able to feel better after I stopped leaping to the erroneous conclusion and instead let him explain his side of the story while avoiding a confrontation with him.
A few weeks later, he informed me in a level-headed manner that he was unhappy about something, and he began the discussion by saying, “The narrative I’m telling myself is…”
That’s when I realized that our relationship was becoming better as a result of practicing mindfulness.
When I am able to take an objective look at my thoughts and emotions, it enables me to reframe any scenario and offers me the space to respond sensibly rather than impulsively to whatever is going on around me.
Self-love and the pursuit of personal growth can have a positive impact not just on one’s own life but also on the lives of people in one’s immediate environment, and this is one of the most important lessons I’ve taken away from this experience.
When I work on making myself a better person—one who is less stressed, more compassionate, healthier, and happier—I am able to be a better wife, friend, daughter, and coach.