Six Mindful Ways to Deepen Your Relationship
By Kimberly Wulfert, PhD
A study by Burpee and
Langer,* published in the Journal of Adult Development was
designed to find out if there was a relationship between
mindfulness, marital satisfaction and perceived similarity to the
partner. The researchers wanted to know specifically if mindfulness
mattered and if so, how much it contributed to a happy marriage. So
they gave a questionnaire and a mindfulness measure to 55
women and 40 men, ages 25 to 74, who were currently married.
in this study was defined as “an active process of drawing novel
distinctions” between the spouses and having
a heightened awareness of alternative perspectives. I take it
to mean that assuming a mindful perspective
toward marriage highlights the uniqueness of each person and fosters an
open-minded acceptance of the different perspectives that
each individual offers.
turned out that mindfulness was far more important to marital
satisfaction than how much the two people shared in common. In fact,
perceived similarity didn’t even hit the statistical mark of
This finding got me to think about the practical take-aways from their research. Using my approach to mindful living, I offer these tips for couples married or not.
Celebrate your differences. See the value in having different points of
view. There are probably more than a few you can find when you
look at the situation mindfully: in the present, with a curious and
open mind, without prejudgment, based on the past experiences in the
relationship. The differences between you keep things interesting. Two
intelligent minds can be better than one when you need to solve
Bring novelty to the relationship by doing different things, together
and apart. Remember, liking similar things did not correlate with a
high level of satisfaction with the partner.
doesn’t always have to be entirely new things, but variations of what
you normally do. For example, cooking or eating food at a
restaurant where you have never eaten before, watching
a different movie or concert, or reading each other’s favorite
have a meaningful conversation about your experience. You’ll be
enriched from sharing your novel perspectives and you’ll learn more
about your partner when you exchange perspectives in an environment
where it’s safe to have a different point of view.
When conflict is of a more intense nature, discuss the details of each
of your points of view to provide your partner a clear understanding of
your perspective at this time. The partners in a mindful relationship
remember not to let what was once true get in the way of what is
currently true for each other. It’s easy to slip into automatic
thinking or mindlessness. Here you may make assumptions that you know
what they “really mean” and stay in a conflicted state that may not
exist. Actively listen and consider your
spouse’s existing of point of view.
Take responsibility for your state of being by regularly asking
yourself if you’re in a mindful or a mindless state of awareness when
relating to your partner. If it’s mindless, shift your attention into
the present by focusing on your breath for a minute and observing what
is actually happening inside and around you in that moment. Stay in
that space until you are focused in the present moment. Maybe you’re
hungry, or tired, or irritated from work and therefore relating to your
partner mindlessly. First you need to address what’s taking your
attention, then you can be mindful toward your partner.
5. Be open
to and engage with your partner when they share something with you.
Everyone likes to feel they are heard, known and seen when they share.
Bringing your focus of attention to your partner, for the minutes the
conversation takes can make a big difference to them, avoiding
repetition and hurt feelings.
Change is the nature of life. Mindful partners are less threatened by
change because they know change is inevitable and is happening in every
moment. From a mindful approach, the partners see the current context of a situation occurring in the relationship or in their partner.
Grasping and holding have no place in a mindfully-based relationship.
Enthusiasm comes naturally when you are in a mindful state
realizing the value you receive from being aware of your partner’s
perspective and experiences. Differences enrich your relationship in
Leslie C., and Ellen J. Langer. 2005. Mindfulness and marital
satisfaction. Journal of Adult Development 12, no. 1: 43-51.
PhD, is The Woman’s Coach, a meditation teacher and a licensed
psychologist with a mind, body, spirit approach to helping adults in
Ventura, CA since 1989. Are you hoping to meet a great match through
online dating sites, but are only attracting mismatches? Don’t give up.
I will help you write a personal, inviting, accurate profile to make
the best first impression. Visit: KimberlyWulfert.com/coaching