How To Be More Mindful As A Couple, Because It'll Improve Your Communication
If you've started to master how to be mindful, there's a good chance you'll want to spread it to other areas of your life. It's one of the best ways to deal with stress, which can keep us from achieving and doing the things we want. "Oftentimes our stress or other forms of suffering comes not from the experience itself, but rather our resistance to what we are experiencing," Fara Tucker, a licensed clinical social worker in Portland, tells Bustle. "We resist being anxious, or sad, or cold, or being stuck in traffic, or feeling pain in our bodies. It's understandable to want to reject or resist these perceived negative experiences. However, the resistance makes us focus on the thing more and causes more tension."
So if you've realized how much mindfulness can help each that tension, it makes sense that you'd want to incorporate it into your relationship. It can make your relationship feel less stressful, more connected, and help give you a better understanding of your partner. But because it can be such a personal thing, it may seem intimidating to try to do it with another person. Luckily, there are lots of easy ways to start to make your relationship more mindful.
1. Zen Out Together
"Mindfulness techniques such as yoga, meditation, guided imagery, and mindful walks are known to decrease stress which will help regulate emotions," Kim Chronister, Psy.D., tells Bustle. But how do you do it together as a couple? Well, the Simple Habit app has you covered. They have meditation session targeted at couples — helping to improve your communication and togetherness — and they all take only five minutes, so you can definitely find the time.
2. Bring It Into The Bedroom
I know that sex and mindfulness might not seem like natural bedfellows, but it's all about being in the moment. "A great lover of any gender is enthusiastic, curious and fascinated by their partner’s responses," co-authors of Designer Relationships Patricia Johnson and Mark Michaels tell Bustle. "Great lovers are willing to experiment and try things that may be a turn-on; they’re able to listen to feedback, and have healthy sense of humor. When all partners approach sex with these attitudes, the results are exponential."
If you're touching base and paying attention in bed, you'll be getting mindfulness involved between the sheets.
3. Take A Breath Together
If you're really, really busy I get it. But that doesn't mean mindfulness should totally disappear. Just take a moment to be quiet with each other.
"If you want to be more mindful this year, it doesn't require a large commitment," Tucker tells Bustle. "You don't have to take a class or meditate every day. All you need to do is be willing to pause." Have a quick hug and a deep breath, then continue on your way.
4. Make Time For Couple Care
It's like self-care, but with your partner. Although I think alone time is really important, taking some time to have a bath or do something pampering together can be great. Just make sure it happens.
"Just like you schedule time for happy hour, or to watch Westworld, pencil in time to just be," Naomi Hirabayashi, co-founder and co-CEO of Shine, tells Bustle. "We’re really good at jamming our schedule full, but getting intentional about free-flowing time is something we all deserve." Make a quiet date night a priority, then treat yourselves.
5. Go Outside
Especially if the weather has been bad or you live in city, it's amazing how you can forget about proper outdoor time. But it's all about the vitamin D, people. "[It] doesn’t matter where you are, in city or suburb," mindfulness coach Kathy Walsh, tells Bustle. "Take a moment to connect with nature. Appreciate the change in seasons." Even just a 10-minute walk can reset how you're feeling.
6. Use It In The Difficult Moments
It's not all the fun stuff. Using mindfulness through difficulties in communication may be difficult, but it's so important and helpful. "Develop personalized, mutually agreed upon signals to use when you need to let your partner know that [they are] falling back into their less than helpful emotional default drive," Dr. LeslieBeth (LB) Wish, LCSW, tells Bustle. "For example, you could bend your arm at the elbow and raise your hand as though it were a stop sign. Or, you could bend your arm at the elbow, palm down, and lower your arm to signal to calm down. In public, you could tap each other or give a gentle squeeze to your partner's hand."
Airing out your emotional cupboards makes you both feel better and more connected. Use mindfulness and staying in the moment to help make it easier.
7. Unplug Together
The holy grail of mindfulness and the one thing that so many of us find difficult: Turn. Off. Your. Phone. And your laptop. And your tablet. And your TV. Take some time where you're just together.
"One day, keep a count of how many times you check your phone. The number might astonish you. Being uber-connected every single day, all the days of your live-long life sounds exhausting and it definitely impacts your mood!" Yoga Medicine instructor, Amanda Bonfiglio Cunningham tells Bustle. “Pick a realistic time that suits your schedule and start with just once a week. In our house, we choose Sundays. From when we wake up until after we’ve had breakfast, we have a no phone rule."
Find a time that works for both of you and try it out — it's addicting, so I wouldn't be surprised if you end up switching your phone off more and more.
As much as it's important to get time on your own and to practice self-care, don't let the same principles of mindfulness only apply to you as an individual. Incorporate it into your relationship and you'll be feeling calmer and closer in no time.