Mindful Relationships

PERSONAL GROWTH

Mindful Relationships

With all the pressures of our day-to-day living, making the time for expressing ourselves in a loving way has become increasingly difficult. In addition, we expect to and believe we know how to have a loving relationship without any training. We don't learn how to negotiate to get our needs met. Sometimes people don't even know what they need. They just believe their partner should meet their needs without having to ask. As a result, we end up creating the same dysfunctional relationship that our parents had or that we had with them.

We all want to know how we can enhance our relationships and develop a loving relationship with others and ourselves. Although our intention is to do this, too often we create relationships that are more about fighting and less about loving.

With all the pressures of our day-to-day living, making the time for expressing ourselves in a loving way has become increasingly difficult. In addition, we expect to and believe we know how to have a loving relationship without any training. We don’t learn how to negotiate to get our needs met. Sometimes people don’t even know what they need. They just believe their partner should meet their needs without having to ask. As a result, we end up creating the same dysfunctional relationship that our parents had or that we had with them.

The latest estimates from Statistics Canada in 2008 suggest that 38 per cent of married couples in Canada will divorce by their 30th wedding anniversary (divorce beyond that point is rare). The percentages range from 22 per cent in Newfoundland and Labrador to 48 per cent in Quebec. In the U.S., the figure is 44 per cent. It is also reported that most children of divorce do not experience severe developmental problems, but they are at increased risk for depression, anxiety, behavioural problems, receiving bad grades or leaving school earlier, becoming young offenders or experiencing their own relationship problems down the road.

Given that we have these types of statistics about the impact of failed relationships, we still don’t teach our children or ourselves how to love, resolve conflict, negotiate or understand their personality and needs. It is impossible to have truly satisfying, intimate relationships without being able to focus on what is going with you and the other person in the moment. It is possible to share enjoyable times, but this occurs without the connectedness and emotional intimacy that comes with the practice of Mindfulness.

Mindfulness and the practice of mindful loving is one of the ways to achieving greater satisfaction in relationships. After all, what greater pleasure is there in a relationship than a partner, friend, parent or child who is giving you their complete attention?

However, making the time for emotional intimacy and meaningful connection with others – our children, our partners, our family and friends – is an activity that is less of a priority for most people than the weekly trip to Sobeys. Taking time for meaningful dialogue, working through conflict, creating pleasurable experiences allows us to nourish ourselves emotionally and physically, through the release of endorphins in our bodies that promote positive feelings about ourselves, and for each other.

We don’t really use the term “mindfulness” when we talk about creating intimacy, or improving the quality of our interactions with others. Think of how often the cause of upset in relationships is due to a failure to listen or be listened to; understand or be understood. The common statements “how many times do I have to tell you” or “I wasn’t really paying attention when you were talking” are symptomatic of our inability to be mindful in our interactions with others.

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