Can mindfulness make you more merrily married? In the early days it was effortless to notice all of the caring things your crush did (they were so cute and thoughtful, after all). Long term relationships require a bit more effort because of that pesky negativity bias. Once we are more familiar with our beloved it is WAY easier to focus on the irritating things (done and undone) than to gravitate our attention to the good.
Our January gratitude habits will help us be more present to our significant other this month. What a special gift for Valentines Day- the gift of attention with gratitude.
“To find someone who will love you for no reason, and to shower that person with reasons, that is the ultimate happiness.” Robert Brault
What can you do to “shower your person with reasons” this month?
- Listen without multi-tasking. It is definitely more efficient to fold the laundry (pay bills, wash dishes, etc) and listen to your spouse at the same time. The tricky truth is strong relationship bonds are not built on efficiency. To be a good partner you are best to make eye contact, listen to understand, and ask questions.
- Express Appreciation. “Thank you” is mannerly, but loses it’s verbal impact after years of thank you’s about chores completed. Be vulnerable and acknowledge how your partner provides emotional support, without being asked. “After a long day at work I looked forward to coming home and sharing it with you, thank you for understanding that I need to talk it out.”
- Share what you love. Compliment your spouse by identifying those wonderful qualities that you love. Reflect on the special attributes that make you smile: Maybe it is their sense of humor, thoughtfulness, creativity, compassion. Once you identify one or two, make an opportunity to tell them with a smile on your face.
- Act on Loving Kindness. Now that you are warmed up to thinking about your spouse as a truly awesome human being, put some action behind your loving thoughts. Do one intentional act of kindness every day for a week. This is not “random acts of kindness” we are talking about very purposeful action to show love. Fill their emotional gas tank without expectations.
Wouldn’t marriage be so much simpler if it only involved one person? (I read this somewhere and it made me laugh). There is no such thing as perfection in a relationship, but looking for the good changes our vision. Take some time to consider how you can purposely choose to be responsive to your mate’s needs.
Dare to make a commitment to work on your responsiveness this month.