How to have mindful relationships

Relationships are an essential part of our lives. Our first relationships are with our parents or guardians, siblings, and immediate family. While as a child we may not give much thought to these relationships, they play a vital role as to how we will behave in relationships throughout our lives.

Generally, it is when we start school that we begin to form relationships of our own choosing. We begin to define our own character and to appreciate the things that we like or dislike in others. We start to select our friends based on different criteria, and as we grow, we will form both short-term relationships and some which will withstand the test of time.  As we grow older, our hormones and instincts start driving us towards finding a mate, and we begin to experience the thrill, and heartbreaks, of romantic relationships.

We are all unique individuals and joining forces with another unique individual is a serious and often complicated matter. When we first fall in love, we can see no fault in our partner. As time goes on, we begin to discover that they are nor the perfect entity we thought they were, and many romantic relationships come to a natural end at this point. If the relationship is going to continue, both parties need to work at it, otherwise, it can become a distorted and unbalanced relationship which can cause distress rather than joy.

 Many people find themselves in a relationship for convenience, for family pressure, or simply for custom. Often it is easier to remain in a relationship than to end it, and others stay because they cannot handle being alone and have grown dependent on the other person.

Romantic relationships are complicated, and most of will have several such relationships before finding the person with whom we wish to spend the rest of our lives. Maintaining a relationship of any kind, but particularly a romantic one requires work. Fortunately, the skills necessary to develop a mindful relationship can be learned. Even if your early experiences in relationships did not give you a solid base to work from, it is never too late to learn. 

Unfortunately, relationship management is not included as a course material choice during our formal education and for many, it is not until they find themselves in a relationship with problems that they seek instruction. A trained therapist can help couples to get their relationship back on track through counseling and they can show partners ways to develop a more mindful relationship.

What is mindfulness?

The term mindfulness comes originally from Buddhism and is derived from the Sanskrit words for “attend” and “stay.” The concept involves being truly aware and conscious of everything that is occurring around and within you at the present moment in time.

What is a mindful relationship?

 A mindful relationship is one where both parties are attentive, considerate, tolerant, compassionate, supportive, communicative, trustful, honest, and loving. 

A mindful relationship is based on paying attention to the other person. That means giving them your complete attention and listening to what they are expressing without judgment, anger, or escaping. This is not easy, as we often instinctively act or respond in a defiant, defensive, or negative way if we are not in agreement with what the other person is saying. Our own ego can often impede us from maintaining our calm. 

Gradually, it is possible to become conscious of your ego and to be aware of your feelings without reacting to them. You can learn how not to feel threatened by the confrontation but to really understand what the other person is trying to express. Listen deeply and learn about your partner’s hopes, plans, fears, and stresses. If we can truly empathize, we can have compassion and can help our partners to suffer less when they feel confused, scared, or simply human.

Getting to really know yourself is essential before you can really get to know someone else. We are all unique individuals and must learn to love ourselves for who we are before we will be able to really love someone else for who they are. As your awareness and control of your feelings and emotions grow you will discover a greater acceptance of yourself and of others. Once you can accept yourself as you are, with your good points and your faults, you can begin to accept others in the same way. This allows trust and understanding to grow in a mindful relationship.

Feeling valued and appreciated increases our desire to establish a closer and deeper relationship, so express your appreciation for your partner. Mindful relationships promote respect for one another and allow both parties to be who they are. Neither person tries to mold, model, or change the other person, they respect, admire, appreciate, value, and love them for who they are.

Even once you have managed to establish a mindful relationship with your partner, the work’s not over. To keep it functioning you need to be able to discuss openly and freely your shared beliefs which will keep you bound together. You should develop and agree to voluntarily abide by rules and roles which work for you. These may not be the same as the commonly accepted norms, they can be something which is specific to you, your relationship, and your needs. You should develop rituals and ways to express your support for each other, to strengthen your commitment, and to unite you as a tribe.

By learning and consciously practicing these techniques and strategies, you can develop your awareness and acceptance of yourself and your partner to enjoy a meaningful and mindful relationship that lasts. That’s not to say that it’s all going to be plain sailing. There will always be external forces which will present challenges to your relationship but with clear and calm communication there is no problem that cannot be resolved.

Developing your ability to create mindful relationships will enhance your relationship with your partner, your workmates, friends, and family. It will also allow you to show your children how to have mindful relationships that will enrich their lives.


author avatar
Angel Rivera
I am a Bilingual (Spanish) Psychiatrist with a mixture of strong clinical skills including Emergency Psychiatry, Consultation Liaison, Forensic Psychiatry, Telepsychiatry and Geriatric Psychiatry training in treatment of the elderly. I have training in EMR records thus very comfortable in working with computers. I served the difficult to treat patients in challenging environments in outpatient and inpatient settings
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