In the intricate journey of love and companionship, being mindful of big and little changes in your relationship’s dynamic can help you nurture your connection with your partner. This involves being fully present in the moment and attuned to the subtleties that shape how you feel about your partner and your relationship.
A study published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health found that practicing relationship mindfulness daily (i.e., being open, receptive, and aware of what is taking place internally and externally in your relationship) buffered the negative effects of relationship insecurity, particularly for individuals with attachment avoidance.
Practicing mindfulness can deepen our connection, heighten our understanding, and help us navigate relationship challenges more effectively.
Here are three essential observations to take note of in your relationships, in order to avoid issues arising out of neglect.
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#1. Take note of your bodily sensations when you are around your partner
Our bodies often reveal subtle signals that can provide valuable insights into the quality of our relationships. As powerful messengers, these sensations can be indicators of how we truly feel.
Tune into your bodily cues by:
- Paying attention to the sensations that arise when you are in the presence of your partner. Do you feel a sense of ease and comfort or do you experience tension and uneasiness?
- Noticing your bodily cues during moments of conflict or intimacy. Are there physical manifestations of stress, such as increased heart rate, shallow breathing, or muscle tension? Conversely, do you experience feelings of relaxation, safety, and contentment when engaging in loving gestures?
These physical sensations can provide valuable data about the level of emotional connection in your relationship. They could also offer a starting off point for you to initiate open and honest conversations to address underlying concerns, and work towards creating a more fulfilling relationship.
According to a study published in Sexual and Relationship Therapy, the practice of observing your bodily sensations deeply in your relationship can be especially beneficial for your sex life and keep that spark burning long and bright.
#2. What do your relationship repair attempts and accountability look like?
Relationships are susceptible to challenges and conflicts. Disagreements and misunderstandings can arise intermittently, but how we respond to these situations determines the true strength and quality of our relationship.
While sincere repair attempts restore emotional connection through deliberate and constructive conflict resolution, accountability ensures that you take responsibility for any of your actions that may have caused harm, and make genuine efforts to rectify the mistakes.
Moreover, a study published in the Journal of Family Psychology suggests that making up after a fight is an emotional muscle that you can train, and gets stronger over time. For couples who take post-conflict repair and resolution seriously, regaining emotional intimacy after a fight gets progressively easier, according to the study.
To assess whether you are engaging in healthier repair attempts and accountability, reflect by asking yourself the following questions:
- Do you and your partner engage in constructive communication to seek resolution, or do you fall into patterns of blame, defensiveness, and avoidance?
- Are both you and your partner willing to take ownership of your actions, offer apologies when necessary, and actively work towards making amends?
#3. Is your intimacy authentic or do you only show filtered versions of yourselves?
In the age of social media and curated online personas, it is essential to reflect on the authenticity of our interactions within our relationships. When we hide parts of ourselves or present an idealized image, we rob our relationships of true intimacy and connection.
Authenticity stands on the pillar of vulnerability and the willingness to show up as our imperfect selves. When we embrace our true selves and encourage our partners to do the same, we create a safe space where no one is judged for being honest. There is even a room for growth by working on the mistakes each partner makes.
To nurture this quality, examine the following:
- Are you able to say exactly what is on your mind to your partner at any given time, or do you find yourself mincing your words or tweaking your reactions each time?
- When you both are out together, do you treat each other in the same way as you do when you are at home? If not, what is it that is causing you to change your behavior?
A study published in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin suggests that when there is alignment between an individual's ideal self (the person they aspire to be) and their relational self (how they present themselves in a specific relationship), it promotes a sense of relational authenticity. That is to say, when you express and embody your desired qualities and values within a relationship, you lay a strong and authentic foundation for your relationship to stand on.