ERP 143: How to Increase Relationship Satisfaction with Mindfulness – Part Two

By Posted in - How To Improve Your Relationship & Podcast June 3rd, 2018 2 Comments relationship satisfaction with mindfulness

Topic: Relationship satisfaction with mindfulness

If you missed part one, you can check it out here ERP 142, where I give you explanations and examples of mindfulness and how you may already be practicing mindfulness in your life. With a better understanding of mindfulness in general, let’s talk about how mindfulness benefits our relationship.

(Please listen to the podcast episode or read the transcript to hear explanations, stories and examples.)

How Mindfulness benefits relationships.

Research is beginning to show us that higher levels of mindfulness contribute to happier, more satisfying relationships.

Generally, mindfulness helps us:

Keeps Things Fresh:

  • You are less likely to take each other for granted or be caught up in your stories and expectations.
  • You are more likely to recognize the growth and newness in your partner.
  • You are more likely to appreciate and value your partner because you are more in the moment and paying quality attention to them.

Soothes Fears and Anxieties:

  • While being in relationship provides love and connection, it can also stimulate anxieties and insecurities.
  • Fears of being hurt will make us more reactive and protective. Unfortunately, these reactive and protective strategies push our partner away, and lead to more pain, conflict, and disconnect.
  • Mindfulness is a valuable tool for dealing with our fears and reactions.

Learning to deal with our insecurities is probably one of the most important skills in keeping a relationship healthy and happy.

7 Ways Mindfulness Benefits You and Your Relationship.

1. More Attentive

  • With mindfulness practice, we strengthen the area in our brains associated with attention and focus.
  • When practicing mindfulness, we can recognize when we have spaced out, started thinking about something else and come back to our partner.
  • For partner’s whose primary love language is “quality time,” attention and focus are the ultimate ways of feeling loved and cared about. When a partner is distracted and preoccupied, they may feel as though “You don’t really care. You don’t really love me.”
  • Regardless of your partner’s primary love language, being present and engaged helps create a safe space for your partner to share and express more fully, which it turn cultivates a deeper sense of understanding, intimacy, and connection.

2. Able to respond Rather Than React.

  • When practicing mindfulness, we develop our capacity for increased emotional regulation.
  • In previous podcast episodes, I have talked about how easily our “fight, flight, or freeze” mode can get activated when we feel threatened. When we are in a triggered place, it is very difficult if not impossible to respond in a level and skillful way.
  • Research shows that with mindfulness, we are able to decrease the volume of the amygdala.
  • The switch to our “flight, flight or freeze” response is not as easily flipped. The amygdala has less power to hijack us.

Being able to respond rather than react helps partners slow down, take pause and assess the situation before jumping to conclusions. Once we have calmed down, we can communicate more clearly and from the heart, rather than reacting and getting into negative cycles or destructive behavior.

3. More Emotionally Regulated

  • Mindfulness strengthens the prefrontal cortex and improves the connectivity between the prefrontal cortex and the amygdala.
  • The prefrontal cortex is the part of the brain that is responsible for higher level thinking, perceiving other’s emotions, decision-making, moderating our behavior and regulating our own emotional expression.
  • These are all critical brain functions to being able to relate to someone else effectively.
  • One of the primary goals of keeping yourself regulated (calm and collected) is to stay in the prefrontal cortex. As soon as your amygdala is firing away, you are in protection mode.

How Mindfulness Can Save Your Relationship By Lisa Firestone
“A typical conversation between a couple may involve one partner remarking, “You used to be up for anything. You were so lively when we met.” This may spark a defensive response in the other partner: “What? You’re saying I’m not spontaneous anymore? You think I’m boring? What about you? You never get off the couch!” This type of angry and accusatory response tends to have a snowball effect. “I never said you were boring, and now you’re calling me lazy? I work day and night to make you happy. You’re so ungrateful.” By Lisa Firestone

Without mindfulness, one is likely to have a short fuse and respond in defended demeanor (i.e. “What is wrong with you?”).

With mindfulness, one is likely to recognize something is going on and be more sensitive. (i.e. “Honey, I see you. Do you want to talk about it?”)

  • Imagine a scenario where your partner has done or said something that you find alarming or challenging.
  • You feel triggered. You feel your emotions rising to the surface.
  • You are at a choice point. You can react or take a few moments to notice your thoughts and emotions.
  • As you stay present to noticing your experience (without getting caught up in your story or emotional reaction), you may begin to gain some perspective and emotional balance.
  • Then, you can address the situation from a more regulated way rather than just reacting in a defensive and protective manner.

Stay tuned for the next episode for the next four Ways Mindfulness Can Benefit You and Your Relationship.



Click on this link to access the transcript for this episode: 143: HOW TO INCREASE RELATIONSHIP SATISFACTION WITH MINDFULNESS – PART TWO [TRANSCRIPT]

If you have a topic you would like me to discuss, please contact me by clicking on the “Ask Dr. Jessica Higgins” button here.

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(2) awesome folk have had something to say...

  • Nicole Reed - Reply

    January 26, 2020 at 7:02 pm

    This is exactly what I have been struggling with my entire adult life. I can’t seem to control the fight or flight reaction when I am triggered. This has ruined many relationships and is very much an issue in the current relationship. Unfortunately my partner also struggles with it so I don’t have much hope for our future together. It is very sad because we do love each other. We want a future together but not one that is so full of these challenges. I love your podcasts but unfortunately I cannot get him to listen to them. Thank you for your continued work in helping people with your podcasts. They are wonderful.

    • Dr. Jessica Higgins - Reply

      February 17, 2020 at 9:56 am

      Hi Nicole,

      Thank you for your comment. I am so sorry to hear about the relationship patterns that you are experiencing with your partner, as it relates to feeling the flight or flight reaction. It can be so, so painful. I hope that you continue to listen, as I do my best to offer ways of building more safety and security in relationship. If you are ever interested in getting more support, you can learn more about coaching here:
      Wishing you all the best, Jessica

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