Mindfulness is being present in the moment without trying to alter it in any way. In a marriage, it entails consciously tuning into your spouse’s words, body language, desires and even breath to grow and connect on a deeper level. But how, in the whirlwind of kids, work and responsibilities, are you supposed to create these mindful moments? Well, there are quite a few ways to mindfully connect with your spouse.
One of the most common complaints from married couples is that their partner just doesn’t seem to listen. In fact, many spouses complain that their mate doesn’t retain information, even to the point of forgetting entire conversations. However, mindful listening can shift both your mindsets and allow you to be better listeners. It’s also important to remember that your spouse probably isn’t tuning you out on purpose, rather they may have trouble focusing or have a tendency to talk more than listen.
Listening mindfully entails intentionally focusing in on your spouse’s words. Pause before asking questions or making remarks and refrain from interrupting or interjecting. Don’t let your mind wander to other topics or what your response might be. Instead, be fully present in the moment and notice their mannerisms, tone and vocal fluctuations. When they finish speaking, take a moment to fully digest their words, then respond thoughtfully.
2) Eye contact
While practicing mindful listening, it’s important to also make meaningful eye contact. If the eyes truly are the windows to the soul, they’ll give you a deeper understanding of your partner. So spend some time gazing into them. Sitting face-to-face with a spouse while maintaining eye contact allows both sides to see the other’s vulnerability and innermost feelings and thoughts. It also helps you listen more mindfully by helping you focus.
You can also use mindful eye contact to develop a more romantic connection with your spouse. Lingering looks can be extremely intimate and invite more physical touch as can looking at their eyes and lips periodically. And, remember when you’d peek at your first crush — staring at them until they caught you and then quickly looking away? Try it with your spouse. Add a smile to make the connection more flirtatious.
3) Sync up your breath
Likewise, simply breathing can develop more intimacy in your marriage. Just as you’re mindful of your breath in yoga or meditation, you can bring this awareness into your relationship to connect on a deeper level. For instance, when you wake up in the morning or before you go to sleep at night, sync your breath with your spouse. You can even do this while they’re sleeping to evoke feelings of comfort and peace.
You can also make time to intentionally sync your breath. Try sitting back to back and meditating together. Match their breath to create one unified inhale and exhale. Breathing mindfully together will help you tune into other small nuances of their body language and words in the future.
4) Limit technology
How much time do you spend on technology versus your partner? The average U.S. adult spends nearly four hours on a mobile device each day and roughly 3 hours watching TV. Yet, spouses only spend an average of two and a half to three hours together each day. And one-third of that time is spent watching TV, which typically doesn’t allow for the aforementioned intimacy of eye contact and mindful listening.
To fully engage and connect with your partner, you’ll have to tune out or turn off the distractions — that means technology. Create a kid-free, tech-free time each day when you can sit down and talk about more than just logistics. Or do something active together a few times a week that might incite conversation. Go for a walk around the block, cycle together at the gym or even learn a new sport like fishing or golfing. Keep this time technology-free to truly connect and tune into your partner.
5) Reflect on the past
Recalling memories of the good old days is another way to fill this tech-free time. Gather some old videos or photos and use them as conversation cues. Play the music you danced to at your wedding or old tunes from your favorite band. Avoid negative or invalidating comments as these will only muddy your memories and defeat the whole purpose of reflecting on your past together.
You might also make a list of your favorite memories as a couple. Did sparks fly when you first met? Did your heart leap from your chest after your sharing your first kiss? Write down your favorite moments and share them with your spouse. Thank them for all the wonderful times you’ve shared and work together to make more happy memories in the present. This will help you appreciate your time together and you might think twice before responding negatively or reacting harshly during your next argument.
It starts with you
If you wait for your partner to change their ways or make the effort to connect, you may wait for the rest of your life. So, if you want to know your spouse on a deeper level, it must begin with you. Take initiative and practice mindful listening and eye gazing, even if your partner doesn’t notice immediately. Make a conscious effort to take a break from technology and spend quality time reviving your marriage. Sooner or later, your partner will take note of your efforts and likely initiate a more mindful connection too.