Posts

Building Your Marriage on the Four Foundations of Mindfulness

The Four Foundations of Mindfulness are based on the Satipatthana Sutta, one of the most important and widely studied discourses in Buddhism. This fourfold “establishment of mindfulness” was created to help us attain, as well as maintain, moment-to-moment mindfulness in our lives.

The Four Foundations of Mindfulness are:

  1. Mindfulness of your body
  2. Mindfulness of your feelings
  3. Mindfulness of your mind or consciousness
  4. Mindfulness of how your mind operates

It’s important to note that you don’t have to be a Buddhist to benefit from practicing mindfulness in your marriage. As we’ve read in The Mindful Marriage, mindfulness empowers you to become more present to everything in your life, including your relationship with your partner.

Mindfulness of Your Body

The first foundation is mindfulness of your physical body. This base foundation provides a starting point and brings you into the present moment. You can get in tune with your body by doing Mindfulness Meditation or by conducting a body scan.

The intention of a body scan is to simply become aware of and present with your body. It’s nice to relax and it’s great if it happens, but that’s not the goal of this exercise. The goal is to check in with each area of your body in a nonjudgmental way, to feel what there is to feel.

The Mindful Marriage Body Scan
Begin by sitting comfortably. Start to “feel” into the areas of your body that are in contact with your chair in this moment. Feel into where your feet touch the ground. Feel where your legs, your back, your arms, and maybe even your head comes into contact with the chair. You may be feeling tingling or a change in temperature. Notice your breath entering and leaving your body. Remember to continue to breathe easily throughout this entire exercise.

Now, move your attention to your ankles and lower legs. What do you feel? Perhaps it’s the pressure of your legs against the ground or fabric. If you notice that your attention is somewhere else, gently and without judgment return your attention to your legs. Sometimes it’s helpful to imagine that you are breathing into your lower legs – as if your attention could ride on the breath.

Next, move your attention to your knees and thighs. What do you feel? Remember, tingling or even numbness counts as a sensation. Notice that thinking about a specific area or picturing it in your mind’s eye is different from actually feeling it.

Let your focus move from your thighs to your lower trunk, your pelvis and your belly, up to your belly button. Notice any sensations in these areas.

Now, let go and feel into your upper body – your stomach and chest areas, feeling the sensations of the breath here with each inhalation and each exhalation. Feel your spine against the back of the chair. Notice any sensations – or absence of sensations – that are here.

From here, move your attention to your hands and each of your fingers. Then, when you’re ready, move your focus to your wrists and forearms and feel there. From there, move to your elbows and upper arms, noticing any sensations or lack of sensations. Remember, if your mind wanders off, bring it back to the body part you are focusing on.

Move your attention to your shoulders, the back of your neck, and then to your head. Feel your jaw, your face, mouth, nose, cheeks, eyes, forehead, and your entire face.

Now, become openly aware of your entire body again. Imagine breathing from the crown of your head all the way down into your toes and up and out again. Notice all the sensations in body and allow them to be just as they are in this moment.

Allow some movement back into your body, like wiggling your fingers and toes. Stretch your body in any way it wants that feels good. Take a moment to reflect on your experience.

In marriage, mindfulness of your body will help you to become cognizant of yourself before tension can elevate into conflict. For example, if you’re talking with your partner and you feel a knot in your stomach, it may be a signal that you need to express something that you’re holding back. Pay attention to fluctuation in your body temperature, pressure in your head, tension or pain in your joints, and tingling in your hands and feet.

Mindfulness of Your Feelings

The second foundation is mindfulness of your feelings or sensations. As you begin to become mindful of your physical body, your awareness of feelings and sensations also becomes heightened.

Feelings can be classified into three tones:

  1. Pleasant
  2. Unpleasant
  3. Neutral

These tones correspond with your emotions and help you to see things as they really are.

It’s not unusual to see things differently than your partner. For example, if you both watch the same movie, one of you may love it and think of it as a pleasant experience while the other may really dislike it and perceive it as an unpleasant experience. Your different “feelings” about the movie can result in a disagreement that escalates and leads to conflict.

Coming to terms with your feelings and emotions, especially when they’re unpleasant, can be downright uncomfortable. Given the choice, most of us would prefer to avoid them and push them under the rug. This is unhealthy. Instead, take time to understand your feelings and label them – pleasant, unpleasant, neutral. Remember that these tones aren’t judgments or thoughts. They are merely a way to classify what you are feeling and sensing so that you can comfortably “be” with things as they are.

Mindfulness of Your Mind or Consciousness

The third foundation is mindfulness of your mind or consciousness. Another way to think of this foundation is to be mindful of your mental state without making judgements. This foundation focuses on turning your attention towards your mental activity (those thoughts and emotions running rampant in your head) and offers up a different lens to see them as objects that can be observed in a non-reactive way.

Just like your feelings and sensations, your various states of mind come and go, depending on what is happening in your relationship and your life in general. Sometimes you are restless and discontent, sometimes you are happy and full of positivity. These thoughts, feelings, and states of mind can pull you into a narrative that may not be accurate. This only serves to distract you from the present moment.

As you learn to observe your mental states without judgment or opinion, you can start to disentangle yourself from unbeneficial thoughts. Mindfulness of your mind with this awareness will empower you to approach your marriage with a newfound perspective.

Mindfulness of How Your Mind Operates

The fourth and last foundation is mindfulness of how your mind operates. This foundation focuses on opening yourself up to the world you experience.

This asks you to look at your subjective experiences as a gateway. It prompts you to ask questions like, “What am I identifying with or resisting that keeps me tied to this suffering?” or, “What is the origin of this suffering?” Being mindful of your experiences in this way allows you to get to the root of your subjective experience, allowing you to become fully aware and open.

For example, if you’ve had a regrettable incident with your partner, you’re likely feeling sad, angry, misunderstood, tense and/or irritable. You may launch into negative thoughts and judgments about yourself or your partner and how you both reacted. You might be thinking, “Why was he/she so mean? Nothing ever seems to work between us!”

If you can be mindful of how your mind operates, unpacking the experience so it doesn’t remain a ball of confused emotions, sensations, and mind states, then you are more apt to reduce gridlock in your relationship. This allows whatever is arising in your body in response to conflict – that tension or shortness of breath you’re experiencing – to come and go with an attitude of friendliness, openness, and understanding. In this state, you become more self-aware and can resist the urge to stonewall.

Putting these Four Foundations of Mindfulness into practice will ultimately put you in touch with your body, feelings, mind, and how your mind operates, helping you to wake up to yourself, your partner, and the needs of your marriage.

 

Article source: The Gottman Blog

Transforming Everyday Relationship Issues

Marriage is not pleasant all of the time, but certainly you will have more happier than sad times. It is natural to have those moments where you question if this is the right situation for you – your partner will do the same. There are, however, those situations that never make it work, like cheating or deal-breaking behaviors. But, believe it or not there are marriage problems that are considered “good” problems that will not mess up your relationship and should never be considered deal breakers.

Fantasizing about Others

A lot of couples who are looking for answers to what makes relationships work are concerned about their fantasies or their partner’s fantasies for someone other than their significant other. Believe it or not, these fantasies are nothing to worry about – in fact, they are healthy. Having an imagination allows you and your partner to open up more emotionally and physically with one another. Of course, you should not act on these fantasies.

Going Out with the Guys

Many women get defensive or feel their husband is leaving them out when they go out for guy time. Interests and maintaining friend relationships outside of the marriage are key in finding what makes relationships work. This break from the relationship allows each partner to miss one another, engage in activities and release any steam that could create tension down the road.

Arguing

You may have fights, but fights do not mean your relationship is over or even close to over. Fighting is a way for partners to share how they feel with one another – meaning you both trust one another enough to get it all out in the open. As long as you both do not attack one another, productive arguing can strengthen your marriage. Also, avoid recycling old arguments – meaning try not to bring up an argument that happened last week. Once it is over and resolved, it is done.

Being Too Tired for Sex

Intimacy is important in any relationship, but there are times one or the other may be too tired to engage in sex or other intimate activities. Today’s couple is often over-scheduled and it is not uncommon to have limited time for intimacy or anything else. Try scheduling a time for intimacy rather than waiting for that magical “spark” so that you have fun – it is something to look forward to and you get that testosterone and mojo moving again.

A healthy marriage can be full of “good” problems. Often couples assume these good problems are detrimental to the success of their relationship and they begin to pull away. As long as you are open, honest and willing to work through your issues, you and your partner will understand what makes relationships work faster than any other couple in the neighborhood.

Save

Save

Things Husbands Resent about Their Wives and How to Overcome Them

Even the best marriage isn’t 100% perfect. There are times where both parties will feel a little resentment, and while they won’t cause a divorce, it is all about how the couple handles these issues that makes the difference. When people ignore these emotions and just sweet them under the rug, more toxic feelings can fester, which leads to resentment. For men, it is easier to sweet an issue under the rug than attack it, so understand what makes your husband aggravated and how to handle it may actually improve your marriage.

 

How You Fight

Happy couples have fights too. A happy couple, however, knows how to fight better. Rather than blaming their partner, they discuss their feelings and what they’re aggravated about. When you need to bring up a conversation, don’t start it off on a negative note or with the blame-game; instead, let your partner know how you feel and what you suggest to overcome it.

 

Treating Your Husband like a Child

You might think your husband is a slob or can’t dress himself, but if you start doing it for him, he will resent you. Treating your husband like a child or talking down to him can create significant resentment issues. After all, no one wants to feel like they aren’t in charge of their own life.

 

Getting Others Involved

Men rarely enlist the help from others to solve their marital problems. Women, however, will discuss it with friends and family. These individuals will get involved, which only makes matters worse. Rather than allow others in, create a couple’s bubble and keep your marital issues between the two of you.

 

Appreciating the Right Things

Your husband does things and doesn’t expect appreciation for it, but there are times offering up praise is important. If you only recognize the things he does wrong and you don’t offer praise for the things he does right, he may start to resent you for it. Consider noting when he does things right and giving him the attention he deserves for it.

 

Punishing by Withholding Sex

How many times have you gotten upset with your partner only to withhold sex? While you might think you’re justified, holding sex back as a way to punish your partner does long-term damage to your relationship. This can create feelings of resentment that your partner will harbor for months – if not years. Next time you’re upset, tell him, but don’t withhold sex.

 

Changing Him

People can change, but only when they want to change. There may be something you don’t like about your partner, but you shouldn’t work to change that thing. If you focus on all of the things you don’t like about your partner and try to change him constantly, he won’t feel like his own person. Instead, accept your partner for the way he is, let him do his quirky things and work on changing what is really important – let the little things go.

 

While these things may seem trivial, the more you do them, the more they add up. Try to avoid negative feelings in your relationship by discussing your issues with one another. Keep in mind that happy couples still fight and it’s perfectly healthy. But the way you handle the fights and what you fight about can determine the overall success of your relationship.