Posts

When the Simple Things Matter Most

No one enters into a new relationship thinking about how it might end. Most new relationships are filled with excitement, anticipation, and hope. Even years down the road, unless love and compatibility is lost, or serious issues creep into the relationship, few people actually want to see things end. In fact, many couples who believe the end is near have allowed certain vital aspects of a strong relationship to fall to the wayside, and they are desperate to figure out where they have gone wrong and to rekindle that fire that will save them from the end.

Relationships take some effort to maintain. This is not to say that love itself is “work,” but neglecting any aspect of your partnership can result in miscommunication, misunderstandings, hurt feelings, and resentment. And often, even the most communicative of couples will suffer in silence, avoiding talking about their concerns simply because they blame themselves or do not want to start a fight or hurt their spouses feelings. It’s only when those held back feelings are compounded that the bomb explodes and simple issues become major problems. Many factors go into making a relationship work; however, in this article, we are discussing the subtle and simple things that can make a significant difference to you and your partner.

Mind Your Manners
Few of us made it out of childhood without knowing the value of saying please and thank you.  We also learned early on that duties are better shared than left to one person. These values do not fly out the window when we reach adulthood. Never take your partner for granted or let them even think this is the case. If you have a request, say please and talk it over. Don’t just make the decision on your own, leaving your partner out in the cold without any input or choice. If your spouse does something for you, around the house, etc., thank them. Gratitude shows your appreciation, making each task or special effort much more worthwhile. To further show your undying appreciation, share the duties of your life together. Don’t embrace gender roles and leave certain tasks up to one or the other. If something needs doing, get in there and do it, offer to help, or join forces and complete tasks as a team.

Ask and Listen
If you work outside the home, you know that your days can become hectic, stressful, and nerve wracking. The same goes for your spouse. And if one of you happens to be a stay-at-home parent, a homemaker (even without children), or self-employed/working from home, your days are no different from a partner working a conventional job. Each partner should be genuinely interested in the others thoughts, feelings, and activities. Take the time each day to ask your partner about his or her day, and spend some time listening and even talking about concerns, stress, etc. Communication is key to any relationship, and this type of open communication conveys genuine care, concern, compassion, love, and appreciation. By sharing your daily but often separate lives with one another, you build a strong bond of friendship and can rely on one another as confidantes. Even if you have the type of job that requires confidentiality, you can still discuss your concerns and activities in a general way that allows your partner to be a part of this aspect of your life.

These two simple acts make a huge difference in your relationship. Communication and relationships go hand in hand. You must communicate your sincere appreciation, love, and concern on a regular basis. Neglecting to do so can leave your spouse feeling unloved and uncared for. Don’t let such misunderstandings lead to destructive resentment when it is so easy to just take the time to think about your partner and to show them the simple things that matter most.

How to Rewire Your Brain and Build Greater Connection

Think you and your partner are destined to emotionally react to the same old triggers, until “death do you part?” Thanks to research in the field of neuroplasticity by Dan Siegel, Richard Davidson, and Jon Kabat-Zinn to name a few, we now know it’s possible to change our mental patterns to achieve a different outcome. Neuroplasticity is the brain’s ability to reorganize itself by forming new neural connections. Reorganization can be done in a number of ways; however, two extremely effective means are through meditation and mindfulness.

Becoming mindful and aware can help you to identify and observe the patterns in your relationship that may be contributing to feelings of anxiety, disconnection, frustration, and loneliness: your partner perpetually connected to their cell phone instead of you; days-on-end where one or both of you come home from work, too exhausted to connect over the events of the day; your partner coming across as disinterested or apparently too tired to truly listen to what you have to say and share with them. Perhaps your own critical thoughts and defensiveness are taking a toll? These scenarios and more can lead to escalated misunderstandings, stonewalling, and ultimately, the death of your relationship.

In times like these, pause for a moment and ask yourself, “What is coming between me and my partner? Why are we having trouble connecting? What are the patterns that are preventing us from being intimate? What are some practices that can help us, individually and as a couple, to both wake up and open our hearts to one another with compassion and loving kindness?”

Paying close attention to what is going on within you, and within your heart, will give you the ability to be mindful and present to what you are experiencing in the moment. It’s also important to regularly unplug from technology, so that you can be fully present and listen to one another. In this space, you can then come from a place of responding to your partner with calmness and ease, rather than reacting and emotionally “shooting from the hip” without giving forethought to what you say and the actions you take.

Time to Rewire Your Brain

Here’s a short, yet powerful practice to help you figure out what’s necessary to feel connected with yourself and with your partner, so that you can rewire your brain.

  • Gently close your eyes and let your attention focus inward for a moment.
  • Feel your breath, your heart, and the life-energy within your body. Feel yourself – fully here in this moment – in a loving and caring way.
  • Let yourself become open and aware of what is going on inside of you. Observe this with acceptance, kindness, and compassion, and a deep understanding of wanting to know what is going on within you.
  • For the next few moments, as you pay attention to what is going on inside you, take time to ask yourself, “What is going on? What do I need in order to ‘wake up’? What does it mean to be intimate and really connect with my partner and myself?”
  • Relax and let yourself imagine what would help you. Pay close attention and be mindful to what comes up, tuning into those inner whispers that are trying to tell you something. Allow yourself to feel and embody these emotions, thoughts and actions.
  • Most importantly, really focus on channeling love toward your partner and yourself.
  • After you have sat with what has arisen for a few minutes, take a few full breaths and come back to the present moment.

Practicing mindfulness meditation like this will make you aware of the destructive patterns in your relationship and even your life in general. It will help you to cultivate new healthy habits and patterns of communication, and ultimately serve to reorganize and redirect your neural pathways.

Healthy habits, affection, and bonding are essential for your physical, mental, and spiritual well being. When you and your partner feel mutually nurtured and cared for, your neural pathways in your brain fire, leading to feelings of love and greater connection.

Remember, you are in control of your relationship’s emotional and physical destiny! It just takes time, practice, and compassion – for yourself and your partner.

Resource: Gottman Blog
Photo: Courtesy of  digitalart on Freedigitalphotos.net