Being Fully Present in Your Relationship

MINDFULNESS-RELATIONSHIPS

Being Fully Present in Your Relationship

When we get used to being with our partner we can sometimes take them for granted. We assume they’ll always be there. So we move on to our worries and stresses. We become so preoccupied with the kids or the challenges in our career that when we are eating dinner and trying to take part in meaningful dialogue, we aren’t even there. Then there is the constant distraction of our electronic devices that although convenient also become an obstacle to chitchat, discussion and intimate conversation. After a while without meaningful interaction we start to feel like roommates with our partner or spouse rather than lovers. The day-in, day-out decisions of running the household, parenting and paying the bills become the focus, and otherwise each person lives in their own separate bubble. When it comes time to interact, give your partner your undivided attention. When we aren’t fully present we aren’t showing them the love and respect they deserve. Instead, we are neglectful, albeit not on purpose. But the message we are inadvertently sending is that what is on my mind is more important than you. Misunderstandings arise when we don’t listen fully to our partner. This can lead to problems or even terrible fights. So how can we be more present with our partner?

First, make a conscious effort to focus on them and what they are saying. If there is something particularly important on your mind and you are distracted, tell them about it. Let them know how you feel and schedule another time to talk. Try and give them your undivided attention and expect the same in return. Make positive eye contact. Repeat back what they’ve said in your own words to show that you understand. When your partner or spouse seems distracted, don’t tell them or remind them of something. Wait until you have their full attention. If you are distracted and they told you something, don’t assume that they will remind you. It’s best to check with your partner in a positive manner whenever you are unsure. Regular running of the household exchanges are of course important. But they don’t help build intimacy. You two have to make time to talk on a deeper level. At the end of the day, we may be so exhausted that we just want to watch a couple of TV shows or surf the net, check our social media pages and go to bed. But that doesn’t bring you closer. Instead, clear out a little time each day to spend talking on a deeper level.  Not just, “How was your day?” But what really happened to you today? What were you thinking about? How did it make you feel?

Sometimes you have to leave the dishes in the sink or put off laundry and spend a little couple time together. Some experts say having more sex is the answer. But a recent study found that building intimacy is far more important. When miscommunication, unfulfilled expectations and misunderstandings occur they get in the way of real intimacy, and so not only block your connection but your ability to get physical. Hurt feelings get in the way. When we are fully present with our partner, the chances of miscommunication and misunderstandings are lower. Knowing what they expect will help meet or exceed expectations and vice-versa. Mindfulness is a touchstone nowadays. This is an ancient Buddhist practice that has become trendy lately in the West. This is the art of being fully present in the here and now and appreciating each moment in all its richness. If we could practice mindfulness in our relationships they would be so much more intimate. Couples would have a deeper sense of intimacy, better sex and superior communication too. To learn more pick up a copy of, The Mindful Couple: How Acceptance and Mindfulness Can Lead You to the Love You Want by Robyn D. Walser, Ph.D. and Darrah Westrup, Ph.D.

Common Relationship Blunders

neglected

Common Relationship Blunders

No matter what stage you’re in, whether you are in a new relationship and want to do it right or just walked away from a bad one, anyone can benefit from learning what common relationship blunders take a couple who have potential and drive them apart. If you can catch these early on, or you and your partner have the gumption to renew your bond, you can change your fate and fall into a close, loving, and supportive relationship.

One of the most common is that as time wears on couples tend to slip into a very comfortable phase. The niceties slip and sooner or later they are taking each other for granted. It’s important to show your appreciation for one another. Reflect on what your life would be like without them. Then think about what they bring into your life. Leave them love notes. Tell them they look nice in what they’re wearing. Whisper sweet nothings into each other’s ears. Make it special and make it count. If you take each other for granted, each of you will feel undesirable and unfulfilled, and may stray outside the relationship in order to fulfill those needs.

Another problem is when it goes the other way. One partner appreciates the other too much. That is to say they become dependent, or needy. If you feel insecure, look to the signs of your relationship to see if these feelings are justified. Do they call when they say they will? What do they say to you? Do they compliment you? Do nice things for you? If all signs point to a healthy, stable, well-adjusted relationship then relax. If you or your partner are feeling these signs of insecurity perhaps discuss them, or even seek the help of a mental health professional.

Do you complain about your partner to everyone except them? First, you two have to learn how to deal with your problems directly. You shouldn’t be complaining about them to everyone. Deal with them directly, or vent to a confidant. But if you are constantly focusing on the negative you will not see the positive in your partner and the relationship will thus sour. Come to terms with your sweetie’s shortcomings and expect them to come to terms with yours. Otherwise if you can’t, this isn’t the person for you. The same thing goes for passive-aggressiveness. Instead of slinging barbs learn to communicate in a positive and productive manner. For more on this topic read, Relationship Advice: How to Rekindle and Cultivate Healthy, Passionate, and Long-Lasting Relationships by Henry Lee.

ADHD and Relationships

couple at therapy

ADHD and Relationships

When one person has ADHD in a relationship, and the other person doesn’t, unique problems can occur. The power dynamic can become that of a parent to child, which isn’t healthy. The non-ADHD person becomes the one with the power, guiding, reminding and helping their partner. When the ADHD partner has a chore to be done, their counterpart may remind them, indeed several times, until the ADHD partner does it. Or the non-ADHD partner may give up and do it themselves rather than keep reminding their other half. Eventually, too many chores or responsibilities are allocated to the non-ADHD partner.

The symptoms of ADHD unmanaged are permanent. Distraction, memory problems and other symptoms start to weigh on the relationship. The non-ADHD partner becomes the parent, the ADHD partner the child. The power dynamic in this relationship becomes off kilter, leaning only to one side. This leads to a lack of respect on the part of the non-ADHD partner as they begin to view their partner like a child, and a condescending attitude can ensue. The ADHD partner begins to resent their significant other.

Adaptation is generally considered a good thing. One partner sees an issue arising and both partners change to meet and overcome it. Some research has shown however that stronger couples see problems coming down the pike and counteract them before they become an issue in the relationship. For ADHD, this power dynamic increases over time. As more and more control is lent to the non-ADHD partner and the more they become the parent, the other the child, the more resentment builds. Both people in this relationship have their problems with the other. One doesn’t want to do all of the work of the other. The ADHD partner doesn’t want to be treated like a child. They get tired of constant reminders, general bossiness and nagging. And the non-ADHD partner gets tired of doing so. And this dynamic puts a strain on the relationship. The couple feels less inclined toward positive feelings of love, affection, physical intimacy and romance.

Child/parent dynamics will almost inevitably lead to relationship or marital dysfunction. ADHD should be treated with the help of a mental health professional. Both partners should be involved. But if you are married or seriously involved with someone who has ADHD or if you have ADHD make sure to talk about it in depth with your partner. Treatment should also be sought. For more advice read, The ADHD Effect On Marriage: Understand and Rebuild Your Relationship in Six Steps by Melissa Orlov.

A Happy Marriage is a Choice

positive

A Happy Marriage is a Choice

Marriage has its ups and downs. Sometimes you’re jiving and sometimes you’re bickering. There are times when you can’t get enough of each other. And other times when you can’t wait until they leave the house. There are people in sexless marriages, people just sticking it out for the kids, and people absolutely miserable but feel as if they are cornered. The truth is that a happy marriage is a choice. Though things could have turned out bad, they didn’t start out that way or you wouldn’t have gotten married to begin with.

First, you have to realize that happiness comes from within. Sure, we all have needs and some of them we can fulfil ourselves, others we need from our partner. But no matter what happens in life, you choose your perspective. You choose how to react to it. So happiness is all a matter of outlook. You decide one minute to the next whether to focus on your spouse’s good points or their less than stellar qualities. You decide whether to own your happiness, or unhappiness, or to export these to your spouse. So decide to be happy. Don’t focus on the flaws. If they are insignificant or something you can come to terms with do so. If not, then rethink your marriage.

Find ways to negotiate. Agree to disagree on little things. Trust your partner to handle things and don’t give them the third degree to see if they did so to your specifications. Make time for each other, even if it’s just a little each day. Choose to consistently put forth the effort and invest time and care in your relationship. Choose to make you your best self and to encourage your spouse to be their best self. Be friends and lovers at the same time. Friends enjoy each other’s company, laugh together and do things together. You should too. Laughter is one of the most essential things. If you can laugh together, really laugh and have fun, you are golden. If you are merely trading sarcastic barbs across the coffee table, you’re doomed.

Remember that your spouse is not your adversary. They are your teammate. They are on your side. And if it gets to the point where it starts to feel adversarial, remind them. And remind yourself if you stray too far off too. Remember that real happiness is centered inside you. It is a long term process, not a short term elation. It takes time, practice and effort. No one can make you happy. You can only do it yourself. Choose to be happy. Choose to make your mate happy. And choose to let them make you happy too. For more advice read, 47 Little Love Boosters for a Happy Marriage: Connect and Instantly Deepen Your Bond No Matter How Busy You Are by Marko Petkovic, M.Sc.

Things Divorce Teaches You about Marriage

divorce

Things Divorce Teaches You about Marriage

A divorce can be devastating. It’s one of those pains that you don’t really understand unless you’ve been through it. Not only does it cause tremendous upheaval in your life, it alters how you view yourself and romantic relationships. Some people swear off marriage wholeheartedly, while others jump into the next one as if their last had nothing to teach them. But most of us reflect on the state of marriage and relationships at this time. If a split is anything it’s a great teacher. Here are some things divorce teaches you about marriage. First, marriages are always different for those living them than how they are viewed from the outside. Sometimes when someone gets divorced, others are shocked, thinking they had the perfect marriage. Issues that seem reconcilable to some are end games to others. But some people somehow find a way to make it work. Everyone’s marriage is a bit messy, much like human life, though they may seem picture perfect from where you stand. If we could just break down the walls and talk about what marriage is really like, instead of putting on airs, perhaps we could make everyone’s better.

Another problem leading to divorce is a sexless marriage. Make time to be physical together. Statistics show that 20% of marriages today are sexless. But becoming physically intimate is a way for both people to bond. Being in a sexless marriage itself may be a big warning sign that things aren’t going well for one or both parties. Of course men tend to compartmentalize. With women, if things aren’t going well in the relationship, goings-on in the bedroom suffer. That’s because to a woman the emotional intimacy in the relationship is what’s most important. Though this may be important for a man, most men are more driven by libido. A failed marriage makes us look at other marriages in a new way. What are others really struggling with and how do they make it work? Communication is always crucial. But so is negotiation, not holding grudges, clearing the air and coming to a deep understanding of one another. We also need to accept the flaws in ourselves and our spouse for what they are. Recognition is one thing, acceptance another. One of the common causes of divorce is infidelity. Some people are shocked when they find that their husband or wife was cheating. A person may be an incredible breadwinner, an expert parent, a phenomenal homemaker and still have a spouse who cheats. The reason people go astray is they are trying to heal something wrong inside the relationship through outside means.

One of the problems with modern marriage that experts often point out is that we expect our spouse to take up all of the roles that traditionally an entire village provided. We want them to be our mentor, coach, partner, lover, confidante, best friend, co-parent and more. Find some of these needs outside your relationship if you can, and take some pressure off of your spouse. Spending some time with friends or close family members and becoming more well-rounded people by spending time at one’s favorite pursuits can help replenish each person and the marriage as well. But tenaciously clinging to one’s partner can bring the whole thing down. It’s best when both people are totally fulfilled, realized people who choose to go through life together. Marriage isn’t easy. But for most Americans, they see little alternative. We’ve been called serial monogamists and perhaps it still fits, at least if you are of a certain generation. Statistically, second marriages are less likely to last. Some say the third one is a charm. Be that as it may, don’t wallow in a failed marriage, learn from it and make your next relationship the romance of a lifetime. For more pick up a copy of, Learning From Divorce: How to Take Responsibility, Stop the Blame, and Move On by Robert LaCrosse and Christine A. Coates.