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.

Opposites Attract, but Should They Marry?

opposites-attract

Opposites Attract, but Should They Marry?

Traditional advice is that one should marry someone whom they have many things in common with. Common interests, norms, morals, hobbies and a similar view of the world are thought to help keep harmony and balance throughout the course of a marriage. One blogger however is advising her readers do the exact opposite. Kara Storey in her newest blog post The Perks of Marrying Your Opposite explains that since she and her spouse are nothing alike, their marriage is an adventure and a process of discovery. She is always learning something new as time unfolds. Storey says her marriage prods her into trying things she would have never considered before, and how this fosters personal growth, and keeps things engaging. So the old idea that opposites attract but shouldn’t marry seems a little far-fetched, at least in her case. In fact, many psychologists suggest that this type of marriage can be healthy and beneficial for both partners. The most important thing to find out is whether or not your personalities are compatible or incompatible. If you complement one another, you will enjoy your marriage. This can be one of the most satisfying of relationships, offering two aspects that each person craves; safety and novelty, or nuance.  A balance should be struck within the marriage between comfort and learning something new, thereby keeping the spark alive.

The most important parts are sincerity and communication. It used to be, since courtship in the Revolutionary period, that couples were instructed to be completely honest with one another. Noted historian Ellen Rothman says, “For both men and women, the best defense against deception was openness. After the turn of the [nineteenth] century, openness became almost an obsession for courting couples. In the nineteenth century, it was no longer enough to be sincere in one’s affections; lovers were urged to be frank and open about everything.” Certainly lots of things have changed since then. But we could all use a bit more candor in the dating scene. Men for instance today are socialized to believe that sex with anyone that will preserve or elevate their social status is the end goal. This can lead to all kinds of dishonest methods, poor relationship choices and other negative consequences. Meanwhile, many women are socialized to “put on their best face” and not let the man know exactly who she is, specifically what her shortfalls might be, until after marriage, cohabitation or whatever commitment style she is longing for. The irony in all of this is deception undermines love, but they are using deception to try and get it. Love is intimacy which cannot be had without mutual respect, openness and honesty. Yet these false stances threaten to undermine the very intimacy lovers seek to establish.

Being honest is one part but not judging others too harshly is another important element. People could go out and just be themselves, not try to put on their best face. They would also be upfront on what kind of relationship they were looking for, or open to, without fear of ridicule or rejection. The trouble is compatibility is complex. It’s difficult to know when it will inhabit a relationship. There is no test to see if two people will be good together for the long haul. Just when you think you understand it, a happy older couple will throw you for a loop and you are back to square one. Moreover, how two people interact changes over time. The two may be compatible now, but will they be in five, ten or twenty years? When you date someone, and marriage or a serious commitment is your goal, what do you look at? The best you can really do is keep your evaluation process streamlined and accurate. What do you look at when you are searching for someone to date seriously, and perhaps marry? Do you look at how the two of you interact, if you laugh and enjoy each other’s company? If it is only how you feel about them or when you are with them, realize that the fluttering of the heart like a hummingbird sooner or later fades. What‘s left is two people who hopefully like each other and can get along. Too many think that the honeymoon phase will last forever. It really can but not in the same way. That initial giddiness will be gone, but so will the monumental fear, a part which everyone forgets. But you can have a deep, abiding love and fondness for one another for the rest of your lives. If you are happy together, supportive of one another, and can work out problems as a team, you just might be the right fit. Whether you are the same or complimentary is really irrelevant. What truly matters is how you interact. If you are still wondering if the one you are dating is right for you pick up a copy of, Before You Save the Date: 21 Questions to Help You Marry with Confidence by Dr. Paul Friesen.

Telling your Ex you’re Pregnant with his Child

Early-Pregnancy

Telling your Ex you’re Pregnant with his Child

It’s frightening when you find out that you’re pregnant when you’ve already broken up with your ex. You could feel abandoned and all alone when you need help most. How can you break the news to him now? How will he take it? Telling your ex you’re pregnant with his child isn’t easy, but it has to be done. He is the father and has the right to know. What’s more, this will change the dynamic of your relationship forever. There are a few things you should keep in mind at this tenuous time. First, don’t blame him. When pregnancy is unexpected tension is high. Sometimes we look for someone to blame to help cope with and assuage these feelings that we are having. Remember that two people are required for pregnancy to occur. So if you are going to point the finger realize that it can just as easily be pointed at you. Realize that this is a serious situation. Oftentimes exes are an ex for a serious reason. Was it something that can be overcome or was it unforgivable? Whether he cheated, stole, lied or what have you, this isn’t the time to bring it up. Avoid throwing past mistakes in his face. It’ll only make matters worse. What’s important now is how you two are going to interact in the future for the sake of this child.

Don’t hide this child from the father. Not only is it not fair to the father it isn’t fair to the child either. Most men, if given the choice, choose to be in a child’s life. More often than not then you are robbing the child of their father. If and when they find out, either party may never forgive you. If you are still in contact with this person, do not break the news during an argument. Instead, try to have it during a calm situation when there is plenty of time to talk about it and no distractions. Face to face is certainly the best way to go about it. You don’t want him to associate this pivotal moment with any negativity. Give him time to accept the fact that you are pregnant. Sometimes when a pregnancy isn’t planned, one or both parties have a difficult time accepting it. It’s actually normal. People need time to come to understand and accept such a weighty matter. If he is not overjoyed immediately, don’t get upset with him. It can be a big shock. By the time the baby is about to arrive however, both you and he should be accepting of the pregnancy. Think about what your ex might say when he hears. Will he suggest reconciling for the sake of the child? Or will he be afraid he can’t afford a child and worry about the expense? Just take it one day at a time and see what is best for the sake of the child. For advice on co-parenting once the child is born read, Families Apart: Ten Keys to Successful Co-Parenting by Melinda Blau.

The Key to a Lasting Marriage

inbed

The Key to a Lasting Marriage

When you look at another couple, how do you evaluate them? Can you tell how they feel about each other, the level of respect they have, their friendship and how deep their bond goes? If you have a pretty good pulse on how people jive, next consider your own relationship. When out to dinner do you sit there quietly, are you constantly on your phone or are you two engaged in conversation, focusing only on each other? If you answered one of the first two this is a warning sign that your relationship is in trouble. If you answered the last one, your relationship is where it should be. The two should be reconnecting all of the time. You should be finding excitement, joy and feel a deep warmth when around one another. The truth is after that initial honeymoon phase wears off you have to work a little harder to reconnect. But there is also something deep and profound in a relationship where you’ve been together a long time, a comfort that cannot stand against puppy love. The key to a lasting marriage is friendship. Find ways to have fun together. What interests or hobbies do you share? Another thing you can do is try new things you’ve always wanted to try together. Make a list together and cross them off as you go through. Here are some other ideas on how to infuse your marriage or relationship with a deep, loving, profound friendship.

When you interact with your partner, be mindful of your tone. Are you communicating to your partner how much they mean to you? Does the attitude you approach the relationship with reflect the kind of relationship you want? If not, start incorporating the right tone and attitude into it and see if it comes back to you. It’s all in your approach. People react to the attitude you give them. So if you approach the relationship with a sweet, loving and lighthearted attitude that is generally what you should receive in return. Are you more critical of your spouse or lover than you need to be? Do you treat them worse than your friends? If this is the care, or the case of your partner sit down and think about it. Approach your partner with your concerns. Describe the phenomenon you are seeing and ways to fix it. For every criticism you have for your partner find two nice things to say. Use a strategy corporate trainers called “sandwiching.” Sandwich a negative comment between two positive ones. It takes the sting out. “I really loved the dinner you made. Could you use a little less pepper next time? But I loved the sauce!” Be patient with your partner and expect them to be patient with you. Find times to laugh and have fun together. Reminisce. Go through old photo albums and talk about old times together. Try to incorporate how you would treat a friend with how you treat your partner, only with more love, warmth and understanding. Expect the same from them in return. For more on this topic, read Hidden Keys of a Loving, Lasting Marriage by Gary Smalley.

Getting Different Dating Styles to Mesh

COUPLE-ON-DATE

Getting Different Dating Styles to Mesh

Not everyone dates in the same way. But what happens when his style and hers are completely different? Here are some ideas on getting your different dating styles to mesh. If one person rather hang out in a big group of friends while the other sees a date only in terms of one-on-one, you’ve got a problem. Both sexes might misinterpret this situation. The guy may feel like she’s being too controlling while the girl sees it as a chance for the guy to avoid intimacy. Instead, talk about it. Accentuate the positive. Think of a reason why you want to hang in a group or alone that surprises the other person. Perhaps you want to get to know different sides of their personality not available around friends, or you want your date to see how you interact with friends and get a sense of how your social life works and how they fit in. Why not trade one date alone and the next with friends, viola problem solved. Does one of you plan dates a week ahead while the other plays it by ear? Of course we all have a busy schedule, and respect for each other’s time is important, but spontaneity can also breathe life into a relationship. Try to compromise; the dates themselves can be arranged while the activity can be open to spontaneity, at least sometimes.

Many times couples have trouble over the guy wanting to keep things casual while the lady desires an air of romance. Going to bars and clubs, concerts and sporting events all the time can make your special lady feel more like a friend than a girlfriend. Instead, why not romance her from time to time? Or do little romantic gestures at the normal venues you go to. Like go to a nice dinner after a concert, or before. Sometimes frequency is the issue, one person wants to spend most of the week together while the other one only wants to spend time together a couple of times a week. Why not compromise and have three dates in a week? Call or video chat more often. You can even have a work date, study date or the like where you are doing other things but spending time together. What about a breakfast or lunch date? There are lots of ways to compromise on that one. What about if one person likes to spend all their time at home, while the other just loves to go out? Why not spend one date at home, the next at a venue? Choose a local tavern or coffee house that has a homey feel. This way one person can relax while the other can mingle, people watch or what-have-you.  For more advice, read Opposites Attract: How to Use the Secrets of the Personality Type to Create a Love that Lasts by Renee Baron.