By: Lauren Salani, LCSW, BCB
It is well-established that mindfulness traits have enhanced individual well-being, functioning, and has reduced individual stress. Researchers are now applying mindfulness traits for use in creating and maintaining success in romantic relationships. Marriage and family therapists have traditionally used the personality factors of neuroticism or emotionality, extraversion, openness, agreeableness, conscientiousness, honesty, and humility to work with couples for better more satisfying relationships. A new study proposes that couples with high mindfulness skills have a tendency for better psychological health and more romantic marriages.
Mindfulness can be a practice, a process, or a trait. It can be formal, as in meditation or informal, as a way of being – having the capacity for moment-by-moment awareness. This is a skill that is part of our birthright, a skill that has been lost to us in our speedy, fast paced, 21-century living. Mindfulness is comprised of twelve aspects. The first eight determine how one deals with and evaluates their own thoughts and emotions: 1) observing, 2) acting with awareness, 3) non-judging, 4) non-reacting 5) insightful understanding, 6) describing, 7) considering relativity, and 8) being open. The four other aspects can be summarized as pro-social tendencies: 9) being loving and kind, 10) being compassionate, 11) showing empathic joy, and 12) behaving ethically. Increasing these traits, valued for thousands of years, for use in modern life offers a protective role for well-being within ourselves and between others.
For romance to thrive, there must be a mutual understanding of what we each mean, feel, need, and want. However, communication between partners in not always straight forward. Whether you are trying to tell them you don’t appreciate the way they do things or that you want them to do things your way, things can be misconstrued.
A recent study published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships suggests that using mindfulness traits in a romantic relationship can reduce conflict frequency and aid in mutual understanding. When both women and men in marital relationships felt lonely, they tended to judge their spouse’s actions in a more negative manner. These blaming actions tended to heighten conflict. In summary, this study found that when a woman has high mindfulness skills, her partner tended to feel less lonely and therefore there was less likely to be conflict due to blaming behaviors.
This research is a beginning in the exploration of the factors that link mindfulness traits and more satisfying relationships. This study does have its limitations. It does not recognize alternative relationships and the researchers cannot make claims regarding relationship mindfulness causing a decrease in conflicts, just tendencies. There are also questions regarding how men could better use relational mindfulness to better contribute to the romance in their marriages.
Even if this study only points to tendencies for mindfulness traits to affect romantic relationships, these traits seem to be important factors underlying the communication process. It would make sense to find ways of learning the skills on your own and discovering ways to be more mindful with your partner.
Mindfulness Biofeedback instructs individuals how to self-regulate with the aid of computerized information on how one’s body and mind is responding in the moment. Learning to become aware of how you are responding in the moment, with self-compassion, non-judgment, non-reactivity, openness, and insightfulness to yourself may be a good place to start in working on your relationship. If you are interested in individual mindfulness biofeedback therapy in a warm, comfortable setting, please call my office at 732.542.2638.
Lauren A. Salani, LCSW, BCB, Stress Relief Services, Atlantic Executive Center, 107 Monmouth Road, Suite 104, West Long Branch, NJ 07764, 732.542.2638, Website: StressReliefServices.com, LaurenASalani@gmail.com.