How to listen and be truly present for your partner
I remember when I met my boyfriend and the reason why I knew he was right for me. When I was with him, I was completely in the present. It was effortless. I wasn’t stressing about work or money, or dwelling on the usual day-to-day nonsense.
Think back to when you were a kid, when you didn’t have a care in the world and the simplest things made you happy. That’s the feeling I have when I’m with him – a total escape from reality.
While I do feel content in my relationship most of the time, it’s not always rainbows and butterflies. Mindfulness is something I have to practice and work at every day.
Here are five simple mindfulness exercises you can try today to strengthen your relationship:
1. Put your phones away when you’re together.
How many times do you check your phone every day? Honestly, I don’t think it’s possible to keep track. I think most of us are plugged in 24/7 – compulsively checking our emails, social media notifications and the latest funny cat videos on YouTube (well, maybe that’s just me).
“Studies show that when two people are talking, the mere presence of a phone on a table between them or in the periphery of their vision changes both what they talk about and the degree of connection they feel,” according to The New York Times.
In other words, even if you aren’t on your phone, the fact that it’s near you can negatively impact your conversation and time spent together.
So when you get home, disconnect from your devices. Have dinner with your partner and talk to them about their day without any digital distractions. Be completely in the moment.
2. Really listen.
Being able to truly listen is a virtue. I admit it – during most conversations, my mind is usually 50 steps ahead. Or I’m thinking he looks really cute, and I can’t focus.
Many of us think we are listening when, in fact, we are too busy planning what to say next, anxiously awaiting our turn to speak.
Active listening “means adjusting our mindset and disconnecting from our gadgets. It means centering our attention instead of splitting it. It means trusting that we can get everything done – and done better – if we go about tasks sequentially rather than simultaneously,” Forbes reports.
Listening is the cornerstone of any successful relationship – whether with a family member, friend or significant other – because deep down we all want to be heard and understood.
3. Take a moment to reflect and appreciate when your significant other makes you feel good.
You know the moments I’m talking about – when he says something so funny you laugh until you cry, or he surprises you with a kiss on the cheek while he thinks you’re sleeping. You need to cherish those brief and beautiful moments, and be grateful while you are experiencing them.
4. Sit in silence comfortably together.
You don’t always need to fill the empty space with conversation. In fact, when you are truly comfortable with someone, you can sit without speaking for a few minutes and feel a special type of closeness. Comfortable silence is a sign of intimacy.
5. Respond, don’t react.
Many people don’t understand the difference between a response and a reaction.
A reaction is immediate and unconscious – it’s a defense mechanism and is often what causes us to experience regret later on. When we react emotionally during an argument, we aren’t taking into consideration the consequences of what we are saying.
A response, however, is conscious. It involves processing the information and coming up with a thoughtful answer. When you come up with a response, you have thought about the long-term effects and how it will influence those around you.
So, rather than react emotionally in the heat of the moment, stop, take a deep breath and respond in a calm, rational way.
Are you ready to be more mindful in your relationship? Try these techniques and let me know how they work for you!