I was excited to write a post for my colleague, Allison Rimland, LPC, called Increasing Intimacy in Your Relationship: Take a Risk Today – It Will Be Worth It. The post was about improving your relationship with your partner by taking risks and sharing our authentic selves. Just a few days ago, I participated in a Webinar—Transformational Connections—hosted by Dr. Rebecca Jorgensen. Her guest speaker was Dr. John Amodeo, author of “Dancing with Fire: A Mindful Way to Loving Relationships”.
Dr. Amodeo enhanced my last post by explaining how mindfulness can help partners share with each other what they are experiencing and feeling in the moment. This, in turn, will improve your relationship. In his book, Dr. Amodeo drew upon the science of attachment theory (Emotionally Focused Couples therapy that I use with couples is also based on attachment theory). The foundation of attachment theory talks about the fact that we are wired for connection with other people, and we all suffer when we are disconnected with others and ourselves. As a consequence of the disconnection, people often start engaging in an array of habits or beliefs that further divert them from a deeper intimacy with life and with each other. Indeed, when I provide couples counseling, I see how addictions, affairs, intimacy problems, judgments, and more are couples’ ways of expressing disconnection—or their way of protesting against it. I want to share with you some of Dr. Amodeo’s ways of using mindfulness to improve your relationship:
- PRACTICE MINDFULNESS
When we practice the process of mindfulness, by meditating for example, we practice emotional and spiritual maturity. We are mindfully uncovering feelings (instead of pushing them down). Then, we are welcoming the feelings by letting them be (instead or ignoring them). Finally, we are letting feelings unfold, and we embrace these feelings (instead of trying to “fix” or “judge” them). For example, if, while meditating FEAR comes up in us, we want to practice noticing that fear. Instead of saying, “Go away fear, I don’t like how you feel in me,” we say, “Welcome fear, where did you come from? Where do I feel you in my body?”
That self-discovery is then helping us create a more organized understanding of our experiences. With that, we are more likely to share that understanding and that fear with our partners. What I see couples do; however, is that instead of sharing their fears, they blame, judge, or pick fights with one another. By doing so, they are avoiding the connection and creating more disconnection.
- CHOOSE WHAT YOU ATTACH TO
Dr. Amodeo beautifully described the importance of not being attached to things like judgments or criticism in order to be able to attach and be open to things like our longings and desires (often for connection and closeness with others). In my couples/marital counseling, we often learn how to acknowledge our longings and desires in a way that will pull our partner towards us, instead of going away from us.
- FIND LOVING KINDNESS TOWARDS YOURSELF
Mindfulness and/or meditation is a type of loving kindness practice towards yourself. The more loving kindness and grace you give yourself, the more you can extend that love towards your partner. Importantly, before you are able to give yourself loving kindness and grace, you must let yourself feel whatever you are feeling without judging it—just feel it, understand it, and embrace it (even if what you are feeling is unpleasant).
Once you get in touch with your experience, nurture it ask for more reassurance and comfort from your loved one. This time; however, you will be asking for your needs to get met from a loving and kind place instead of from the demanding and complaining place.
When you ask for your needs to be met from that place, your partner is more likely to respond. What is even more exiting is that when he responds to you and comforts you, that will make him feel valued and needed. In that way, you are extending your love towards others.
For all of the couples out there, practice recognizing your true feelings. Next time you feel something, pause, take a deep breath, and notice where you feel that feeling in your body, be curious about it, explore it and then SHARE it.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Marta Kem, LMFT provides Couples & Marital Therapy/ Counseling in the Denver and North Denver Metro Area (including but not limited to Northglenn, Westminster, Thornton, Lafayette, Louisville, Broomfield). Call Marta @ 303.898.6140 for a Free 30 min. Consultation!