Mindfulness in relationships: How to keep love fresh

Love gets lost in the daily grind? You live as a couple only side by side, but no longer with each other? That doesn't have to be the case. The solution is lived mindfulness in a relationship - and this is how it works.

Mavie editorial team09/12/2022

Mindfulness in relationships

Anyone who is in a relationship is familiar with this: Despite love and respect, things sometimes get out of hand or paralyzing habits set in. One begins to recognize entrenched patterns of behavior in the other person, feels misunderstood, overburdened or insufficiently supported in the relationship. A German couple therapist, marriage counsellor and author Hans Jellouschek sees the solution to these problems in "lived mindfulness". Mindfulness here means being in the present moment - without judging. In his book "Achtsamkeit in der Partnerschaft: Was dem Zusammenleben Tiefe gibt" (Herder Spektrum-Verlag, 2018), Jellouschek provides tips on how to live your own needs and also recognize those of your partner - because only this interplay keeps a relationship alive and your love fresh.

Mindful relationship needs new perspectives

One of the most important points for author Hans Jellouschek is to show curiosity and interest in the partner, for instance by trying to take a different perspective. You can ask yourself: Why is a conflict in the relationship escalating right now? Can I put myself in my partner's shoes? What feelings, thoughts, sensations and impulses for action have led to the dispute - on both sides? What options do I or we have to prevent the dispute from degenerating?

Do not react immediately, but recognize conflict patterns first

Those who take the liberty in dispute and conflict situations not to always react immediately, but to briefly consider the next step, are given more options for action - and the opportunity to prevent emotional injuries. Here are some helpful questions to ask: What conflict patterns underlie our disagreement as a couple? Common conflict themes in relationships are, for example, "dependence versus autonomy." On the one hand, one seeks attachment, but also independence, and it is precisely this autonomy that frightens many. Providing versus being provided for" and "distance versus closeness" are also frequent causes of conflict. Those who become aware of their own conflict patterns can act with more distance and thus get out of the usual conflict structures.

Mindfulness for life situations

Vibrant couple relationships need benevolent understanding of each other - and of themselves. We all bring a variety of experiences, beliefs, values, and ideals with ourselves - and we should regularly become aware of them. You can ask yourself, for example, "What life situation is my partner in right now?" This is not just about looking at the little things in everyday life (Has today been stressful for the other person? Have the children been particularly moody? Is there perhaps a project at work that is stressing this person out?) One should always also look at the entire life situation with which we enter into a relationship. What is the family of origin like? Are there sore points or hurts of one's inner child? What experiences did one bring from previous relationships? Are there situations or even certain stimulus words that trigger something specific in the other person?

Mindfulness for the positive situations in a relationship

Also important: directing attention to the positive situations in the relationship. Far too often we focus on what doesn't fit or should be different. And in the process, we lose sight of what works well and what we feel comfortable with. Questions like these can help: What do I like about my partner and when was the last time I complimented him/her or expressed gratitude? Where and when did we have a really good time together as a couple? Are there photos of these that we can look at together to rekindle the good feelings?

Living relationship rituals conciously

Strengthening a relationship with mindfulness also means taking a critical look at certain habits. For example, the fleeting greeting kiss in the evening can be transformed into a sincere and honest kiss. Instead of "How was your day?", you can think about specific questions to learn more about what the other person has experienced. New, shared rituals in everyday life also bring more mindfulness to the relationship and keep love fresh. For example, one joint evening per month is organized firstly by one partner, the next time by the other one, and so on.

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