Some might say the most important factors in a healthy relationship are honesty and trust, but I’d challenge that and say the two most important habits in a healthy relationship are mindfulness and communication. Mindfulness, put very simply, is paying attention. This can be paying attention to yourself and your own needs, thoughts, feelings, wants. And it can be paying attention to others, their needs, thoughts, feelings, desires.
One key part of mindfulness, paying attention to where people are coming from in their actions, is giving grace in those actions. We have this awful habit of distracting ourselves and repressing emotions instead of taking the time and effort to process them. Ignoring our needs and emotions leads us into the spiral of anxiety, burnout and depression.
When you ignore the whispers of your body and spirit, they become screams. Just like when your kids don’t listen the first 50 times you ask them to do something, so you say it a little bit louder and they don’t understand why you’re “being so mean.” It’s the same thing with our own needs.
There’s a lot of great guided mindfulness meditations to help build the skills of listening to your mind, body and spirit. Journaling is another great exercise for this. Check in with your three selves – body, mind, spirit – and think about how you’re really feeling in each area. Brainstorm why you’re feeling these ways and how you could fix what’s not working for you anymore. Pray for guidance from God, Spirit, or Source. But remember, your steps can only be guided if you’re willing to move.
The second part of this is communication. Now that you understand what’s going on inside you, it’s your responsibility to explain your behavior to those around you. Let your kids know when you’re not having a good day, show them how you take time for yourself to heal. This shows them how to do that for themselves too.
I’ve seen the greatest impact in my marriage from communicating EVERYTHING with my husband. There’s so many things I didn’t think my husband would really care about or understand, or I didn’t take the time to understand either, but when I started to explain my thoughts and feelings, my behaviors made more sense. Opening up in vulnerability to let my husband into what’s really happening in my brain has been the single best thing for our marriage. It’s brought us closer together and helped us to spiritually grow together.
If you deny intimacy (either spiritual or physical) with your husband and provide no explanation, your partner is likely to blame themselves for your lack of interest. People internalize things and blame themselves when there’s no other explanation. Don’t be afraid to admit you’re stressed out about a tv show, or gassy, or whatever it is that’s got you feeling in a funk. Don’t hide the purest parts of you from your love.
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