How Being Mindful Can Bring You Closer to Your Partner

Although we humans like to believe that we make decisions consciously as we go through our day, in fact many of our waking hours are spent on autopilot. Driving a car is the perfect example. Do you remember how terrifying it was the first time behind the wheel, when you had to deliberately think about every action you performed? Now you drive on autopilot, able to sing along to the radio or chat with a passenger, with nary a conscious thought of how you’re navigating half a ton of steel and glass through a stream of other cars racing at breakneck speed.

Automatic processing makes our lives better, because we don’t have to devote valuable mental resources to completing mundane tasks. Even when it comes to our intimate relationships, we often navigate on autopilot, but the outcomes can be disastrous when we do. All too often, deeply ingrained patterns of behavior drive us towards actions that only make the situation worse when we encounter the inevitable conflict with our partners.

In recent years, many psychologists have been advocating for mindfulness training in couple’s therapy. Plenty of research has shown that when individuals adopt a mindful approach to their interactions with their partners, they also experience improvements in their relationship quality and sexual satisfaction. But how does the mindful approach of one partner affect the other partner’s satisfaction with their relationship and sex life? This is the question that Auburn University psychologist Julianne McGill and colleagues explored in a study recently published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships.

Mindfulness is a complex concept that includes a number of facets. Of particular interest in this study were two of these—non-reactivity to inner experience and acting with awareness.

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