How Meditation Affects Relationships
When your relationships with those closest to you aren’t all you would like them to be, take this as an invitation to stop and have a good hard look at your own thoughts and attitude.
Do you often feel stressed, anxious, or negative? Do you struggle with feelings of low self-worth? Are you quick to criticize others? All of these automatic responses can have a profound effect on our ability to enjoy a strong, loving relationship.
While it may seem counterintuitive, spending time alone meditation for marriage could be the missing key to a more positive relationship with your significant other. Research shows that meditation can offer benefits ranging from reduced anxiety and stress to increased happiness and kindness—all of which could be helpful in transforming your relationship with your spouse.
What do we mean by “Meditation?”
When we talk about “meditation”, we are talking about a broad range of practices and traditions that help you to discipline your mind—not just those from the East or from specific religions. At its essence, meditation involves putting aside a block of dedicated time (this can be as little as a few minutes a day) to focus your thoughts and attention on specific words, phrases, ideas, or images.
As distractions enter your consciousness and your mind starts to wander, gently bring your thoughts back to your subject of meditation until the session is finished.
It can be hard work at first, but learning to manage and discipline your thoughts has benefits that extend far beyond your meditation time to affect the way you feel and respond throughout the day. Daily meditation for couples can be extremely beneficial to a relationship.
Let’s take a look at each of the main marriage mediation benefits and ways meditation improves relationships-
1. Meditation can improve your self-esteem
Having healthy self-esteem can actually have an enormous impact on our relationships. People who value, love, and like themselves are more likely to choose a similarly positive and emotionally-healthy mate, potentially avoiding the many traps of codependency.
In a codependent relationship, one partner seeks constant validation from the other, who typically relies on them to meet their daily needs due to an illness, disability, or addiction. With healthy self-esteem, you don’t need constant validation from others and are able to enter into healthy, interdependent relationships instead.
How does meditation increase self-esteem? Guided meditation for couples helps them to identify harmful or self-defeating thought patterns, meditation can help them to learn more resilient and adaptive ways of thinking, creative problem solving, and even feel less lonely.
A person who feels complete all by themseleves is likely to stay in a relationship because they want to, not because they feel they have to.
That is a much stronger base for open and honest communication!
2. Meditation can make you feel happier
Feeling down, negative, or even depressed can take a toll on your marriage. Whether conflict in the marriage is causing the depression or depression is causing the conflict, feeling down, in general, can cause you to view your interactions with your spouse in a negative light. It can also cause you to respond to your partner pessimistically based on these perceptions, further contributing to a sour mood between the two of you and reducing your marital satisfaction.
Meditation can help to turn this cycle around by lifting your mood and helping you to focus on the positive aspects of your relationship.
A study on mindfulness meditation conducted over an 8-week period showed that people who meditated had greater electrical brain activity in the area associated with a positive mood when compared to non-meditators. Similarly, a systematic review of Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy studies showed “moderate to large reductions in depressive symptoms […] relative to control groups.”
By cultivating a more optimistic outlook on life as well as your relationship, meditation has great potential for improving the tone of your interactions with your significant other. It is just one of the ways a meditating brain creates better relationships.
3. Meditation can reduce stress and anxiety
Stress is another factor that can lower the quality of a relationship. Partners who are stressed tend to be more distracted and withdrawn, less affectionate, and have less patience for their spouse and their mistakes. Ironically, stress can also bring out the worst in your partner, as large amounts of reflected stress may cause the other person to also withdraw from the relationship.
A 2004 study found that stress had a negative influence on spouses’ perceptions of their marital lives as well as affecting their interpretations and processing of those perceptions.
Similar to the dynamic seen with depression in a marriage, stress in this case (and related experiences of anxiety) was seen as contributing to partners’ negative perceptions of their marital quality.
How meditation could help
Can meditation help to decrease stress and anxiety? A number of studies indicate that it can. A meta-analysis of 600 research papers on transcendental meditation showed that the subjects who had the highest levels of anxiety when initiating a meditation practice experienced the greatest reduction in anxiety later on.
When compared to the control groups, subjects who suffered from stress and anxiety experienced notable reductions in their anxiety levels after two weeks and enjoyed sustained results after three years.
By reducing your levels of stress and anxiety, it can become easier to attend to your spouse’s needs as well as your own, be more affectionate with your spouse, and demonstrate a more patient attitude. These are all great ways to improve your relationship!
Meditation can increase kindness and empathy
As the years pass by and your wedding photos fade into a dim memory, it is easy to lose some of the spark you once had and get annoyed with your spouse over little things that never would have bothered you before.
As it turns out, meditating could actually help you to be a kinder and more compassionate spouse.
A kind of meditation known as Metta (or loving-kindness meditation) teaches you to cultivate kind and loving thoughts and feelings—first toward yourself.
These thoughts of kindness and forgiveness are then extended to loved ones and eventually to acquaintances and even enemies.
Twenty-two studies were conducted to assess the effectiveness of loving-kindness meditation on subjects’ health and wellbeing, with interesting results. Through a systematic review, it was observed that the more time that was invested in this practice, the greater the positive emotions that were experienced by participants toward themselves and others when compared to the control group. Feeling more compassionate toward your spouse could go a long way toward rekindling the love and intimacy that you felt at the start!
Beginning a meditation practice
With so many potential benefits for your marriage with such low cost to you, meditation is definitely worth a try. After all, who wouldn’t like to be a more happy, patient, and loving spouse?
While mindfulness meditation, transcendental meditation, and loving-kindness meditation have been mentioned in studies here, there are many different kinds of meditation available. Finding a practice that works for you is a matter of finding the one that suits your personality, beliefs, and goals. You can read more about different kinds of meditation in books and online, or consider using a meditation app that tailors a meditation program to your individual needs and interests.
You could even enjoy the benefits of meditation as a family by cultivating mindfulness in your daily activities and teaching your children how to meditate. Children, teens, and adults who live in the moment and know how to manage their emotions make the home much more peaceful and productive for everyone!
Want to have a happier, healthier marriage?
If you feel disconnected or frustrated about the state of your marriage but want to avoid separation and/or divorce, the marriage.com course meant for married couples is an excellent resource to help you overcome the most challenging aspects of being married.