It’s not difficult to see that having the qualities that mindfulness encourages within a relationship of any kind can only enhance it. Mindfulness encourages less judging, more attentiveness, more compassion and more empathy to name a few. When it comes to romantic relationships new research is starting to show that higher levels of mindfulness can lead to more satisfying and happier relationships. Practicing Mindfulness over a period of time creates changes within the brain that makes us better relationship partners.
Inside the brain, the amygdala is the brains threat detection centre and is responsible for the flight or fight response. Also inside the brain is the prefrontal-cortex which is responsible for calming us down from anger or fear and stopping us from getting into negative thought patterns that spiral out of control. Mindfulness practice is shown to reduce the size of the amygdala, thus reducing the sensitivity of the fight or flight response. It is also shown that mindfulness practice strengthens the prefrontal-cortex keeping us more in control. These two factors help us to be more aware in a disagreement or an argument of what is helpful and not helpful at that point.
Furthermore, mindfulness practice is also shown to strengthen the anterior cingulate cortex inside the brain which is associated with self-perception, regulation of emotions, attention and impulses. This part of the brain is also related to how well you can see problems from another perspective and helps you adapt to more flexible views of you and your partner.
Many of us bring emotional traumas from our pasts and vulnerabilities to relationships which can cause us to get stuck into negative patterns and repeat behaviors relationship after relationship. Romantic relationships are especially good at exposing vulnerabilities and distrust. Mindfulness practice helps us to be calmer, be more adaptable and view the moments in the relationship for what they actually are. Mindfulness allows us to better understand what feelings and issues are related to the actual relationship and which are caused by outside influences, such as work related stress, family issues, etc.
Staying with the science for a bit longer. Mindfulness practice helps create positive changes in the insula area of the brain which is responsible for emotional awareness and empathy. The better your insula functions the better you will be at understanding your own feelings and relating to your partner’s feelings.
Mindfulness helps us focus on being more open and accepting of our partner and their flaws. If we find ourselves focusing too much on their flaws we can chose to focus on their more positive attributes instead. We better understand that our partners behaviour may be less based upon us and more based upon the previous life experiences and traumas making us more forgiving and helping improve emotional intimacy and a stronger connection between you both.
So one of the main benefits of your mindfulness practice could be that it just improves and makes you happier in your romantic relationship. If you both start practicing mindfulness regularly then things can only improve from where you are now for both of you.