6 Tips For A More Compassionate Relationship

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older couple embracing
How to practice compassion, a key element to the health and happiness of your relationship.

A recent New York Times feature "Is Marriage Good For Your Health?" reports on a study that shows the presence of at least one loving, compassionate word or phrase during an argument between a couple can lower a woman's risk of heart disease. Women in arguments where endearment is lacking are at greater risk of developing the disease, regardless of the subject or intensity of the fight.

In relationships, compassion can often take a back seat. Life is busy. We stop making the effort to be in his shoes or to see his point of view when it's one we disagree with, or worse, one we believe is intended to or is actually hurting us. Especially in the midst of disagreements, taking a moment to pause, taking ourselves out of the equation and attempting to see a partner's POV can be crucial.

Like any behavior, reprogramming ourselves to listen and breathe instead of lash out, takes practice.

Here are 6 ways to practice increased compassion in your relationships:

1.  Stop thinking so much about yourself. This sounds harsh, I know, but there's an ancient Indian saying that the total amount of unhappiness in the world comes from thinking about ourselves and the total amount of happiness in the world comes from thinking about other people. It's the reason we get so excited, as adults, to give rather than receive. It's also the reason we want to see our children do better than we have, and why cultivating love and compassion for a partner feels so great in the first place. 4 Ways To Improve Your Relationship Karma

2.  Be aware. Your partner fails to compliment you on the meal you spent hours preparing. Emotions get carried away so quickly. Suddenly, any logical or reasonable alternative except for "he does not and will not ever understand me" or "this is another sign of how selfish she is" has no chance of winning out in our minds. Reflect on some of your past arguments. Are there any hostile engagements or hasty conclusions you'd redo if you could? Use them to help you monitor the ways the mind can quickly jump from A to Z. Be an insider. Get the YourTango newsletter. Delivered daily.

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