Couples Who Do These 7 Things Together Have The Healthiest, Most Fulfilling Relationships

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How To Have A Healthy Relationship By Practicing These Mindfulness Exercises Together
Love, Self

Often, people ask if I can help them with learning how to have a healthy relationship. I started thinking about this request and what it really means to deliver the proper relationship advice for it.

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What are the elements of a healthy relationship, exactly?

Two of my colleagues in Interpersonal Neurobiology, David Rock and Daniel Siegel, developed a model called The Healthy Mind Platter.

They outlined 7 daily mindfulness exercises that they think are essential in creating well-being and mental health.

1. Focus time

We live in the age of digital distraction. Are you ever guilty of looking down at your phone instead of into your partner’s eyes when they’re speaking?

Focus allows a couple to be really present, at the moment, and this translates to care and love for each other.

We all want to know that we’re important and that we matter. Focusing on each other sends that message.

2. Playtime

Do you play with your partner? Setting down the to-do list, turning off the computer, and allowing ourselves to be spontaneous or creative goes a long way in creating a healthy balance in life.

In a relationship, playing together — whether it’s a board game or a game of kickball — makes new connections in the brain and to each other.

Research has shown that playfully enjoying novel experiences even keeps our sexual attraction alive.

3. Connecting time

When we connect, truly connect, with each other, we reinforce our enjoyment in the relationship. Being physically present — whether you're talking, cooking, or folding laundry — activates and reinforces the brain’s relational circuitry.

This builds a type of safety with one another and allows us to relax and experience joy.

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4. Physical time

When we move our bodies, we strengthen our brains, our hearts, and our happiness.

So, get off the sofa and go for a walk, dance, or get aerobic in bed together. A daily dose of physical activity is a recipe for physical, mental, emotional, and relational health.

5. Time in

There is also great benefit from taking some time to sit still and reflect internally. Some couples sit quietly next to each other in meditation, silence, or prayer.

Remember to focus on sensations, images, feelings, and thoughts. Perhaps you’ll want to open up and share some of this internal wandering with your partner.

Be sure to listen deeply, with curiosity and no judgment. This is the very essence of emotional intimacy.

6. Downtime

It’s okay to binge-watch mindless TV once in a while, too. Sometimes, our brains just need to relax.

When we are non-focused, without any specific goal, we boost relaxation. This is how we recharge. Hanging out, doing nothing, is one of my favorite ways to spend time with my husband.

7. Sleep time

Healthy adults sleep an average of 6-8 hours per night. Have you ever found yourself cranky with your partner’s behavior when the real culprit is that you’re exhausted and sleep-deprived?

We need to sleep to consolidate learning and to recover from the experiences of the day. Cuddling together at night while sleeping is one of life’s greatest joys.

Make your bedroom your relationship sanctuary: clean, neat, beautiful. Install soft lighting, music, fluffy pillows. Keep it free of distractions like computers, TVs, and telephones.

Practicing these seven tools will not only lead to a well-integrated and healthy mind, but also to a stronger, healthier relationship.

Try to incorporate all of these into your daily life and start noticing if the healthy relationship you ordered is being delivered.

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​Mary Kay Cocharo is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in private practice in West Los Angeles, California. For more information, visit her website.

This article was originally published at Mary Kay Cocharo, LMFT. Reprinted with permission from the author.

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