What if the way you communicated with your spouse or significant other directly affected their health and well-being.  Are you communicating mindfully?

My husband was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease over twelve years ago at the age of 21.  Crohn's disease is an inflammatory bowel disease which causes inflammation of the lining of your digestive tract and although stress doesn’t cause Crohn’s it does however make symptoms worse and may trigger flare-ups.
Now let’s break down what exactly that means for both my husband and I, and our marriage as a whole.  Simply put, stress makes my husband sick, very sick, hospital sick, and in order to cope with this we have had to learn different techniques to not only deal with stress but more importantly avoid stress all together.

 The most effective technique that we have implemented into our lives is Mindful Communication.  Mindful communication means to listen and speak with compassion, kindness and awareness.  In order to engage in effective communication using mindfulness, we have to listen mindfully and speak mindfully.  Easy enough, right?   Here are some tips to help.

Cultivating Mindful Listening

1)      One Focus

Clear your head of any thoughts that are occupying your mind.  Clear your hands of any devices that are occupying your fingers.  Don’t look at your feet or a spot on the wall.  When someone is talking to you, look into their eyes.  It shows that you care about them and that they have your 100% attention.

2)      Don’t Assume

We all know the saying about assuming, so just don’t do it.  If the person says something that you don’t understand and you need clarification, don’t assume but rather ask them to clarify their statement.  Just be sure to come from a place of compassion. 

Cultivating Mindful Speech

1)      Pause, Breathe and Respond

When responding to either a question or comment, don’t just immediately start talking.  Pause, breathe and then respond.  Be LESS reactive and MORE responsive.  It’s amazing what this one little technique can do!

2)       Be Honest

The best thing you can do for yourself is to be yourself.  That means speaking your truth.  This doesn’t mean that you have to be mean or rude.  You can speak your truth with compassion and kindness. 

Cultivating a Mindful Relationship

1)      Lose the Ego

This isn’t a competition or a battle to be won.  This is your significant other and although you may not see eye to eye right now, ultimately the end goal is the same.

2)      Be Gracious and Grateful

Too often we focus on the negative.  You love this person; seek out the good in them and in the relationship that you’ve built together.  Seek it out, write it down and TELL them, over and over again.  Gratitude can cultivate some pretty amazing things.

My husband and I quickly learnt about the importance of 'picking our battles'; pick the wrong battle and communicate it poorly and you'll hear his gut grumble from across the room.  The physical effects of stress on my husband's body are immediate and severe.  But Crohn's or not, stress that's left unchecked can contribute to long term health problems, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, diabetes and short term problems such as headaches, insomnia, and indigestion.

So let me ask you again, knowing now that the way you communicate with your spouse or significant other directly affects their health and well-being, are you communicating mindfully?