There are insurmountable mountains of crud that can be dumped on you while experiencing the aftershocks of divorce. But as in all things, we have to know the bad to welcome the good. I derived a “clean-slate” feeling post-divorce, and it has served me well. The chance to work on me and then take all that I have learned and continue to learn and put it into practice in a relationship has been one of the most gratifying and rewarding experiences I believe I will ever have the pleasure to undergo in this life.
One of the first promises I made to myself before choosing to date after my divorce was that I would choose to be intentional in the way I chose to experience any relationship I was in. I’m delighted to say that is a promise I have kept to myself, and the benefits are immeasurable.
I did quite a bit of online dating when I set out into the dating world. My profile bio said something like this.
“Hi! I’m Dani. My daily life looks like running my business and being a mom to three young kids. That means intense wrestling matches happen daily around our house, so that’s something you’ll need to be ok with! I’m looking for someone who wakes up every morning and intentionally chooses my kids and me.”
I knew after feeling like a backseat-afterthought in my first marriage that I wanted to be with someone who intentionally chose me each day. And I knew that I wanted to do better at intentionally choosing my companion, too.
Choosing Mindfulness Over Mindlessness
I’ve been with my partner for a little over a year and a half. I know, I know …. those of you who have been together for years or decades will probably grin and think something along the lines of “you’re in the honeymoon phase still!” I get it. I was married for almost twelve years, so I’m not naïve about how relationships can evolve over time.
Here’s the best part of that though. As part of my commitment to myself to be intentional in my relationship, I’ve been conscious of treating each day the same. Do you get what that means?!
For me, it means that EVERY DAY with my partner can be the most EXCEPTIONAL day together.
You think I’m exaggerating?! I’m not. That doesn’t mean that every day IS, because sometimes we aren’t as great with how intentional we are. But I’m not kidding when I say 98% of my days with him are better than I can even fathom. It’s surreal to me how often I find myself in awe that this is the life I’m living.
What Being Intentional in My Relationship Means to Me
So what does being intentional in a relationship mean? And how has being intentional elevated my ability to love? I’m no love expert – but I’d love to share with you what is working for me! When I say intentional, that specific word can usually be replaced with being mindful. Mindfulness is really the practice at play here. Here’s how being mindful in my relationship with my partner looks like for me!
See your partner.
Yes, this sounds weird. But no, it is not. I mean, maybe it is a little. Especially when they catch you staring at them. But really – this is such a huge and easy part of what it means to me to be intentional in my relationship.
What does “seeing” my partner mean? For me, it’s really looking at him and noticing specifics. I love seeing him while he drives. I’m sitting in the passenger seat looking over at the man who is choosing to be with me at that moment. I notice that. I see his dark eyes. I notice his long eyelashes, how they point down a little, and it makes me think of how he’s a sweetly sensitive person.
I notice how much I love that about him. I see his strong hands on the steering wheel and think about the specifics of how much those hands do for our family and for me – what his hands do at work to provide for our family, how he uses his hands to play catch with our sons, what those hands look like tucking in our daughters at night.
This is such a short example of “seeing” your partner. I love to “see” my partner while he’s working (we share a remote office in our home), when he’s playing with the kids, when we’re at church as a family, when he’s cooking dinner, etc. You get the idea! But you’ll notice when you practice this how intimate and almost sacred your thoughts are about your partner because you are the only person who can “see” your partner in this way. Give it a try!
Be intentional in your time together.
This idea goes beyond dedicating a specific date night once a week. This is about really noticing the time you’re choosing to share in the same space. For example: right now, I’m sitting on my bed writing this article on my laptop. My partner is sitting at his desk in our room doing math with our daughter on Facetime.
Before I chose to focus on being more intentional in my relationship, I would not have thought anything about this moment as being “special.” I would have been thinking that we were simply both choosing to be in our room. We just happen to be in it at the same time. That’s not the way I see it now though.
Though we are both in here doing separate tasks, I’m very aware of his presence (and I think he’s aware of mine). In the last twenty minutes, we’ve shared winks with each other, asked each other questions, played with our four-year-old when she danced in here in her princess dress, and we’ve shared quite a few quick glances with each other.
Taking it a step further is where the magic happens. I intentionally appreciate and love this time together. That’s what makes every day in our relationship so amazing for me since choosing to live my life with mindfulness. Acknowledging this moment, and then continuing to acknowledge these moments and opportunities throughout the rest of today is how I’ve elevated my day to day from just living it to actually experiencing it. Nothing is mundane when I choose to see moments purposefully.
Takeaways of a Mindful Relationship
Since I’ve chosen to “see people” and “be intentional in my time” with the people in my life, ALL of my relationships have been elevated! My experiences with my children are richer, my boundaries with unhealthy or difficult relationships are easier to keep, and my time on my own is more meaningful. I am not saying that I am perfect at practicing mindfulness in my relationships 100% of the day. That’s really far from the truth. But practicing this has absolutely elevated my ability to feel love for others, to show love to others, and to embrace the love I am shown as well.
Try it out! What does being mindful in your relationship look like for you? Share your tips, experiences, and questions with our community in the comments below! If you enjoyed this article, please share on social media using the buttons below and sign-up for our newsletter to receive advice straight in your inbox.