Mindfulness-based relationship enhancement (MBRE) is a set of techniques used with couples who are already content with each other (i.e. not in distress) to help strengthen coping skills related to stress within the relationship.
All couples will face life challenges and stressors in their lifetime. As these difficult periods of life emerge, it is helpful for couples to have skills that promote working together and positive, adaptive coping strategies. That is where mindfulness-based relationship enhancement comes in.
MBRE has been shown to be effective for boosting stress coping skills, increasing personal well-being, improving relationship happiness, and increasing stress management skills.
The ultimate goal of mindfulness-based relationship enhancement is to learn how to be present in the moment, accepting of whatever challenges you are facing individually and as a couple, and taking your time reacting and making decisions to avoid the negative impact of hasty choices made in the heat of the moment.
Before we start to understand mindfulness-based relationship enhancement, it is helpful to take a step back and learn a bit about the concept of mindfulness.
Mindfulness refers to being in a state of focused attention and awareness of your present experience. It also involves being curious, open, and accepting of that experience.
When you are acting mindfully, you don’t immediately react to thoughts or emotions that pass through your mind. Instead, you act as a non-judging observer who explores and acknowledges feelings without immediately reacting. In this way, the roots of mindfulness lie in Buddhist or Zen meditation.
How does mindfulness help you? When you learn to practice mindfulness, you are learning how to cope in all of the different areas of your life. Rather than being a skill, mindfulness is a way of approaching life and the world.
Mindfulness makes all things in life more pleasant, it helps you to think more clearly, aids in being “in the moment,” and increases your ability to cope with stressful events.