A Strong Relationality View of Mindfulness and Flourishing I–Thou Relations: A Dyadic Analysis

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Journal of Family Psychology






American Psychological Association

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Despite the increasing popularity of mindfulness and research concerning its role in relationships, there is limited strongly relational theoretical discussion explaining the role of mindfulness in intimate couple relationships. In this article, we articulate a strongly relational view of the role of mindfulness in couple relationships. We then empirically test theoretically relevant associations using dyadic data (N = 514 heterosexual couples) from couples in the U.S. and Canada. In Study 1, we evaluated a model with male and female mindfulness predicting couple relational-connectivity (a sense of friendship, intimacy, and belonging) through couple responsible actions (behaviors intentionally enacted to strengthen couple connection), which indicated a fully mediated effect; the influence of male and female mindfulness on couple relational-connectivity was fully accounted for by associations with couple responsible actions (indirect standardized betas of .08). With a subsample of 120 of these couples, in Study 2 we used a daily diary design to explore how mindfulness was associated with ethical responsiveness (a tendency to respond benevolently to a perceived need), responsible actions, and relational-connectivity at the within-person level. Study 1 results were reinforced, showing stronger associations in these within-person analyses (indirect standardized betas of .21 and .23). In conceptualizing individual mindfulness and ethical responsiveness as dimensions of a more relational form of mindfulness, one way by which mindfulness may influence couples' relational-connectivity is through its influence on responsible actions. These results provide initial support for using a strongly relational paradigm to understand the role of mindfulness in intimate couple relationships.

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