How do mindfulness, self-compassion, other-compassion, and need fulfillment affect satisfaction in midlife married couples?

Many people practice mindfulness or self-compassion techniques in their everyday life as part of their normal self-care routine. Although many studies support the individual benefits of mindfulness and self-compassion, few have focused on romantic relationship outcomes. A new study published in Personal Relationships examined how mindfulness, self- and other-compassion, and need fulfillment relate to relationship and sexual satisfaction in midlife married couples.

The study involved survey results from 640 adults aged 40–59 years who were residing in Canada and were married.

Mindfulness is the nonjudgmental attention and awareness to present moment experiences; other-compassion and self-compassion describe a kind disposition toward others and oneself; and need fulfillment is broken down to autonomy needs (feeling uncoerced in one’s actions), competence needs (feeling capable), and relatedness needs (feeling connected to others).

Statistical analyses of participants’ responses showed a complex interplay between these factors, and highlighted the importance of need fulfillment, especially relatedness needs, in connecting higher mindfulness and self-compassion to higher satisfaction in midlife married couples.

“Romantic relationships are wonderfully complex and affected by a great many personal and interpersonal variables. We utilized an analytic approach that could model that complexity,” said corresponding author Christopher Quinn-Nilas, PhD, of Memorial University. “Our results, although preliminary and exploratory, suggest that there may be positive relational benefits to being mindful and self-compassionate. But these positive benefits appear to occur indirectly (via associations with more proximal variables, like need fulfillment in the relationship), which is consistent with emerging theory in this area.”

About the Journal
Personal Relationships is an international, interdisciplinary journal that promotes scholarship in the field of personal relationships using a wide variety of methodologies and throughout a broad range of disciplines, including psychology, sociology, communication studies, anthropology, family studies, child development, social work, and gerontology.

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