Tis the Season to Make Your Relationship Great
It’s the holiday season! So much to do!
Gifts to buy and gifts to wrap.
Trees to cut down and tree to trim.
Decorations to display.
Outdoor lights to hang.
Family photos to take.
Christmas cards to write out and send.
Cookies to bake and candy to make.
Egg-nog to “whip up”.
Holiday parties and Christmas pageants to attend.
Road trips and airplane rides to pack for and take.
And many other things I’m probably subconsciously suppressing to not put myself in a state of panic!
Who do we do this all for? If you’re like me, we do this for the kids and the sisters and brothers and grandparents and the aunts and uncles and nieces and nephews and neighbors and teachers and for all the people we love and who are important to us, and maybe even for some people that aren’t!
Whose clearly missing in this list of important people?
Your partner. I know I’m guilty. I’m guilty of taking him for granted and worrying about everything and everyone else during the holidays first. However, if the holidays are meant to be with the ones I love the most, he should be pretty high up on the list of who is getting my attention.
So what are some ways you can make your partner and your relationship a priority and dare I say, strengthen it, during this crazy time of year? Don’t worry; it’s not going to add anything to your to-do that feels like just another chore or obligation. It’s more about being intentional with your thoughts and actions with your partner. Here are just a few suggestions:
1) Let go of control. This is a HUGE one for me. During my coach training, we gave silly names to some of our personal behaviors. One of mine was “Controlling Carebear”. I want to control everything to make sure it all gets done exactly “right” (i.e. my way) so that nothing falls through the cracks and so that no one questions my love for them. This also means it drove me crazy when Austin started pulling decorations out of bins and just setting them anywhere. OK, not just anywhere, but not where I would put them. I had a moment where I wanted to freak out and then I stopped, took a breath and appreciated the fact that he was helping and we were spending time together. And that made it all better! We had a great afternoon decorating the house. No one else knows that’s not where the Santa decorations belongs! This leads to my next suggestion:
2) Double team, not tag team. I know that sometimes it makes sense to divide and conquer to get things done: One handles the grocery shopping while the other chauffeurs the kids, and keep doing that for the normal stuff if you’d like. But when it comes to holiday preparations, do things together. Tackle the shopping, and the wrapping, and hanging the lights together – as a team. Those things just feel more special when you do them together. It’s easy to make them feel more like dates because they are out-of-the-ordinary things. Stop for a bite to eat during your shopping. Open a bottle of wine and turn on the carols while wrapping.
3) Ask and/or Offer Help. I know that I’m not great at asking for help (because of #1) but also because I don’t want to “burden” someone else, even my partner. However, I’m learning that receiving is part of a healthy relationship and it makes my partner feel valued and part of the holidays. Ask for help with the wrapping if that’s something your partner hasn’t done before. Perhaps it’s holding the wrapping while you tape, or being the finger to make a nice tight knot, but it all matters and gives you time together. And if you’re the person that is sitting on the sidelines letting your partner handle it, offer your help. Let your partner know that you are willing to help! That’s an incredible gift in and of itself!
4) Create a tradition just for the two of you. OK, this one is something “to do”, but the idea is to create something that the two of you can look forward to during this season that is special. Maybe it’s going to find the perfect tree without lugging the kiddos along. Perhaps it’s going to see an annual Christmas play or concert and having dinner a special restaurant. Honestly, this is a new one for Austin and I as we realized that we work so hard to create the most perfect and highly anticipated Christmas for the kids every year, but hey, we matter too! We are thinking an overnight in Chicago to see the lights, ice skate, window shop, get a Ghiradelli’s salted caramel hot chocolate (my favorite!) and have dinner. I’m so excited to do this and make it a tradition!
5) Cuddle on the couch with only the Christmas tree lights on. Take 5 minutes before bed to just sit in silence with each other enjoying the Christmas ambiance. No TVs, no phones. Don’t save this for Christmas Eve. You might find the physical closeness just helps relax you from a hectic day (we do). You might also find that you’ll start a conversation with your partner you may not otherwise have had that will bring you closer.
My hope is that you enjoy these ways of being with your partner so enjoyable that they will continue all year long!
Happy Holidays to You and Yours!