Welcome to the Holiday Season!
Stuff to buy is everywhere. Shopping aisles are filled with trappings to assist happy, intact families celebrate together. In the USA we are on a countdown from Thanksgiving to New Year for non-stop partying and forced togetherness. In Adelaide, it starts with the Credit Union Christmas pageant.
Does that thought fill you with anxiety or memories of being disappointed and hurt by your partner?
You are not alone. Stress levels soar during the festive season. Even people in the most committed relationships can find themselves snapping at their partners or getting drawn into unpleasant disagreements. It is common to feel a bit disheartened and think that everyone else, especially the people in the commercials, seem to be so much happier with their marriage or family than you do.
I am writing this blog series: How to prepare for the holiday season to help you cope with the challenges of the Holidays. I want to share the wisdom I have gained through years of working with couples about how to stay connected and content, despite the challenges around you.
My work is influenced by the world-renowned Gottman Method Couples Therapy and I have used it to help many people improve their relationships.
In fact, the best way to prepare for the holiday season is to invest in the relationship. No, that does not mean buying grandiose, multiple gifts or major vacations in far off destinations. It means taking time to talk with each other and listen with an open mind.
Start with one easy exercise. More can be added each week of the holidays passes you will build goodwill and positive feelings towards each other.
Here is a Thanksgiving Exercise for you and your partner. Take time to consider 3 things which you really appreciate about your partner.
Write them down. Then in a quiet moment, share them with each other.
It can be as simple as saying:
- I really like the way you are so strong
- Or, I loved it when you asked me if I wanted a cup of tea
- Or, Thank you so much for picking up the dry cleaning
- Or, Paying that bill made my day so much easier
- Or, I really like your smile, your laugh or eyes or other things
- Or, Thank you for being a good parent, or cook, or decorator, or hostess…
- I like the way you look in that outfit.
This is a very simple exercise which can change the emotional climate in your whole household.
If you focus on the positives rather than perceived failings or limitations, you are both going to feel happier and appreciated. Your relationship can become a source of Thanksgiving rather than a trial.
Try it a couple of times this week. See if you notice the improvement.
This blog is designed as self-help and psycho-education. It cannot substitute for therapy with a properly trained professional. If you feel that your relationship problems are serious or require more attention I recommend that you contact an experienced and qualified psychologist or therapist.