This time of year can cause struggles and bickering with your significant other. Too many people sharing a small space, those ‘stressful’ family members, lots of conflicting ideas for time and celebrating, or just not enough time to do all the things you were hoping to do can lead to tense moments and terse words.
Here are a few simple ways to connect with your partner or spouse during the stressful days.
- Together make a point to volunteer to set up or clean up together. If you are with a big group, offer to set the table, wash the dishes, or gather the wrapping paper remnants. This can be just 10 minutes of time together to smile and share something fun.
- Make sure to say “thank-you” for at least 2 things the other did that day. This time of year, it’s easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of the shopping, cooking, traveling and working. We forget to appreciate all of the work that our partner accomplished. Maybe you can say thank you for him or her doing the driving, taking care of the kids, wrapping the presents or making a fabulous meal – even buying the best wine or eggnog to share. What is something special that your spouse does? Be sure to note it and – if they like the attention – share how much you love it in front of family and friends. Nothing makes someone feel special than overhearing their spouse bragging about them to a friend or family.
- Do one small thing the other likes that day. Does your partner like coffee? Bring them a cup in bed. Does your partner have a sore neck? Maybe you could massage the knots out or get them a warm compress or heating pad. Try something new, like volunteer to do a job that you know that they really don’t like to do…
- Put the phone down and be present, sit next to your partner, hold hands and watch the “goings on.” This is the time of memories and family connections. You don’t want to miss a special moment, a thankful smile, a grateful giggle or a touching glance. You need to be aware of those times and your phone is not going to share those with you. The email can wait, the online game will be there after the holidays, and you need to detach from work for a day or two anyway. It’s a healthy choice for you, and for your family. Touching your significant other shows them you care, especially in the stressful moments.
- Take “couple time” – just the two of you – for at least 20-30 minutes each day. This might be easiest at the beginning or ending of the day, but don’t neglect this important connection point. This is a great time to share a memory or a new moment that you noticed. Each take ten minutes of uninterrupted sharing, being a great listener, and taking time to touch. This is a great time to snuggle up together.
- Create (or do) your own special tradition for the holiday. If you don’t have something that is uniquely yours, or your small family’s, then this is the year to start. Find a special recipe, unique plate(s), fun game, or other idea that you’ve been wanting to try. Then next year practice it again, and again, and again. Want to go look at Christmas lights? Do it! Go to the theater as a family? Try a matinee and then share some dessert and talk about the movie together afterward! Traditions are what make lifelong connections.
You have a great opportunity to become even closer as a couple! Practice becoming closer together. Practice becoming better together. Practice makes beautiful.