Wednesday, December 29, 2010
Thursday, December 09, 2010
Remember to laugh, love and reconnect
By Susan Dutton Freund, thinkmarriage.org
For most of us, the holiday season is about spending time with friends and family and enjoying the spirit of the season. In reality, however, this often comes after we finish the shopping, cleaning, decorating, baking, wrapping, and all of the other obligations that compete for our time. It is easy to find that even our most special relationships have been relegated to the “back burner,” in order to get everything done.
It doesn’t take a lot of time or money to unplug the holiday machine for a moment and reconnect with the one you love. For our own Twelve Days of Christmas, we have come up with 12 ideas to help you deliberately invest in the health of your relationship this holiday season. These are simple and cost effective ideas that are designed to create positive interaction and help you experience the true spirit of the season. Add your own favorites and enjoy!
- Write a love letter. It’s not just for Valentine’s Day and your spouse will appreciate the time you took to share your feelings. Love letters often become treasured heirlooms that are saved for a lifetime. Put your love into words and give a very special gift.
- Hold hands for five minutes or more. Sometimes something as simple as physical touch can reconnect a couple. After you hold hands, take time to embrace for at least seven seconds. Focus on feeling the energy of your spouse or partner. Afterwards, look deeply into each other’s eyes and say a sincere “I love you.”
- Get home from work early and make your spouse’s favorite dinner. He or she will appreciate your efforts and will love to find a home-cooked meal waiting after a hectic day at work. You can spend the extra time talking about your day. While your mate is talking, focus on using active listening skills to reflect back his or her thoughts and emotions.
- Tackle the pile of gifts that need to be wrapped. It will be very much appreciated! Better yet, tackle it together. As you wrap, talk about how each person you are wrapping a gift for enriches your life as a couple.
- Finish this sentence: “I appreciate…” For example: “I appreciate you bringing me a cup of coffee this morning. You do that a lot, and it really helps me to start the day feeling loved.” Do this five times today. It doesn’t have to be recognition of a great big thing, just a recognition given with great appreciation.
- Have a date night. With all of the holiday parties to attend, it’s easy to let this one slip. But having a date night (where it is just the two of you, not the two of you in a crowd of all your friends) will give you the time to focus just on each other. Spend the date talking about your dreams for your future together.
- Watch a classic holiday movie together. Then talk about what you liked after the movie is over. Highlight any positive aspects of your relationship you saw reflected in the movie.
- Share your favorite holiday traditions you had while growing up with your spouse. Talk about what traditions you two have built together and how it has enriched your family. If you don’t have any, talk about what traditions you might like to build and how you imagine they might enrich your family. Even doing something different every year can be a tradition.
- Go for a walk right after a light snowfall. Even a walk around the block is an opportunity to connect after a long day. During the walk focus on feeling the energy of your spouse or partner. Think of reasons you are grateful to be together. Talk about what you experienced when you get home.
- Meet for lunch during a work day. Commitments increase during the holidays. Meeting for lunch guarantees some time together when you just can’t fit one more thing into the day. Deliberately flirt across the table with each other. See if you can make other people smile as they watch you interacting.
- Bake holiday cookies together. It’s a great activity that can become a holiday tradition for the two of you. Pretend you just met recently and you are having a first date. Compliment each other on the baking and decorating skills you are showing. Go overboard making a “special” cookie for each other. Feed the special cookies to each other the way the bride and groom do with a wedding cake.
- Volunteer. Helping a worthy cause is a great way to remember what the holidays are about. Find a cause you both would feel good contributing to, and work out how you will contribute together as a couple. Afterwards talk about how your marriage can or does enrich the lives of people around you.