17 Dec 2012
How to Deal with Relationship Stresses During the Holidays
Whether it shows up in money arguments, sexual tension or other ways, stress often comes to the forefront during the holidays. A conscious loving set of solutions can help you overcome intimacy challenges at this time of year. Here are some of the most common issues we’re heard over the years and the practical shifts you can create to enjoy your holidays to the max.
Holidays increase the stress of relationship: If there is anything you haven’t faced inside yourself or communicated to your partner, it’s more likely to start jangling at this time of year. This is a great time to focus on expressing feelings and listening deeply to each other to fill your emotional and intimacy reservoir.
Holidays accentuate the Upper Limits Problem with increased closeness, celebration and appreciation. It’s easy to “top out” on how much good feeling you can integrate and to create ULP’s through over-spending, over-doing, breaking agreements, rather than focusing on being. When you recognize the symptoms of the Upper Limits Problem (e.g., irritability, time urgency, distraction, criticizing), you can have a menu on hand of easy shifts to integrate the increased energy, such as:
• taking a solo walk
• journaling for a little while to express what you’re noticing
• listening to music you really love as you breathe easily
Energetically, this is the season to rest, re-create and let things lie fallow. Be sure to give yourself and your partner/family, time to BE in the midst of all the doing that pulls at people this time of year.
Give presence rather than presents: This is a perfect season to spend time rather than money and to have experiences rather than substituting things for presence. For example, you’re never too old to be read to. We decided several years ago (our children are long out of the house) to give stocking presents only and to accentuate the gift of appreciation and being together. Creating experiences together last far longer than memories of the stuff.
Create your own rituals together: Regardless of your past experiences, you can generate the magic of sharing, being together and creating experiences of giving.
Examples of giving love: going as a family to volunteer at one of your local charities, to serve a meal to the homeless, to donate chosen toys
Examples of home rituals: when you decorate, bake cookies together and giving them to friends and neighbors, reading special books that you save for this time of year, making new ornaments together
Make sure you schedule time to be together, and have time alone to refresh yourself: Here are some examples that friends and students have shared: breathing and watching the fire, reading side by side, looking at the tree, lighting the Hanukkah candles, walking around the neighborhood at night admiring the lights. What renewal practices can you start this year?
The relatives and in-laws: Remember that you and your well-being are the priority. If you nurture yourself and create pro-active agreements about when and how much closeness you’ll share with he extended family, you’ll find that you don’t drain your good will so quickly. For example, following the family dinner ritual with some solo time in nature rebalances your whole system much more effectively than extra liquor or dessert.
Focus on appreciation and leading with gratitude, with your family, neighbors, store clerks. Use this time of year to really establish a gratitude habit that will take you into an abundant new year.
Drs. Gay and Kathlyn Hendricks