If the thought of the upcoming holiday season makes you anxious, you’re not alone. It can be a very stressful time. Don’t let it cause you to inadvertently put your relationship on the back burner. To ensure that your relationship thrives and that you and your partner enjoy your time together to the fullest, follow Dr. John Gottman’s tips for filling your holiday season with romance:
Give love, not gifts
On a budget? Instead of overspending on gifts, show your partner your love with a thoughtful, personal gesture. For example, think of 10 qualities you love and cherish about your partner, write them on little bits of paper, and put them in a jar with a ribbon around it. You can update this jar by adding to it long after the holidays pass.
Noticing all of the things that your partner does and thank them. Successful couples maintain a 5:1 ratio of positive to negative interactions. Simple expressions of appreciation like, “I really enjoyed the conversation over dinner” or “thanks for making the bed” will go a long way. Making deposits into this emotional bank account will come in handy during times of stress and conflict.
Stay emotionally connected
Make sure to check in with your partner before going to bed by asking questions like, “How are you?” Listen to their concerns, stresses, and frustrations. Don’t give advice, just express empathy. It is critical that you show genuine interest, communicate your understanding, take your partner’s side, express a “we against others attitude,” express affection, and validate their emotions.
Cuddle up with your partner and watch your favorite holiday movie. Take a walk down a tree-lined street and kiss under the lights. Make breakfast in bed. Hold each other. Dream. Reminisce. Make sweet memories. They are the ultimate gift you can give to each other.
How did your partner celebrate the holidays growing up? Do they have traditions? What are their best and worst memories? What is the ideal meaning of the holiday season in your partner’s mind? Have a conversation about how you can honor that meaning this year. Share your own family traditions and create special ones of your own together for this year, and the many years to come.
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