5 Ways To Really Connect With Your Partner During Busy Holiday Seasons
The winter season is the perfect time of year to take advantage of wintertime bonding opportunities. As the holidays often bring a long line of obligations and stressors, it can be tempting to put your own relationship needs at the bottom of the list. Yet when we carve out time to mindfully foster partnership connection, we're feeding the very relationship that is with us all year long.
Here are some ways to really connect with your partner amid the hustle and bustle of the holiday season:
Have listening dates.
Deep listening is one of the best gifts we can give to our partners. In the early stages of a relationship, it's common to listen intently as you get to know a new partner. Yet, as the relationship ages, it can be tempting to turn off mindful listening in favor of multitasking, interrupting, or being uninterested.
Action item: Make time and space for mindful listening. Set aside all other tasks, look your partner in the eyes, and listen respectfully, deeply, and quietly. (If you're not sure what to talk about, see No. 2 on this list.)
The goal is to make your partner feel heard and seen. If issues such as interrupting and distractions are hardwired in, be patient with each other as you rewire your minds to be present for heartfelt listening. Simply ask for a redo as you learn how to listen mindfully.
Just like deep listening, interest in a partner's life can fade once the limerence stage passes and the relationship "gets real." Although some might maintain that they "know all there is to know" about a partner, that's just a rationalization. No matter how static a person's life might appear, we all change at least a bit every day. True, some change a bit more than others depending on personality and environment, but there's always something new to learn about your partner.
Action item: If you've lost the curiosity connection in your relationship, start with simple, open-ended questions such as, "Tell me about the best and worst part of your day." The more you make heartfelt curiosity a part of your daily routine, the more you'll learn about your partner, and the stronger your intimate connection will be!
We are wired to desire connection. No matter how young or old we are, we benefit from being touched in loving, respectful ways. However, when life gets busy, it can be easy to forget the importance of pausing to give or receive a hug, hold hands, or connect with a soulful kiss. Fortunately, the colder months give us the perfect opportunity to snuggle by the fire, cozy up in bed, or enjoy the warmth of a bubble bath for two.
Action item: Have a conversation with your partner to share how you each enjoy being touched. Whether it's holding hands, kissing, hugging, or gentle massage, tune in to each other's preferences and how you can better connect through the power of loving touch.
When life gets a bit stressful—and we all know the holidays can definitely bring their share of stress—it's tempting to notice what a partner is doing "wrong" rather than all the things your partner does well.
But couples who are appreciative of each other tend to be the happiest, so don't underestimate the power of being grateful for your partner. In fact, one of the greatest gifts you can offer is your heartfelt appreciation. Whether you focus on your partner's kindness, compassion, playfulness, work ethic, or a thousand other traits, remember that daily gratitude will boost the health of your relationship and your partner's sense of being valued.
Action item: Strive to take a few minutes every morning and evening (and even throughout the day) to offer loving words of appreciation to your partner.
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The relationship-boosting power of laughter, fun, and play is tremendous! When a playful mindset is at work, you'll find that fun is awaiting you around every corner. Even mundane tasks become a delight when you and your partner embrace the connective power of play.
Action item: No matter how busy your schedule, carve out a bit of time every day to play with your partner. Whether you play cards or a couples game for a half-hour, laugh as you make a game of folding laundry, or take a fun-filled stroll through town, remember that fun can be found in some of the most ordinary places.
The bottom line.
The true beauty of these tips is in their evergreen quality; each tip is an enduring gift to you, your partner, and your relationship. By embracing these mindful upgrade steps this holiday season, your romantic connection will benefit all year long.
Carla Marie Manly, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist based in Sonoma County, California. With a holistic, body-mind-spirit approach, Manly specializes in the treatment of anxiety, depression, trauma, and relationship issues. She has a doctorate in clinical psychology from Pacifica Graduate Institute and a master's in counseling from Sonoma State University. Manly is also the author of several books, including Joy From Fear, Aging Joyfully, and her latest book Date Smart: Transform Your Relationships & Love Fearlessly.
Blending traditional psychotherapy with alternative mindfulness practices, Manly knows the importance of creating healthy balance, awareness, and positivity in life. Recognizing the need for greater somatic awareness in society, Dr. Manly has integrated components of mindfulness, meditation, and yoga into her private psychotherapy practice and public course offerings. Her psychotherapeutic model offers a highly personalized approach that focuses on discovering and understanding each individual’s unique needs and life-path goals.