The holiday season is upon us. However you celebrate it, our culture is full of ideas of what to give to others. But how do you give to and nurture your intimate relationship? Even though holidays can be painful for some of us, here are some holiday season relationship tips.
What qualities and characteristics are most important to you in a partner? Make sure that you focus on developing these qualities in yourself instead of wanting your partner to change. Be the partner you would like to have. Become the change you want to see happen.
We often have a list of things we want others to give to us, or a list of how we want them to be towards us. Yet we rarely ask ourselves what we can give to the relationship.
To keep your partner and your relationship happy, you need to be the kind of person who has the qualities on your list. Change yourself first and stop expecting your partner to give to you what you don’t give to them.
Here are six holiday season relationship tips for giving to and nurturing your intimate relationship and surviving Christmas as a couple:
1. Give Your Love Fully
You must communicate clearly to your intimate partner through actions and words, “I’ve got your back, no matter what”. Differences and disappointments between you are inevitable, that’s the reality of relationship life. All couples have normal relationship conflicts.
You need to learn to have healthy conflicts, using compassion and loving-kindness as much as possible. Make respect for your partner be the focus of all your interactions. Respect, trust and commitment are the greatest gifts of love you can give.
2. Open Your Heart Fearlessly
Honesty and transparency are needed for authentic closeness. Don’t be afraid to be yourself and share yourself, no matter how difficult the issue you’re discussing. Don’t be a people-pleaser – you’ll be selling yourself out and undermining trust by not speaking your truth. Learn to say “no” in a healthy way.
Total commitment to being real and honest supports the integrity of your relationship. Be willing to share openly, listen carefully and show that you understand. With that focus, you’ll keep learning and growing, individually and together. You will be learning to love fearlessly.
3. Tell Them How Much They Mean to You
Sometimes, when you feel close, you think that your intimate partner can read your heart so they don’t need words or actions to confirm what you feel. Words and actions are necessary! They can’t read your mind.
Say how important they are in your life. Make the most of your relationship. Tell them when you saw something they’d love and wished they’d been there with you. Find things to appreciate in them and tell them what you notice – this enhances the good feelings and connection between you. What you focus on grows. Make a conscious choice to focus on what they do right and actively show appreciation for these things. Make sure it’s a genuine and honest appreciation, something you actually see, value and appreciate.
4. Support Your Partner’s Independence
No matter how close you are, you remain individuals with your own needs. Mutual respect for each other’s independence and time alone makes the relationship stronger. The key here is that this time alone must be good for you, good for your partner, and good for the relationship. These three elements must always be kept in mind. It’s like a three-legged stool. Your relationship stool can’t stand solid unless it has all three legs.
You can also advocate for them by supporting of their life purpose. This is part of living fully and being true to yourselves. Being supportive of each other’s projects can lead to interactions that are enjoyable, helpful and beneficial. Your partner may also have meaningful and nurturing relationships with their own family and friends. Acknowledge that they might want private time with these people. You don’t always have to be together.
5. Enjoy Special Time Together
Don’t forget to have fun together. Fun, play, novelty and pleasure are important for relationships. For intimate partners it’s especially important to seek out new adventures you can do together. Do different things in addition to dinner and a movie for your “date night”.
Special time can include problem-solving sessions, when one or both of you are experiencing a problem. Close relationships provide an opportunity to explore your humanity, your mistakes, your need for fun and lightness, to balance your search for meaning in life.
6. Keep Sex Vibrant
A stimulating, fun, meaningful, and yet considerate, connected and well-meaning sex life is at the heart of intimate relationships. Combine sex with love. As your relationship years go by, you need to remain willing to do whatever it takes to grow and expand, to keep satisfaction, sex and romance alive and thriving, no matter your age or health status. Focus on the new mantra about sex – “connection and pleasure”. This can happen no matter how old you are or what your health status is like. Do this knowing that shared connection and pleasure keeps your love connection strong.
There is a lot practical, scientific advice about how to have the best relationship and good sex with your partner, no matter how old you are or how old your relationship is. This advice busts many myths about long-term relationships. Because the hormone-related drive for sex decreases with busy-ness and age, a good enough sex life requires planning, creativity as well as open discussion and mindful sex. All this comes if you put these six relationship tips into action every day. Persistence and consistence creates loving, authentic relationship.
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This post was adapted from “Mindful Aging” by Dr. Andrea Brandt.