Today’s Solutions: December 04, 2021

As the holiday season approaches, some of us are preparing to celebrate with friends and family in real life for the first time in a very long time. While exciting, the coming festivities may also mean that your list of obligations seems to go on and on, making it more likely for your own relationship needs (or those of your partner) to take a back seat.

Instead, try to be intentional about carving out time to foster the connection you have with your partner—this is the relationship that nourishes you all year round!

Here are some ways to truly connect with your partner during this busy holiday season.

Have listening dates

Think back on the beginning of your relationship. In the early stages of a romantic partnership, listening intently to what your partner has to say happens organically. However, as the relationship ages, mindful listening becomes less common while multitasking, interrupting, or other distractions get in the way.

Action item: Give your partner the gift of deep listening by blocking out time in your schedule for mindful listening. This means putting away distractions such as your phone or work, maintaining eye contact, and listening respectfully without interrupting.

The aim of this is to make your partner feel seen and heard. Don’t be too hard on yourselves if it takes some time to adjust to being present—simply remind yourselves to be patient with each other as you learn how to have successful listening dates.

Be curious

Another trait of new relationships is a genuine interest in the other’s life. This can also fade once the relationship becomes more established and you begin feeling as though you already know “all there is to know” about your partner. While this may be true to some extent as your lives become intertwined, there is always something new to learn about your partner.

Action item: If you feel as though curiosity has begun to fade in your relationship, try to revive it by asking simple, open-ended questions like, “Tell me about the best and worst part of your day.” As with deep listening, cultivating heartfelt curiosity comes with practice. Try to make it a part of your daily routine and you’ll find that the more you learn about your partner, the more your intimate connection will grow.

Touch

Humans are social creatures who crave and desire connection, both emotional and physical. In the rush to get errands out of the way and to-do lists checked off, it becomes easier to forget to hold hands or to pause for a meaningful kiss or warm embrace. Luckily, chillier weather gives you the chance to huddle together by the fire or cuddle up in bed and reignite your physical connection.

Action item: Set aside time to have a chat with your partner about how you both enjoy being touched. This will allow you to tune in to each of your preferences and learn how you might better connect.

Appreciate

The holidays are a joyous time but they can also be a stressful time—and when we are stressed, it’s a lot more likely that we’ll notice what our partners are doing wrong rather than what they’re doing right.

That said, expressing gratitude to your partner can be a powerful way to boost the overall health of your relationship as well as your partner’s sense of worth.

Active item: Start every morning and end every evening by expressing appreciation to your partner. Bonus points for doing this throughout the day, too!

Play

Laughter can be a powerful force. Allow yourself to settle into a playful mindset and you may find that even mundane tasks become a fun activity to do with your partner.

Action item: Even if you have a hectic schedule, you should try to give yourself time to play with your partner, whether that means playing cards or a favorite board game, or making a game out of household chores like folding laundry.

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