When we think of Christmas, what comes to mind? Getting a gift, lots of food, family, Christmas carols, hot chocolate, and, fireplaces? How about; disagreements, fighting, or, separation? That is the grim reality for some.
If there is one thing that is common in society these days, it’s difficulty in relationships. We hear about struggles, we know people going through difficult hardships in their relationships, and even at a time like Christmas, we hear of families separating. Christmas is supposed to be a time of giving and sharing; not fighting and breaking up.
The why is about the same; money, fidelity and trust issues, bad habits, stubbornness and selfishness, anger and violence, as well as, communication issues.
When we come into a relationship with another person, we must realize there are two separate characters with their own separate characteristics coming together. Most will say, “yeah, I know”, but too many fail to realize the power of habits and mindsets.
We spend our life learning a certain way, doing things a certain way, and looking at things in a certain perspective. If someone comes against our ways, we can get defensive and try to protect ourselves. When this inevitably happens in a relationship, struggles can arise.
Anger, resentment, bitterness, depression, abuse, and belittling are some of the outcomes when we get defensive of our beliefs. When we introduce any of these into a relationship, we must realize the apparent downward spiral that awaits us.
We must work together if we want to stay together
When we see any types of negative behaviors starting to form, we must take action. We must get it in our minds that we have the power to make our relationship great, or, let it collapse.
When we realize that we aren’t helpless to make necessary changes, then, we can effectively bring even the worst and most hopeless relationships back to life and to a state of well-being.
It will take both to accomplish this. One can get the ball rolling, but soon enough, the other must get on-board.
One might need to step out and take action, which might include; swallowing pride and apologizing, accepting defeat and letting down guards, helping to get our partner motivated and excited about the possibility of a better future together, and, researching to find techniques and exercises to help get things moving in the right direction.
Getting both in the relationship on the same page and desiring the same outcome will make this all possible. Unfortunately, only one partner will not be able to make the relationship work, regardless of effort. It takes two. Both have responsibilities to the other, and, both must contribute each day.
To help get us started with some ways to make our relationship great, I have chosen 10 things to work on. I realize that sounds like a lot, but, it really isn’t. I didn’t pick topics based on what is most fun, but rather, I chose topics based on dealing with stuff that causes hurt and distrust and resentment.
Once we get proficient with these, everything else we do for one-another will be icing on the cake!
10 ways to make your relationship great this Christmas Season
- Give the gift of our full attention
- Give the gift of a great attitude
- Be forgiving and be forgetful
- Avoid anything that causes suspicion
- Make compromises
- Become a confident couple together
- Give the gift of open communication
- Get clingy this Christmas
- Be spontaneous and do something new
- Learn some new moves
1. Give the gift of our full attention this Christmas Season
To get started here, the first thing I advise is that we get our focus in the right area. We realize that there might be some issues to iron out, and, we know it will take effort. It will also take focus.
We get busy with work and running errands, and, we have obligations of course. But we must be willing to find some balance and make the relationship a priority. Work is important, but we must put marriages/relationships and families above work.
This doesn’t mean skip the next 3 days or quit a job; instead, it means leave work at work and be a part of the relationship when with our partner or spouse.
This also means, when we get home, skip the television shows and social media networks. Instead, grab your partner and whatever makes both of you comfortable, and sit and enjoy each other’s company for a while.
2. Give the gift of a great attitude
For this point, I really must be blunt; we can develop certain beliefs that cause us to develop certain attitudes. These attitudes are of the destructive variety; self-centered, condescending, disrespectful, judgmental, and, condemning.
Now, I’m not saying that anyone reading this has this type of attitude. What I am saying is that if this is our attitude, it will be virtually impossible to grow a relationship into something great.
This type of attitude doesn’t allow for any short-comings or mistakes. That would be okay if we weren’t in fact human, but rather, machines or programmed robots that don’t mess up.
Clearly, we are human, and we are going to mess up sometimes. We must have an attitude that is able to make allowances for the other.
We must develop an attitude of love and consideration for our partner to help the relationship flourish.
3. Be forgiving and be forgetful
We come into relationships with baggage and behaviors that might not be welcoming to the other. Unfortunately, this kind of stuff doesn’t come up in the dating or honeymoon stage. Rather, it often presents itself much later; when we’re in too deep.
When we get comfortable and complacent, we start to let our true selves show. If we could find a way to put it all on the table on the first few dates, much disaster could be averted. By simply knowing what we are getting ourselves into, we can better judge whether or not to pursue a relationship or not.
But it doesn’t happen this way.
So, when these certain behaviors or past issues come up, we must have a productive and positive way to deal with it. Common reaction is, “I can’t believe you did this or that”; “I don’t know if I can be with a person like you”; “you’re probably just going to do it again”; “you’re just a liar and I don’t even know who you are anymore”.
These are not productive ways of dealing with difficult situations.
Instead, we could try, “we all have a past but it doesn’t define us”; “what you did before doesn’t matter now if you have changed and don’t do it anymore”; “I understand that you made mistakes, but I am willing to work with you to build trust in our relationship again”.
Now these might not be perfect responses to any one situation, but the idea is to turn the reaction into something positive. To show that we accept that they have a past and might have some behaviors that don’t work in the current relationship, but that we are going to consider positive solutions to build a great future together.
And, when we do forgive, we must learn to forget. That is the greatest gift of all to someone who has made mistakes. I realize that there will be some things that can’t be forgotten. But they don’t need to be constantly brought up. It’s much more helpful to be aware of any form of threatening issues, but not hold it over the person. That will only cause resentment; not a healthy relationship.
4. Avoid anything that causes suspicion
To add to the previous point, if there is any concern for suspicion, it must stop. Building a great relationship demands trust. If there are any circumstances that cause suspicion, the trust will diminish, and insecurity will replace it.
If a relationship gets to this point, it is in serious trouble. Now, I didn’t say it’s over or that you should give up, rather, the relationship needs immediate attention.
In the most non-offensive way, we must confront our partner on their behavior, or, if it is us, we must go to our partner and apologize. It is vitally important to sit and talk about what is going on.
For instance, if there is suspicion about someone catching your, or your spouse’s, romantic attention. You will need to address this together. It’s not going to be about, “is he or she better looking than me?”, but instead, “what is it that the other is offering that you aren’t getting from me”. In many cases, infidelity will happen to fill a need.
An important need that is lacking with one person, is a need that must still be filled. The question is, who will fill that need. By letting our partner know that this need is neglected, they are given the chance to make some changes and be the one to fill the need.
Also, it is possible that two people can give up their better judgment to alcohol and other substances and have a night of meaningless passion. But, this doesn’t make infidelity excusable.
That’s why it’s important to avoid compromising situations. We must learn that when in a relationship, we must avoid any situations that can be mistaken as inappropriate, or, that can lead to intimacy with another.
We must be willing to talk to our partner about any and all things that bother us and not spend any time confiding in anyone else. It really isn’t their business; it is between the two in the relationship, and that’s it. What’s more, confiding in another about your relationship can lead to an emotional affair, which can be just as damaging to your relationship as a romantic affair.
5. Make compromises that benefit the relationship
Building a great relationship means doing what is necessary to make it work. This can sometimes mean that we must give up certain habits or behaviors.
We are still who we are. We aren’t going to change completely, and our partner must accept that. But, if there is something in our life that is preventing the relationship from moving forward, then we must consider which is more important.
A relationship is about give and take. A healthy relationship is where each person is much more focused on giving then receiving.
Is there anything you can think of that you do that is negatively affecting the relationship? Is there anything you can think of that your partner does that is negatively affecting the relationship?
Chances are, you will be able to come up with more things that your partner is doing then what you are doing. We don’t always see our behaviors the same way others do. This is why it is important to also bring this up with your partner and ask them to give their analysis of you.
This is not a beat-down session. This is a time for maturity and open-mindedness. Take what they tell you and start looking for some solutions to either make the behavior work, or, make necessary changes. And, do the same for them.
Once you are both clear about your behaviors, you can both decide together which behaviors are useful, and which ones to omit.
The compromise must be meaningful. It must aid the relationship in some way. We can’t simply give up certain things that matter to us without something in return. That would be seen as the other is trying to change us, and that will lead to resentment.
Instead, we can say, “I will stop spending money on such and such if it helps the household budget”, or, “I will give up drinking alcohol because I can see it is having a negative effect on our relationship”. These are good compromises.
They help build the relationship and open opportunity for a great future together.
6. Become a confident couple together
Confidence in a relationship means that both are comfortable knowing that they can each trust the other, that each has the other’s well-being in mind, and that the relationship has a future and goals.
Growing this confidence means growing security. This means, anything that causes insecurity must go.
In many situations, one partner might say to the other, “why can’t you be like so and so”. Simple answer; because he or she isn’t “so and so”. Your partner is who they are.
If we are feeling this way about them, it is possible that we will struggle to maintain a satisfactory level of attraction for them. Relationships can’t flourish without attraction and romance.
The best thing we can do for our partner is find their attractive qualities and focus on that. If they only showcased those qualities early on in the relationship, then, bring it up in conversation and tell them you need more of it.
It is vitally important to avoid letting attraction for someone else to grow. That is when we must distance ourselves from that person and get back into the arms of our partner.
Another common issue in causing insecurities is when we are with our spouse or partner and an attractive person or old fling enters the room. For some, they forget that their partner is at their side, and proceed to give this other person attention.
It is much better to turn to your partner instead and make them feel important. They might not be insecure, but it doesn’t take long for poor behavior of one to cause instances of jealousy or insecurity in the other.
Sometimes, it is better to take our spouse’s hand and leave the area if we are struggling to control our emotions and behavior. We don’t need to make a big scene. Rather, we must practice respecting our partner and do what is necessary to prevent any damaging issues.
7. Give the gift of open communication
I suppose this point could have fought for the number one place in this list due to its importance, but nonetheless, I have included it because it is necessary.
If we don’t communicate, we won’t make it. Relationships require communication. We can’t simply assume all is well and not engage in conversation with the other. It isn’t sufficient to wake up and say, “good morning, and I’ll see you tonight after work”, and then get home and say, “hello, I’ll be watching tv”.
I know this sounds ridiculous, but it happens. For some couples, this is about as much as they will say to each other in a typical day.
We must not allow our relationships to get to this point. If our relationship is lacking communication, take action and get intrusive.
What I mean is, if our partner wants to go sit and watch tv, then join them. Ask them questions during the commercials, let them know we want to talk. Eventually, they will get the point.
Let them know that there are concerns about the relationship and agree to discuss your concerns together.
If it is possible, change up the routine some. In the evenings, instead of climbing into bed and turning on the tv or logging into a social media account, try engaging in conversation instead.
Ask questions about the other’s day; talk about the finances and what can be done to improve them; talk about the children and how they are doing overall; talk about the relationship and where it’s headed.
There isn’t any specific list of questions. Think about what is on your mind, and start talking about it. Just be sure to not let any negative talk take root. Squash it immediately so it doesn’t build into a dispute.
This isn’t about one of us is right and the other is wrong. This is about finding out what is on the other’s mind and addressing it together in a positive and productive way.
8. Get clingy this Christmas
I know, nobody likes a clingy person, right?
I’m not suggesting that we become overly clingy. What I mean is, we must start treating our partner like they matter, and that we are attracted to them.
In the first several months and years of marriage and relationships, we use words like, “I love you”, “I miss you”, “I can’t wait to be with you again”, and on and on.
Eventually, it gets taken for granted. We stop saying it, or, we only say I love you before bed or after work upon arriving home. It becomes routine and loses its importance.
If we want to have a great relationship, we must be sure the other “knows” we love them. We can’t leave it to chance. We can’t just assume they know.
Give lots of hugs; cuddle up on the couch and share a blanket; watch their favorite movie with them; let them pick the restaurant; give them your full attention when they are telling you about their day.
These are the little things that matter much. Don’t deny the relationship, or your partner, these special moments.
9. Be spontaneous and do something new
Spontaneity isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, I realize. But, many do like it. It is good to shake things up sometimes.
Consider a bottle of salad dressing; let it sit for a few days and all the good stuff sinks to the bottom. Shake it up, and all the flavors and best parts become infused throughout the whole bottle.
Now, compare it to a relationship; focus on work, focus on errands and obligations, focus on the kids’ activities, and, ignore the relationship between husband and wife. Soon, all the romance and sparks and joy of the relationship sinks to the bottom and out of sight.
Injecting spontaneity into a relationship is like giving it a shake; all the best stuff comes alive again. Especially if it is a date night and the couple spends the evening talking about all the best things about each other, the best memories, and, dreaming about the future.
Do this often enough, and the sparks will re-ignite. The relationship will become infused with a perfect combination of all that matters.
Being spontaneous doesn’t have to be expensive, or over-the-top, or something crazy. It just needs to be something exciting and enjoyable that is beneficial to the relationship. This is just something to shake things up once in a while and take our minds off the usual, mundane occurrences we call life.
10. Learn some new moves
For this last point, and while we are on the topic of spontaneity, I am thinking it is good to talk about intimacy. I will be sure to keep it G-rated.
The intimate portion of our relationship also needs some spontaneity, or it can go stale. The spark and romance disappear, and the passion dies out.
What we are left with is a house where we are essentially, roommates. I don’t think I need to mention that this is not what a healthy relationship looks like.
It is possible that we can get used to the way we do things, and, we can get used to the way our partner moves, or, reacts. Sometimes, it is necessary to try some new moves.
Related: What Does Love Really Mean?
There are places we can safely look for material on how to spice things up. We don’t need to turn to adult-oriented material. There are books that can be purchased from bookstores that actually contain good information and thoughtful ideas on what can be done to re-ignite passion in the bedroom.
I won’t be addressing these in this article, but think along the lines of setting the mood; dim lighting; romantic bubble bath; giving each other massages using scented oils; romantic music; making an evening of it instead of trying to set a speed-record.
I am just saying; as a couple, if the flame is out, or almost out, consider relighting it with some new moves.
I have given plenty of ideas in this article where a couple could get started. As you may or may not need these specifically, there might be other areas that must be addressed.
The point is, if your relationship has slipped into a state of constant boredom, or, is unhealthy in some other fashion, it is necessary to give it immediate attention. One person might need to get the ball rolling and work to get the other on board as soon as possible.
But it is worth it. The Christmas Season is a time of sharing and caring and joy and making memories. Do something out of the ordinary this year; give the gift of a great relationship by making changes that will have a positive impact. Go into the New Year with a new attitude and start forming great habits together.
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How to get your spouse to hear you, by Mort Fertel.