This blog post started few month ago in November when I usually write my “how to survive the holidays” post. In these last few months, I have sat with many couples in therapy and talked about the coming holiday stress and about how to manage, cope, survive, and thrive in the holiday season. For many holidays can be a hard time.
They can be a time of painful memories: Our first holiday without mom or dad, our first Christmas tree decorated alone, or even our first holiday season without our partner.
New couples may want or need to split their time between two families of origin. This can lead to driving, packing, making food, and wrapping presents in a stressful frenzy in an attempt to not hurt or disappoint anyone’s feelings.
While families can be a source of great strength, connection, love, and caring, they can also be a reminder of violence, neglect, abuse, and disconnection. Around the holidays, many people experience P. T. S. D. (posttraumatic stress disorder) with flashbacks of times in their past when the holidays were a time of dread, addiction, and dysfunction.
And with all of that, at times we can be lonely even when we are not alone, feeling that all those around us are cheerful and content while internally wondering, “Why can’t I feel joy?”
In all of this, it is important to remember that modern society is having it’s own struggle with loneliness and disconnection. NPR’s All Things Considered quotes the US Attorney Generals new report, Our Epidemic of Loneliness and Isolation, saying “In the last few decades, we’ve just lived through a dramatic pace of change. We move more, we change jobs more often, we are living with technology that has profoundly changed how we interact with each other and how we talk to each other.” They also note that, “…you can feel lonely even if you have a lot of people around you, because loneliness is about the quality of your connections.”
So, what can we take away from all of this? It is more important than ever to slow down and make time to connect both with ourselves and with those we love.
Humans have lived in tribes for thousands of years shaping our biology through the shared experience of communal belonging. Living today in tribes of two or even one, it’s important to think about neighbors or friends that may not have families or others with whom to share the holidays. We can all benefit from sharing the extra space at our table and building more feelings of community and belonging.
When it is obvious that the goals cannot be reached, don’t adjust the goals, adjust the action steps.Confucius
Another yearly blog I write during this season is about how to make and maintain New Year’s resolutions. If we engage with it, the beginning of a new year can be a time of reflection, commitment, setting intentions, and putting behind us what no longer belongs in our lives.
Not surprisingly, this time of year, I get a lot of inquiries about starting therapy. I try to clear my schedule toward the end of December so I can accommodate those New Year’s resolutions and new beginnings.
As we move into the new year putting our best foot forward with our new beginnings, changes, followups, resents, relationships and personal growth, it can be hard not to lose steam. Some people who struggle with drinking commit to a dry January but find it hard to maintain their wish to lead a healthier life. For others it might be to talk about the hard stuff in their relationship, or write a letter, or make a call they have been avoiding.
While January 1st is just another day on the calendar, it also represents an opportunity for change. And for me, as we move into the year and the newness fades, rituals like Jan 1st are one way to stay consistent. They mark time, create a rhythm, and help me stay focused.
We have our ordinary rituals of birthdays and anniversaries, but those only come once a year. Some couples I work with try to plan a date night every week so that they can continue to work on their relationship away from home, the kids, and chores.
Ritual can be something we learn to look forward to and committing to them can help us stay committed to our resolutions even when we get overwhelmed by the busyness of life, aren’t able to keep our promises, or struggle to see the incremental progress we are making over time. Jessie Harrold gives us some guidelines for creating rituals in their mindful.org article titled Why Rituals Matter (and How to Create Your Own).
Upcoming Couples Workshops
The wish and desire to cultivate a deep, significant, meaningful, erotic, fulfilling, romantic relationship, is part of us being alive. Keeping your love alive, your communication with your partner intimate and transparent, and your sex life juicy and vibrant can take work.
Hold Me Tight® Couples Workshop – Grass Valley, CA / Spring ’24
Costa Rica Hold Me Tight® Couples Retreat – Rescheduled for Feb. 11-16, 2025
The Hold Me Tight® 6-day (5-nights) Couples Retreat at the Costa Rica Imiloa Institute offers a unique and intensive healing experience designed to move couples out of disconnection and into a place of love, understanding, and hope. It is also a time to celebrate your relationship and take time for play, joy, and intimacy.
Please do not hesitate to contact me privately by email with any questions.
Happy New Year!
In gratitude and love to all of you,