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By Chandrama Anderson

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About this blog: About this blog: I am a LMFT specializing in couples counseling and grief and have lived in Silicon Valley since 1969. I'm the president of Connect2 Marriage Counseling. I worked in high-tech at Apple, Stanford University, and in ...  (More)

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Get Couple-Ready for the Holidays

Uploaded: Nov 19, 2021
While this may be a time of family, love, thanks, giving, cheer, good food, and relaxing around the fireplace with good friends, it also may be a time of stress, high and/or differing expectations, extra activities, shopping, family drama, disappointment, and mixed signals.

This would be an especially good time to get on the same page with your partner. As long as you two are connected, then going through all-of-whatever-it-is-that-comes-next together, you will come out of it in January connected. And that is what we are all biologically wired to crave.

Connection, also called secure attachment or creating a “couple bubble” (Tatkin), consists of five parts: 1) giving attunement, which is a fancy word for listening and letting him/her know we heard and giving empathy about what we heard; 2) demonstrating that we have each other’s back no matter what; 3) seeking comfort from each other; 4) seeking sex from each other; and 5) creating a home that is a haven from which to venture into the world for all of the other things we do in life.

The really short version of these five things: put your relationship first. Help each other feel safe, secure, and loved.

Here are a few suggestions:
- Sometimes just naming the potential stresses and making plans for them can help a lot. This puts the two of you the same team, and the issues are a separate entity that you are facing together. And remember, things don’t always go according to plan. We all know this from the last 18 months of Covid.
- Don’t shoot for efficiency or perfection. Those might be useful at work, and are seldom useful inter-personally.
- Remember to treat one another in his/her Love Language, not your own.
- Carve out couple time. Yes, you deserve it, despite it being “family time”. When you do, you’re teaching your kids about healthy adult relationships.
- Remember what you each love to do, and what soothes you. A short walk, music, reading, being in nature, etc. Do those things!
- Introverts and extroverts have different needs. If you’re not sure which one you are, I pose this question: to recharge your batteries, do you get that from being with others (extrovert) or being alone (introvert)? Honor one another’s battery charging style. You’ll both fare better with full batteries.
- These are so basic, yet critical: sleep (work on going to sleep and awakening at the same time; be off screens for two hours prior to sleep) exercise, eat well, don’t drink too much, practice self-care and partner-care.
- Think about, and share gratitude. A chain of people caused food to be at your house, your heat to be available, etc.

Here are some things I have gratitude for:
- You, readers. Thank you for caring about your relationship and yourself enough to keep learning.
- My husband; I feel loved, secure, and cherished by him.
- My son & future daughter-in-law.
- My family and dear friends. Thank you for your support and love.
- My amazing artist, Nur Laffar G. Latip, who is doing an amazing job with my graphic ‘novel’, I Do, I Don’t: How to Build a Better Marriage. Coming in 2022.
- My improved health (I’ve coming out of 2.5 years of migraine hell). Thank you, Dr. Lee.
- Nature.
- Water fitness classes.
- Being able to help people--and to receive help (which is humbling and amazing).
- Last, but not least, my pup, Bixby.

As you can see, planning for the holidays is so much more than cooking, shopping, and celebrating.

Happy Thanksgiving!


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