The Ultimate Holiday Gift: Nurture your marriage this holiday season

If it’s the season to be jolly…

…then why am I seeing so many stressed, beleaguered couples walking around? Is it more apt to say, ‘Tis the season to feel tense, frustrated and constantly on the go? Whether you’re feeling totally overwhelmed or slightly frustrated, it’s easy to lose perspective about what’s most important and valuable to you during this holiday season–your marriage or relationship.

What does the holiday season mean to you and your partner? Ironically, the gift of love can easily be forgotten this time of year. Wherever you live, it’s difficult to ignore the rabid commercialism and materialism that have invaded the holidays. Holidays are big business and many of us are programmed to believe that the makings of a perfect holiday are found at your favorite retail store.

You might think that plasma TV you’re getting ready to buy is the perfect way to celebrate your relationship, but — no matter how crisp and clear the picture is — it won’t strengthen your union or bring you and your partner long-lasting fulfillment.

The gift of you–your marriage, your relationship

Okay, so you’ve exchanged the gifts that you and your partner have been hinting at for the last six weeks. You expressed gratitude (or, if the gift missed the mark, confusion), said “I love you,” and cleaned up the wrapping paper. Does your idea of giving end at this point? Does exchanging material gifts feel like a complete celebration of love and your relationship?

Developing non-material rituals to express your love and appreciation is a powerful way to celebrate your relationship throughout the holiday season (and throughout the year). How you express your gratitude for your partner should be a reflection of his/her uniqueness and the meaning s/he holds for you. Be thoughtful and creative.

One couple I worked with developed an “appreciation ritual.” Each wrote on an index card one thing they loved about the other. As a holiday gift they committed to exchanging a card per week for an entire year. They had to think of fifty-two ways to communicate love, admiration and respect for one another. This gift had the benefit of nurturing intimacy throughout the year.

Here’s a question that will help you put your relationship above all material items. Ask yourself this question throughout the holiday season, and share it with your partner:
“In this time of giving, how will you create lasting opportunities to express your appreciation of your partner and the relationship that you’ve both created?”

When you’re busy crossing off items on your shopping list, go back to that question and give it (and therefore your relationship) the attention it deserves.

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