Wracking your brain trying to figure out what to buy for your partner or spouse for the holidays?
Maybe you’re hoping that if you can find just the right magical or romantic present, things will smooth over in your relationship. Maybe it’s been pretty tense and contentious lately and you’re feeling distance between the two of you.
Maybe you’re worried that your relationship is in serious danger and might end soon in breakup or divorce.
We’re here to tell you that no matter how expensive and no matter how thoughtful and romantic the thing is that you purchase for your partner, it’s not going to erase the communication (and other) problems you two are having.
What WILL help is to give communication “gifts.”
We call these “gifts,” but they’re actually not something that only your partner will benefit from. When you give communication gifts, you both will be able to…
- Move more quickly through conflicts
- Avoid misunderstandings
- Feel safer to open up and move closer to one another
- Be happier and more joyful
- Build trust and your love (instead of watching both repeatedly get torn down).
You and your partner may enjoy exchanging physical gifts with each other and this can be a fun and connecting experience. But, the closeness that comes with giving and receiving presents won’t happen unless you ALSO are sharing the communication gifts.
Imagine spending a lot of time and money on the “perfect” present for your partner for the holidays. You give it to him or her on the special day and, while there might be some amount of excitement when the present is opened, you two will still have the same habits and challenges that you did before.
Unfortunately, some people believe that they can basically “buy” more peace and love for their relationship. It just doesn’t work that way.
The luster of a pricey diamond bracelet or engraved cuff links is going to fade. This leaves you and your partner talking at each other, nagging, griping and even verbally attacking one another as you usually do.
You’ve got to identify the ways that you two communicate that are causing resentment and tearing you apart AND do something to change those ways.
So, this holiday season as you’re decorating your house and shopping for presents, be sure to set aside some time to start developing these powerful communication gifts that you’ll BOTH enjoy…
#1: The gift of really listening.
Nothing beats the feeling of really and truly being listened to. Especially when your partner is sharing thoughts and feelings that may be uncomfortable or difficult, find the courage to really listen to him or her.
Stop thinking about what you’re going to say next or how “wrong” your partner’s opinion is and simply listen. Listen to the actual words coming from his or her mouth and if you are confused, ask a question from a place of curiosity. Set a positive example for how YOU want to be listened to with your own behavior.
#2: The gift of not jumping to conclusions.
As you speak to your partner, focus on what you know is true and leave out the guesses or assumptions you might be tempted to make. You may think you know how your partner feels or what motivated him or her to say or do something…but you probably don’t.
Talk about how you feel and what you want. Use phrases like, “I want us to work together on this…” or “I want to understand why you said/did….”
#3: The gift of being honest.
While honesty isn’t always easy, it’s ultimately for the best for you and your relationship. Please remember that there are a lot of different ways to speak your truth. You don’t need to blurt out something rude or hurtful in order to be honest.
Be sure to also remember that what is true for you isn’t necessarily true for your partner. This is your truth, not THE truth.
#4: The gift of being present.
One of the most powerful communication gifts you can give your partner and yourself is the gift of being fully present. When you’re present, you turn off distractions like the TV and computer and you set aside a project or chore during the conversation.
Being present also means that you’re keeping yourself focused on what is going on now. You aren’t speaking based on the grudges you’re holding from 5 years ago. You are clear about what you want in the now and you cultivate an expectation that it’s possible– despite what happened in the past.
#5: The gift of gratitude.
If you want to transform the way that you and your partner communicate with one another, make gratitude a gift that you give every single day. Get into the habit of intentionally finding things that you feel genuine gratitude about– they can be small, everyday things or bigger things.
Feel it first and then speak it out loud to your partner. You don’t even always have to express gratitude for your partner all of the time. You can share how grateful you feel for the sun shining in the sky or the fact that you’re both healthy.
The important thing is that you’re feeling more gratitude more of the time and letting your partner in on it.
These are the gifts that truly do keep on giving!