Help Your Self Holiday Care and Feeding Your Marriage

 In Individual Work

We’re heading down the holiday home stretch. Some of us are anxious, some not so much. Some of us believe that the ‘happiness equation’ – that measure we unconsciously apply to the quality of our own holiday experience – depends on the number of parties we attend, the size of gifts we buy or the electronic vs paper cards we send out.  

That may be so but I offer you a few other measures by which you can ‘reality check’ your own experience of this delicious time of year. Here are some home grown observations that help my wife and I stay grounded as the world around us spins.

a. Remember (be mindful) that this particular season resonates with the memory of the birth of a child. A most unusual child, born under the most primitive conditions and destined to remind people of a most unusual gift. That gift stripped of its religious language is this: that every person has access to the gift of legitimacy. Every person loves. Every person is human/ flawed/ ordinary yet – every person has within them something so extraordinary so profound that we may spend our entire lives discovering the depth of it.

  b. Within your marriage are two legitimate and loving persons. Remember that diagnosing and analyzing each other is a losing game. To learn more about what I mean in talking of ‘legitimacy’ go to “From Marginal to Magnificent: How to Make your Marriage Sing” – Honoring each others legitimacy is a pathway to reducing stress. It means that you take full responsibility for the love you experience and for the goodness you create.

  c. Truly less is more at this time of year. When in doubt simplify. Simplify gift giving. Simplify parties. Simplify family times (example: less tv, more sharing; less entertainment, more co creating activities that your whole family can share). Simplify eating and drinking – less is more healthful.

  d. This time of year provokes in many of us a deep need to connect to our spiritual center or roots. Take time to explore your deepest held beliefs and values. Take time to celebrate your ‘why’ – why do you work so hard, why do you want what you want, why do you hold back your loving… I prefer daily times of meditation and prayer to help me get there. Once I’m there I e. Celebrate the amazing gifts in my life. Celebrate your choice of partner. If you can stop analyzing and diagnosing the next step is to celebrate them – their willingness to love you, their presence, their flaws. Celebrate it all because in celebrating you take the attention off ‘what’s missing’ and begin to attend to ‘what’s present.’

f. Connect, connect, connect. The very essence of this holiday season is a call to reconnect to the foundations of loving. You’ll need courage here because the inner critic will seduce and deceive you. Few of us are good at truly and humbly connecting to not only those we love but to those who we don’t find so attractive. It’s well known that reaching out to someone who doesn’t necessarily ‘deserve’ your love is healing in itself. Mary Oliver in her poem, Wild Geese, reminds us that we are all part of the “family of things.” To move into that awareness is itself a blessing.

So these few reminders will greatly increase your own happiness equation and at the same time increase the happiness of those around you. It’s a time of great opportunity. Seize it. Claim it. Celebrate it. Hugs all around. Stephen

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