Welcome to The Holiday Sanity Blog Tour, 20 days of tips, tools, techniques, and perspectives from me (and 19 other coaches) with LOVE this holiday season. I’m so excited to be a part of this tour and connect with a group of like-minded coaches that have such a passion for helping others.
When Megan Hale & Jenn Scalia shared their vision for this blog tour with me, I knew I wanted to be a part of it because the importance of strong relationships is often forgotten or minimized. The holidays can bring up family drama, tension and feelings of envy when it comes to having a thriving relationship, so I’m eager to share with you a few keys so that you can enjoy your relationship more this holiday season and into 2015.
So without further ado, please enjoy my insights into how you can thrive in love over the holidays and into the New Year.
I’m going to be sharing a lot of information in as condensed format as I can, but this stuff is so important, so I hope you take it seriously if you are truly committed to creating your best relationship.
If you take the time to digest it and put to practice what I’m sharing, you’ll have a much firmer grasp on how to make your relationship work.
Step 1: Understand what Love is All About
The collective “we” have got it all wrong: The truth about love, and what it’s all about. As a result, we see high divorce rates, misery in marriages and youth reluctant to make commitments to each other.
In the last few decades, neuroscientists and psychologists have been exploring what love is really about. Thanks to efforts from pioneers in the field coupled with the latest technology that enables them to see into people’s brains, the code of love has been cracked.
Here’s a short summary of what love is really all about:
- Love is an ancient survival code that’s wired into our biology.
- Love is an emotional bond with our other half.
- We need each other after all.
When we quit denying our natural needs to be emotionally dependent on each other (and I don’t mean in an icky way that some might classify as “co-dependent”), and start making them known to our partners, we are much more likely to get our needs met. Then, we’re happier, more connected and enjoy a stronger bond with our partners as a result.
To read more about what love is all about and some of the new science behind love, click here.
Step 2: Befriend your emotions, get clear on your needs and be vulnerable and open with your partner about them
This can be a lot easier said than done if you’ve grown up in a family and/or culture that has taught you to sweep your emotions and true needs under the rug.
We live in a world in which the cognitive is favored over the emotional realm, as if we’re so evolved to “know better.”
Here’s the thing:
You can’t outsmart your emotions by denying that they exist. It just doesn’t work, and they’ll leak out to your partner in some way, even you think you’re trying to suppress them.
We are about as effective at stopping an emotion as we are at preventing a sneeze.
– Antonio Damasio, neuroscientist and author of Descartes’ Error
One key then to really being successful in love is to be fully integrated yourself.
You need to have an awareness of your emotions and be unapologetic about your emotional needs.
Because we haven’t been brought up to value our emotions or emotional experiences, many people don’t really know how to handle them.
As a result, people generally do 2 things with their emotions that emerge when they’re disconnected from their partners: They become totally overwhelmed by them, or they shut them down.
When this happens, killer patterns develop between 2 partners that keep them far apart from each other, disconnected and unhappy.
For example: You feel like you just can’t reach your partner so you get angrier and more frustrated, and he just shuts down. The more he shuts down, the more pissed you get, and there is no resolution to your problems. Around and around you go over the silliest of arguments. It feels like he just doesn’t care and that he is emotionally numb.
That’s a classic cycle that emerges between two people because neither are fully in touch with their deeper underlying emotions nor are they expressing them to each other.
The trick is to get truly clear on what’s happening for you underneath the emotional storm of frustration and anger. Most people I speak with, after a little digging, tell me it’s downright scary.
Here someone is with a partner who is non-responsive when the issue is trivial — what will happen when she really needs him? What is she doing emotionally invested in someone who doesn’t even seem to be there? Is this a reflection of her or how he feels about her?
I could go on and on. Shame, doubt, fear — so many difficult emotions lurk beneath the surface. But all her man sees is a raging monster who is constantly telling him how he never gets anything right. He backs off, pulls away, and shuts everything down, only further proving to her that he doesn’t care.
Underneath the rage is simply a terrified woman. And her man just sees a fire breathing dragon, and on some level feels inadequate himself.
Peeling back the layers and showing your partner the real you is what is necessary to create a truly strong emotional bond.
This can be extremely difficult and feel unsafe, particularly if a negative cycle has emerged between the two of you.
The importance of being vulnerable with each other, however, cannot be overstated.
Step 3: Prioritize your relationship, prioritize your partner
Here’s a great quote from a wildly successful business owner:
This is where so many people go wrong, putting everything else above their relationships.
When a disconnect between two people emerges, it can feel easier to turn away from the issue and go throw yourself into something or someone else: A business that you love, your career, a friend, a hobby or an affair.
And even before a disconnect emerges, it can feel necessary to put your relationship last on the list of priorities because you’ve got so much other stuff going on.
It’s important to remember what you learned in Step 1, however:
Love is a survival code.
We feel better, are healthier, happier and more successful in everything we do when our relationships are going well. There are countless pieces of evidence that prove that — I won’t bore you with the scientific literature.
This truth that you know in your bones may have been buried, but it’s time to get back in touch with that.
Put your relationship first.
It’s the best health insurance policy that you’ve got — it’s even better for you than green juice.
What this means in a few small pieces of advice that you can start implementing today is this:
- Make time for each other. Put your smartphones down, talk, get physical, do stuff together, just be together. Automate it if you have to. Put it in your calendar. I don’t care, but make it a priority
- Let your partner know how important he is to you. We all need to hear it. Over and over again. It does not make us ‘weak” or “needy” to want that kind of validation from one another — it makes us human.
- Lay on the appreciation. What you appreciate appreciates, right? So don’t take for granted how great it felt when he made you breakfast, let him know. And if that’s a stretch because he’s not (yet) making you breakfast, notice him for the smaller things. You’ll start to see more of them, and maybe start getting a nice dose of appreciation in return. Who doesn’t want to feel appreciated?
Got it? Now get going and start putting love back where it needs to be: At the top of the list. Your relationship is like a plant: You need to keep watering it.
I hope these 3 steps were helpful.
This should leave you with a good sense of where to begin in turning up the thrive factor in your relationship throughout the holidays and beyond.
Leave your comments below if you have any questions or feedback.
I’ve had so much fun connecting to so many amazing coaches who are passionate about helping others. I’d love for you to have access to the rest of the tour so you don’t miss out on this valuable resource.
Make sure to sign up here for The Holiday Sanity Blog Tour updates and check out Lamisha Serf-Well’s post from yesterday on Giving the Gift of Self-Care and Martita Robinson’s post tomorrow on Three Wonder-ous Tips to Take the Anxiety Out of Last Minute Shopping.
As always, I wish you love, especially through the Holidays!