Holiday season is upon us! Whether you live in a moderate climate like North Carolina where you just finished raking leaves and cutting the lawn or shudder in the chill of a Canadian winter at temperatures far below freezing, you no doubt feel the mix of holiday busyness and the child-like thrill of anticipation either in your own heart or the hearts of little loved ones in your life.
If your primary relationships are somewhat in disarray or in “total shambles” as someone said to me to-day, this time of year can be additionally distressing. This may be a fabulous time to stop and think of gift-giving in terms of how you can enhance a relationship with one or a few others who are especially important to you.
Gift-giving: Clear uncluttered messages and gestures of touch
If you have been building walls between you and a significant other to protect yourself from difficult feelings or have been trying to crash another’s walls down with your angry protests, this could be a perfect time to consider another way. Instead of building or destroying walls, how about sending clear, uncluttered messages of love and desires to connect?
Gift-giving in terms of relationship-building may mean opening your heart to your partner, your teenager or young child with a new gesture or a new conversation.
Let them know that you want to be close. Offer hugs. Take time to savour hugs with the one you love. Reach out with clear non judgmental messages of your wants, for closeness and listen with respect to the responses you receive.
Remember that a universal and beautiful part of being human is that we need one another. You could celebrate this need by telling someone how their presence in your life makes your life better. Search deeply if you must. Appreciate that your needing another person is something to celebrate, not to be ashamed of.
If you are feeling hurt by your partner, take a few moments to reflect on the mix of emotions that make up this feeling of hurt. You will discover some anger, some sadness and likely some fear. Find a way to tell him or her in an open, clear manner about your mix of feelings and about what you need to help soothe this injury.
Reach out to the ones you care about. Children and teens are not responsible to meet our needs for love and closeness, but they need our love, security, strength and wisdom. They need us to be confident in ourselves. This means finding our own secure base with our partner or significant adult so that we can be a secure base for them.
Relationship building with your partner could be enhanced with the help of the self-help book “Hold Me Tight: Seven Conversation for a Lifetime of Love by Dr. Sue Johnson or the companion dvd “Hold Me Tight: Conversations for Connections” with Dr. Sue Johnson. Following is an adaptation of a review that I wrote for the summer newsletter of the International Centre of Excellence in Emotionally Focused Therapy (ICEEFT), published in 2009.
Review: “Hold Me Tight: Conversations for Connections” with Dr. Sue Johnson
Curl up on the sofa with your partner in front of the t.v. and enter the personal worlds of couples you’ve never met. Seize a remarkable opportunity to discover tender parts of yourself and your partner that you may never have shared before.
Susan Johnson has clearly achieved her objective of enhancing the self-help dimension of the Hold me tight book with this marvelous companion dvd. Superb editing has created a visually and musically pleasing experience. With the collaboration of three attractive couples, Johnson succeeds in demystifying the nature of romantic love in a down-to-earth manner with which all couples can resonate. A couple dancing steps of the Argentine Tango, sets the background for three separate couples who have prepared for their on-screen dialogues by reading the Hold me tight book together and discussing their relationship with the help of questions and guidelines provided in the book.
What makes this self-help tool unique is that it is an interactive experience. It engages viewers in a structure that makes it safe for couples to move to a deeper level of conversation and connection. More than merely a fill-in-the blank communication exercise or a talk-show success story, it is a hands-on pathway to connection for anyone to follow.
It is an encouraging self-help guide for couples. You witness the transformation of highly distressed couples who are on the brink of giving up, creating safe connection and rediscovering the passionate love, which marked the early days of their relationships. If you or your partner are unable or reluctant to go for couples therapy, you can examine your relationship in the privacy of your own home with the help of this dvd. You are likely to recognize yourselves in at least one of the three couples. The negative spirals that these couples get caught in are likely to be familiar to you. As they discover and discuss their hidden fears and needs that are typically overlooked you will very likely discover softer messages hiding in your own or your partner’s heart as well.
Couples in therapy can also benefit from this dvd. The three dvd couples’ open and intimate conversations bring the therapy process to life. It will help you stand back from the intensity of your own negative patterns and observe the intimate process of three courageous couples openly following this roadmap of love. You will reflect on your own relationship as you engage with the couples as they move through each conversation. You will wipe away your own tears as you witness the profound change process of the latter conversations, and will celebrate alongside them as they create their resilient relationship stories and reflect on their new beginnings.
The couples’ dialogues are a message of hope for love and the flowing dance of intimacy; a testament to the value of utilizing the Hold me Tight conversations to develop a more secure bond. Whether or not you choose to contact a therapist this dvd demystifies love and the search for secure connection, and also de-stigmatizes our human needs for support and help and comfort.