This year, more than at any other time, I wanted to practise gift-giving during the Christmas period, especially with the people close to me. I wanted to do gifts, not those rice, tomatoes or groundnut oil routine, because I didn’t have the strength to cook up a storm for my neighbours and wasn’t usually at home anyways.
With that mindset, things were a lot easier, except deciding what gifts to give. Haa! Okay, I take that back, it wasn’t that easy. While I pretty much stuck to toys for the children, getting my dear husband’s gift was another matter altogether. I didn’t want it to be something I had given him before, nor something that could be misconstrued (yes, I know who I’m dealing with). I wanted something romantic and cute but not over the top. I got it and added some personal toppings; don’t ask me what those were.
However, I didn’t get anything in return, because he thought it was business as usual, where we focused attention on what the kids would wear, eat, stuff for neighbours and friends, but none for us.
Well, I guess this Christmas was the reality check for us; it’s time to start from within. Apart from this particular lesson, there are other lessons couples can learn from Christmas, which can sustain a relationship all year round, if applied.
Giving feels a lot better than taking
Do I talk about the joy on the faces of my kids as they opened their presents or the surprise on my hubby’s face upon seeing what was beneath the glittering wrapper? Giving is truly more fulfilling that taking, and that was evident this Christmas.
Besides, a keyword often heard during the Christmas holiday is ‘giving.’ Even the basic story of the birth of Jesus is about giving and selflessness.
Christmas is the season to let go of selfishness and the constant focus on ‘me, my, and mine.’
Ordinarily, it’s easy for people to veer towards extremes; either becoming a martyr and sacrificing everything for the other or becoming selfish to the point of overriding the other’s needs.
Neither of these situations is healthy. It is better for both partners to give, that way they both get the feeling that comes with giving and receiving and in the process, their bond is strengthened.
A little mystery helps
Do you remember how much fun it was as a child to open up all those brightly wrapped presents, whether it was Christmas or not? Yes, it’s still fun right?
Well, Christmas and relationships both thrive when certain level of mystery is included, and it adds a wonderful dimension to life.
When you have been married for over five years, like I have, the initial passion might have worn off, and that’s when some mystery can keep that spark alive.
While it’s unrealistic and near impossible to expect a relationship to be in a constant state of passionate fire, it is important to have some scope for excitement. So, while you can be generous with your presents, leave some gifts under wraps! You get the drift?
- Sometimes, we all need a fresh start
Around the holiday season, you will find people doing lots of de-cluttering and organizing, so that they can make some sense of what decorations from last year can be reused this time round!
Old clothes are donated, new ones bought and there is a general feeling of purging.
Sometimes, that’s exactly what’s needed to refresh a relationship – a purge. Getting rid of past hurt, emotional baggage, and the cobwebs of preconceived notions clears up the air and can feel very therapeutic.
This, of course, results in a great deal of personal satisfaction and mental clarity, and gives both partners a chance to realign their priorities. In short, the couple gets a fresh slate and a brighter start to the New Year.
Keep expectations realistic and take charge of your own happiness
There are several studies which show that divorce lawyers get plenty of business just after the Christmas/ New Year holidays and then Valentine’s period.
The reason? You don’t need to be a prophet to discern that this is caused as a result of stress and loads of unmet expectations over the holiday periods.
Men, especially, claim to go through a period of extreme stress, simply deciding what to get their partners!
In any situation, having unrealistic expectations is a recipe for disaster, but never more so than in a relationship. We can’t control circumstances or a person’s behaviour, so having expectations regarding either of these can only result in feeling disillusioned while the other person feels like whatever they do is not enough.
This season teaches that you are the only one responsible for your happiness, not your spouse, just you and you should be grateful for whatever they can come up with and it its nothing, then its fine too. Your happiness is in your hands.
Your happiness is contagious
Yes, you read that right. I don’t know about you but there is something about December that releases all the happy hormones in my body. Perhaps, it’s the Harmattan or its very lack or just seeing the calendar read December, there is magic in the air.
That shows something happy influences my own mood, hence it stands to reason that my mood can be transferred and it is.
And that contagiousness is the most evident in a relationship – when you’re in a crappy mood all the time, it’s highly likely that the environment in your relationship is largely negative.
Being upbeat and cheerful changes the atmosphere completely, and is more conducive to a loving, healthy relationship. When you’re happy by yourself, it’s extremely hard for your partner to stay grouchy for long!
Those are some lessons, this season can teach couples.
So cheers to happy and stronger couples in the New Year.
Kristine is a member of The Lovelint team. She is a down to earth person, who says it as it is. Having given relationship advice for years in a national daily, she has found out that fear is one of the main reasons holding people back from enjoying a healthy, happy relationship. She is married with kids and is willing to listen to you and help as much as you let her to.