Christmas is the time of year, for many, that has a lot of pressure dumped on it. Not only have you had to navigate the demands of the festive season, family gatherings and gifts. We find the shorter and darker days have an impact on our relationships too. Our children have been whipped up into a Christmas frenzy for the last month or so too. Then it’s over to you to manage the inevitable highs and lows of emotions.
It also doesn’t surprise us that January is the time when most people file for divorce or split from their partners. It’s a lot to carry if you are doing it alone, from an empty cup. Because let’s face it, regulation of our nervous systems is just yet another thing we need to take care of. For even the most well intentioned of us, it falls to the bottom of the list.
The way we feel about ourselves is the foundation of all of our relationships. Our insecurities and the failures we feel, are almost always developed through our early experiences with family and friends – often around family gatherings or this very time of year.
Being conscious of that fact is the first step to healing old triggers and patterns that can crop up.
At Christmas and New Year, we are either around family and friends that may have contributed to these feelings growing up, or we avoid being around them because of the way we feel when we are.
Either way it can be a time when our inner feelings are brought to the surface, and this often plays out in our relationship with our partner.
There are some really easy ways to address these triggers, which we’d love to share with you.
Communication is Key to Relationships
No-one is inside your head, they will never be able to accurately guess how you’re feeling, so let your partner know that when your sister arrives looking like she stepped out of a glossy magazine, whilst you’re covered in sweat from cooking, and smelling like turkey grease; it brings up your childhood feelings of not being beautiful enough.
Or when your mother-in-law comments that the roasties aren’t quite crispy or done to her specifications, it reminds you of your feelings of not being good enough.
If you communicate only how you feel without apportioning blame, it gives your partner an opportunity to understand why you may be more reactive than usual.
Express Your Needs
Be honest with yourself if you need something, ask for it.
We are all guilty of saying our partners don’t understand, but we aren’t always clear about what we really need.
Learn to say “when I don’t feel beautiful I need you to be a little extra attentive, I need the compliments, the reassuring touches”.
Or I really need you to help me with gift wrapping, shopping or just staying on top of the chores. Being vulnerable and admitting we need something can be scary, but it’s also key in creating a safe foundation within our relationships.
You get to really know and be there for each other. And they learn how to help and support you.
Listen in your Relationships
In a partnership we each have our own insecurities, when our partners express a concern, these insecurities lead us to assume it’s a personal criticism – we rush to defend ourselves or ‘fix’ it.
As a result, they often don’t get to fully express how they feel because they don’t want to cause upset or be told they’re wrong.
This may work to ‘keep the peace’ in the short term, but it also means much of what we feel goes unresolved; and at some point, that will bubble back up again.
Listen without responding, take time to really hear each other, without internalising what it means to us. It can be challenging, but when we can do this with love it opens the doors to much deeper understanding and connection.
Take a Breath
I know, we’ve all heard it – just take a breath, calm down.
Listen if you are at that point, it’s not going to work anyway.
The trick is to breathe before the issues surface. In fact we are often not aware that we are holding our breath!
Did you know that we breathe 25,000 times a day(!) and huge benefits can come from just adjusting your breathing?
Taking a slow deep breath in through the nose and out through the mouth can bring real calm – and often defuse any stressful situations. By doing this simple adjustment – of breathing in through the nose and out through the mouth, you can improve athletic performance, organ function, and can help with asthma, allergies and so much more.
Taking 10 minutes a day really does keeps the rage at bay!
If you have enjoyed reading our thoughts around self-regulation and being more conscious as a couple, then please do check us out.
It truly is possible to have peace in streassful times, it just starts and ends with you.
Don’t forget to check our other tips and ideas for a calmer life throughout our various section on The Wonderment. You can also join the conversation on our social media channels. you can find us at TikTok, Instagram, Threads, Facebook and Twitter.