The holidays are reminders that we want closeness yet unconsciously set up emotional walls of distance. This may sound strange and paradoxical as the holidays are supposed to represent remembrance and thoughtfulness, love and care. They also bring up all the early needs that went unmet previously and emerge in the present so we attend to them now.
In other words, we can spend a lot of time being busy and wishing for closeness rather than creating it. We even may speak about the more superficial topics, thinking it is the holiday season and this means we should suppress the real feelings. But this only perpetuates a fantasy of the ideal rather than making some of it occur. And, it brings up the question of whose benefit do we act inauthentic? We say for others, but it is no doubt to preserve ourselves. We want the sweetness we see elsewhere, or think we see. We ignore the fact that the honest and emotional approach is the only one that works.
For example, in order to counteract the falsity and fake cheer, why not devote a time for sharing night dreams? This can be expanded to a time to discuss and even create a safe emotional space together. Partners can make this a place for openness and kindness to each other’s inner world. And, you can add on a time to bring up dreams for life goals and new ways of being in the coming year. Use the opportunity to be direct rather than distant. Uncross your arms symbolically and literally. Listen. Be distinct. Reveal the fears and the feelings. Take a risk to be real.
The holidays then become a time for sharing and are lit with the glow of specialness as the air is cleared. People feel freer to give and take. We all feel more authentic when the gaiety of the time is real rather than fantasized.
These previous comments are meant to provide some short but significant ideas. Find your own ways together of lowering the gauntlet and holding up the white flag to each other. Do not do it for the holiday time itself but because each of you is important and your feelings and your life occurs in the present. Keeping the focus one each other will make those around you feel better as well and they also will have more authentic experiences. Making you and your partner the priority opens the door to love. Remember, quite essentially the love, like standing under the mistletoe or sitting together in a quiet connection, smelling the food or expressing love verbally are also emotions that can occur all year long.
Could you even make an agreement to remind each other of staying on this track? After all, if you work to establish something more pleasant now and, of course that is comprised of honest emotion, a new direction can be hewn out of the old. This is a time of renewal that can foster the unfolding of the sort of emotional renewal that includes getting closer rather than being stuck in emotional distance.
Susan Schwartz, Ph.D.