Your Relationship is your Greatest Asset
So it’s nearly Christmas: the time for giving gifts.
What present are you going to get your partner, your mother, your brother-in-law, your best friend this year?
Last year I listed some special gifts to give to your love partner.
This year I’m going to look at one very unique gift idea.
It’s going to cost a lot, but its also not going to cost anything. So you don’t need to start saving. Actually, it’s the kind of gift that keeps on giving, not only to the recipient, but to you.
To explain this gift, I’m going to ask you to remember last Christmas. Who was there and who wasn’t that should have been there. Picture it in your mind. Now think of this Christmas and who will be there and who won’t. Good. Now hold those pictures while I tell you a little story to introduce this gift.
Our cat has threshhold-phobia: a fear of stepping through a door into another room, or from outside to inside. He stands frozen in front of an open door, shaking, terrified. “You can do it!” we coach him and even entice him with food. After several minutes he takes a deep breath and takes a running leap over the threshold to much applause from us.
Two Christmases ago, Christian and I stepped over the threshold of a relative’s home that we hadn’t entered for many years. We felt like our cat. You see, long ago, we had a large misunderstanding and we didn’t feel welcomed to enter their door. We tried hard to reconcile with no results. No wonder, 20 years later, we were feeling like our cat. Our family always have a secret santa present draw that we send in the mail and 3 years ago we had to buy a gift for our unmoved relative. We thought long and hard, did a lot of research and chose a very special gift. It was perfect, and they were genuinely touched. We’d made some steps in the right direction. The next year we were about to cross their threshold for Christmas. Invited.
So it’s nearly Christmas again: the time for giving gifts. The time for forgiving gifts.
I know I’m tackling a big one here and in some future entries I’ll talk more specifically about forgiveness. I’ve introduced it because this is the time of year where we often have to cross the threshold into a room where people have hurt us so badly we are screaming inside while trying to keep up “pleasant” but oh-so-painful chit-chat.
Picture your Christmas in your mind again. Is there anyone you could give the gift of forgiveness to?
What! No way!!! I hear you yelling.
Forgiveness? Me forgive? What an out-dated, out-moded, old-fashioned idea. It’s religious tripe that my grandmother used to dish about. Why should I? I’d rather fight and make ‘em pay.
This was Ken’s attitude. Ken’s a war veteran that Christian sees. For him, forgiving was a sign of weakness. But the science is against Ken. Forgiving has a multitude of health and wellness benefits.
Although forgiveness may not be for everyone – some people do not believe in it, some do not like it, some are too exasperated by the injustice and the effort – it is often discussed in Christian’s office. People agonizing over to forgive …all sorts of things.
Forgiveness is a gift you give yourself
After we had made it across the threshold, we still felt uncomfortable all day. I tried too hard to be enthusiastic about our relative’s scrapbook collection and sounded fake. Christian put his foot in it a few times and conversation was stilted, but it was a start. Little steps, small little steps to tackle a big mountain.
Forgiveness takes time and for major hurts takes even longer. If you want to give the gift of forgiveness this Christmas, start with the first step: deciding to forgive…that’s enough.
Christmas is the time for giving. Is it the time for forgiving for you?
Not forgiving has its advantages: it leaves your pride, anger, bitterness and resentment intact. Forgiveness, on the other hand, promotes peace, calm and understanding, while leaving your anger, bitterness and resentment in tatters.
Tis the season for peace, calm and understanding
Christian has just published a new book: "forgive (how to using neuroplasticity)" now available on our books page
This fortnight I’m taking a break from stories to bring to you some relationship gift ideas. You may not come across these in our material-driven world. Each values your relationship as your greatest asset. Anything material doesn’t hold a candle to the beauty and richness of deep, fulfilling love.
What do you give the person who has everything? How do you surprise them? Can’t afford what’s on their list? They may even say “I don’t want anything” but is that true? And maybe you want to give them something.
Christian and I have come up with three gifts that you can give your partner these holidays that money can’t buy. Each gift brings long-term happiness and is designed to strengthen and enrich your relationship.
For each gift, I’ll include some practical suggestions and a “voucher” that you can take a screen shot of, print and personalise. Better still, you may want to make your own voucher.
The Gift of Listening
Early in our relationship Christian didn’t listen.
“What!” I hear you saying, “but he’s a psychiatrist, it’s part of his job description.”
True. But I didn’t marry a psychiatrist, I married a music lecturer. He studied medicine later.
Christian was great at problem solving, but he didn’t listen. A lot of the time he would start problem solving long before I had the chance to tell him what the real problem was. Sound familiar? One year, he had had it with me complaining about how he didn’t listen, so he decided to learn. That was a wonderful gift to me, and laid the groundwork for the hours and hours of listening he does as a doctor: deep, caring, active listening.
You could give this enormous gift.
Here are some practical tips for learning listening. You can do any or all of them to work on your listening.
The Gift of Letting Go of Control
A few blogs ago I talked about control. I’m pretty controlling. My favourite thing to control (yes, I have a favourite), is what happens in the daily lives of my husband and adult sons. To be honest, I’d actually like to even control what they think about! So, I’m working on letting go of my control of their lives: their thoughts, their relationships, what they do with their time. My control drives Christian crazy sometimes. It hems him in and makes him feel stuck.
You could give this gift. Here are some practical tips I’ve been working on. I often fail, but I forgive myself and pluck up the courage to keep trying:
The Gift of Time
We live in such a busy-addicted world that our primary love relationship often gets pushed down the list of priorities. Time is money. Time is productivity. Time is “me time.”
“Us time” is often sacrificed.
Both Christian and I are guilty of this. As I write, we are both staring at screens and he is working on a talk on listening he’ll give tomorrow. Yes, we are productive, but we need to spend more “us time.”
The kind of time you give as a gift can depend on your personality or that of your partner. For example, if you like to control what you do with your time together, your gift may be “One weekend of doing whatever you want, whenever you want, wherever you want.” Don’t be surprised if s/he just wants to stay at home and do nothing planned!
Give the gift of time. Here are some other examples of time gifts to get you thinking. Use these or make up your own.
The most important thing is that the time gift is something that they would want to do, not what you want.
Each of these gifts – listening, letting go, spending time – mean much more than any packaged “thing”. They can bring healing, depth, richness and beauty into your relationship. They are gift-wrapped in love.
Welcome to our blog. Each blog contains an insight into your relationship and how to mend or grow it drawn from Christian's 18 years of clinical experience working in psychiatry. They are told as stories. The central ideas are in bold. All the pictures are originals. We post every fortnight and would love to hear your comments. Looking forward to travelling with you in this amazing journey called life.