Walking on Fresh Grass
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 a little story of our journey and an insight drawn from Christian's 18 years of clinical experience as a psychiatrist. The central ideas are in bold. We post every fortnight and would love to hear your comments. Looking forward to travelling with you in this amazing journey called life.