Think about the various commitments you and many others have made over the years. We did, and came up with this very brief list of common resolutions we typically hear before the new year: I’ll lose weight. I’ll stop smoking. I’ll spend more time with my partner, or with my children. I will save money. I will be less stressed out. Then, somewhere around the second week of January, those promises go the way of all the other promises. Some of us may not fall off the wagon until a few months later, but by year's end most of us will not have made it through as we had indented. We start snacking, smoking, or spending more time at the office. We swipe the credit card impunitively. And most of us have found out the hard way that we cannot simply wish our stress away...
The holidays can be particularly difficult for people to cope with. Some will want an escape from the memories of past holidays. Others will be looking for activities that will provide them with the opportunities to create new memories. Holidays also generate obligations, which can appear to occur in a continuous stream with no breaks. Whatever your experience, many people encounter a great deal of stress during the holidays. Many have even come to expect the agitation and the disagreements. When thinking about changing this yearly pattern of stress, so many of us have said, “Why bother? The holidays are to be endured, not enjoyed.”
We have all known times when our romantic life seems to just “click” on all cylinders. Oh how wonderful it can be! At other times however, it feels as if we are running a romantic fever and cannot seem to get it right. When relationships are experiencing poor romantic health, partners are not likely to view each other as valuable. Our tendency during times of “soul sickness” is to see the flaws in our partner’s character. Those flaws can seem glaring! Our partner’s behavior will become increasingly less tolerable and our attention will be drawn to the ways in which it seems that our partner detracts from the quality of our life.
True and meaningful intimacy is always based on a foundation of two romantic partners who allow each other into the inner depths of who they really are: Into me, see. Still, many of us choose to hide behind a façade of who we aren't because we are so afraid to let our partner know who we really are. We are sure that if he or she would get to know the real us, they would reject us. What we have learned in our own relationship, and in the last few decades of providing relationship counseling to the couples we work with, is how damaging it is when a partner masquerades through the romance wearing an emotional suit of armor. It may feel safe to the partner locked up in there, but we cannot get in to love them, nor have we been able to figure out a way to receive any love from them either.