Tips for Staying Connected with your Partner during the Holidays

If I were really honest, the TOP thing on my holiday wish would be to spend the coming month with minimum stress and maximum enjoyment and connection with the people who are MOST important to me. Yet each end-of-the-year presents great challenges, and I know I’m not alone.

Over the course of my 24 year-long partnership, and now that I work with couples, I’ve seen how very, very challenging it can be to accomplish the very thing we most want—CONNECTION—especially during the holidays. Perhaps the subconscious pressure we experience to make it special and meaningful, isn’t at all helpful.

So what I do now is to bring into my daily consciousness my top priority of staying connected with the people I love most. Being the international family we are, each year, we have “the conversation” about where to go and how to spend our two-week holiday break. There are particular steps I take to avoid some of the disconnecting conversations below and instead experience mutual understanding and connection.

A disconnecting conversation:


[This could easily turn into an argument if I continue to stay in “interpretation land” and believe the story that he doesn’t enjoy my family, etc.]

A more connecting conversation:


[Now that it’s settled where we’ll be, I move on to other issues on my mind. . .]

A disconnecting conversation:


A more connecting conversation:


Tips for connection

  1. Approach your partner with openness instead of expectations, or demanding energy
  2. Speak from your own personal feelings and longings before bringing up strategy ideas
  3. Listen to what’s going on for him/her (personal feelings and longings)
  4. Check your interpretations! “This is what I’m telling myself . . . is it true?”

My partner and I avoided the pain and agony of the above disconnecting conversations where strategy and interpretations play the leading roles. Instead, we focused first and foremost on what’s most important for each of us, our longings (dream/vision) for the holidays. Only when they were clear did we discuss strategy ideas, deciding on those that satisfied us both. Here’s one part of our exchange:


Here is the resulting matrix we posted above our family calendar, so that we can fill in our activities together:


By FIRST focusing on what’s most important to us, we could feel compassion and therefore encouraged to support each other in achieving our visions (i.e. find strategies that work for everyone). Going about it this way greatly enhances our ability to STAY IN CONNECTION!



Cara Crisler
Follow me