Oh, the joys and pitfalls of the workplace Christmas party. Do you go to yours? If you’re in a relationship, I’m wondering how you feel about your spouse’s Christmas party. Some don’t include partners, so do you happily send them off awaiting their tipple topple return wearing their best Christmas sweater rashie in the wee hours? Do you become anxious about the rum-fuelled possibilities that may have caused much angst last year when you had no idea where they were? Is the busty, blonde bombshell your boyfriend sits next to each day going to be there this year? What about that muscular guy from the sales department who seems all too caring and chatty with your partner? It comes up all too frequently in relationship counselling. While it would be fabulous if the Christmas season could be a time of calm, connectedness and reflection, it often spirals into some sort of tangled string of festive flashing chaos of lights doused with alcohol. Thanks to your local friendly relationship specialist, I’m here to support you through what can be a fearfully unwelcome phase of unrest. Here is your “festive insurance plan” to ensure you continue to remain in joyous jingle bell tune with your partner: Be E.T: Phone home. Obvious, I know, but regularly dial your partner and let them know you thought of them these coming weeks. It’s likely you think of them frequently during your day, so tell them. Alternatively, use all those tricky apps on your phone to forward a funny pic, emoji or a simple text. Amp up the contact like no other month in your year to stay in sync. Anticipate worry: You might not want to interrupt your fabulous time at barefoot bowls in your Santa hat and green fishnet stockings, but have you updated home base? How do they know for sure you haven’t been kidnapped by Santa’s elves or got stuck in a chimney? Are there colleagues of concern that either of you needs to be reassured about? If you’re both at an event you can regularly convey some attentiveness with a quick pat and a chat. Trust: Do you need to be reminded of the solid foundation of trust upon which your relationship is built? Consider if you’ve ever had cause for concern, not to trust your partner. Could it be a hang-up from previous relationships or family of origin? Use questions for closeness: Build on your “love map” as you journey through the month of Christmas with such topics as: What about this relationship brings you the most joy? Name the best gift I’ve ever bought you. How can I be a gift to you this Christmas season? (I can’t wait to hear of the answers you’ll get for this one.) In summary, be regularly present with even a few minutes of time with your partner among all the distractions of screens, places to be and things to buy. Use these moments to engage with deeper questions for closeness. Be open to the possibilities of their responses and gift them with emotional attentiveness. Communicate your faith in the relationship and have a jolly good time.
Joanne is a neuro-psychotherapist and relationship specialist at The Confidante Counselling. Email [email protected]confidante counselling.com or visit www.theconfidante counselling.com