Life & Style Weekend - - WELCOME - WORDS: JOANNE WIL­SON .......................

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 coun­ or visit www.the­con­fi­dante coun­

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