There are lots of extra challenges in many households this time of year – but there is opportunity for growth and love, too. Here’s my idea to make this year’s holiday season happier and easier – seek and celebrate the gifts you already have.
Yes, it’s a tough year economically, but being cheap isn’t why I make this recommendation. Rather, it’s because I think the gift of feeling warmer towards each other by celebrating what you give to each other and who you are is the most precious gift we can give to each other. So what if it doesn’t cost money?!
So I started asking myself – what are the gifts that my husband gives me in our relationship that I can celebrate? What gifts do I give him? As soon as I started thinking this way these gifts started to show themselves. And, as you might expect, as I started contemplating his gifts to me more, my feelings about him became more positive (yes, I know, we are in a positive place right now in any event, but try this out and you’ll see what I mean.)
Here are some examples of the gifts I found:
This morning – I asked if my husband would make me a shot of coffee, not realizing it was my daughter banging around in the kitchen, not him. He said “sure, I’d be happy to,” interrupted what he was doing and made me coffee. When I told him “I think it’s a nice gift that you give me to take care of me by making me coffee in the morning” he laughed and said “and I think it’s a nice gift you give me to grind the coffee, because I don’t like to.” I had been thinking of grinding coffee as a way to stay organized, not as a gift…hmmm – the exchange made us both feel good.
This last Sunday he spent his entire day loading software onto two computers – mine and my daughter’s. By the end of the day he was pretty cranky about it, to be honest, and prickly to be around. I reminded him that he had chosen to use his day that way and he responded “I wanted to get the computers ready for Kat since she’s home now, and you need yours redone” but remained cranky. The next day I went to my machine to work only to discover that he had neglected to move over my files. This wasn’t an emergency (I could plug in the old computer if I needed it) but it certainly was inconvenient! Where is the “gift” in this situation, I wondered?
Then I found it. The gift is that his first instinct is to “do” for others and help them out, particularly in the areas he loves – computers and bikes - and for the people he loves. I benefit every day from his “giving” to me of his technical prowess, as he runs this website. If I had to pick between having my new machine perfect at the outset or having a husband whose primary instinct is to give to others, I know which I would pick. Instant perspective.
This perspective can be hard to find when you are in the midst of the anger and frustration that a difficult ADHD relationship can bring, not to mention the logistical nightmares of the holidays. But it’s worth seeking, none the less. We each give gifts (and have gifts) everyday that deserve to be appreciated – even in hard times. Seeking out those gifts, and celebrating them, is an action of love for both yourself and your spouse. And the greater connection you may feel towards your spouse may well make your holidays happier and easier, too.
One last thought on this – tell your partner what you are doing. You increase the chances that he or she will notice your appreciation. And perhaps your partner will try it out, too.