Friday, January 20, 2017

Hibernate and Connect

Written by  Janan Broadbent, Ph.D.

Winter is the season all living beings including homo sapiens tend to mentally go into themselves and basically hibernate. It is a time of reflection and the physical body wants to hold on to all of its resources. Leftover from eons ago, our biological mechanisms conserve energies to get ready, in the spring, for another cycle of re-growth and new beginnings. So how do we handle our relationships within this framework?

Our connections do not survive on their own. Any plant will wither if you don’t nurture it, water it, and keep it in good light. Likewise, all relationships need to be nurtured. Think of how many hours you spend each day at your job or main occupation. How much time do you devote to your significant other, to your family and friends? So, let’s take some time to think of how you reach out and strengthen the ties with those you care about. What do you do to let a person know you care about them? Do you in fact know what makes them feel loved? This is a question I ask couples: What makes your partner feel loved and how often do you do that? It is sad that many times, we do not take any chance to ask that question. We assume that it is giving flowers, or saying I love you, or that if we are doing chores, that that conveys our love. It may be that you are right. But it is also possible that there are small gestures and behaviors that do a lot more that we are not aware of. It is also true that each one of us has the responsibility to let the other know what those acts are. Many people want to hold hands. Do you like to do that? If so, does your partner know that? The conflict arises when you have made that clear and the partner ignores that wish. That is the time to check just how good your communication patterns are.

A friend just described how he moved 22 times in the first six years of his life. We have all come from different life circumstances. Some have had better and more stable family life; some had parents who loved them and some were abused. We bring all of that baggage into our relationships and expect that love will conquer all. It doesn’t. Perhaps in the honeymoon period, it looks fine but then, we should start the work of building up of the partnership, with good communication, willingness to compromise, and acceptance that none of us is perfect. Then too, life brings all kinds of challenges our way and to be able to meet them with a partner you can count on, is as close to happiness as I can imagine.

So while we deal with the cold weather and the trials and tribulations of winter, let us take time to huddle down, gather our supportive resources, enjoy the rest and get ready for the green shoots and optimism of spring.

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