The holidays are just around the corner and many people stress so much about buying presents for their loved ones that they lose touch with the actual meaning of the holidays. It is a special time to be spent with those you love, pausing from everyday stress, enjoying the moment and the atmosphere.

We are all looking for the perfect gift for our loved ones. The biggest gifts you can give to each other during this holiday season are love, attention and gratitude. Spending quality time together, snuggling on a couch and listening to each other will enhance your relationship. Tell each other how grateful you are for being in each others lives and what you really value and appreciate about your relationship. Appreciating just some of the little things about your relationship will make the difference to your partner. Showing positivity will make your partner happy and it will reflect on your relationship.

Tell each other about your unfilled dreams and make a plan to make them happen. Everyone has some kind of dream and together you can make it happen. Ask each other what kind of traditions you had growing up and what you liked (or didn’t like) about them and come up with something which will be unique to your family. It could be something as simple as going to the Christmas Market together just before Christmas. According to Dr. John Gottman, making life dreams come true and creating shared meaning are the sixth and seventh principles of The Sound Relationship House, which connects couples on a much deeper level and makes the relationship stable, happy and successful.

Try to do something different during these holidays. Go out of your way for your partner and show them that you really care about them. It does not necessarily have to be something big and materialistic, but rather something small and extraordinary. Everyone loves surprises. You know your partner well enough to know what will surprise him/her. Be creative.

Take a long walk together in the forest or outdoors and hold each others hands. Make sure you leave your phone at home and just enjoy the nature and your partner’s company. A walk in nature shows positive benefits on the human mind which will also positively effect your relationship.

If you have children, include them in some of your walks and make sure they will see you holding hands. Modeling your relationship will have a positive impact on your children as you are the first role models for a relationship. Include them in your conversations and teach them about gratitude and appreciation. Ask them questions and listen to them and what they will say. If your children are a little bit older, ask them questions about what they really love about the holidays (besides their Christmas gifts) and what they like about spending family time together. Make your children think. Ask them what they wish you, as a family, would do more often and make it happen. Come up together with some ritual, or a unique family tradition. For example, playing your children’s favorite board game, or baking Christmas cookies to make it a family fun night. This will create special memories for your children and when they grow up they might continue with them with their own family.

The more you express your gratitude during this holidays the more happy you will feel in your relationship and your family will be empowered. Gratitude is contagious and it grows in you and others and it can start growing in your children too. Enjoy your Holidays!

Gottman John. (2000). The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work: A Practical Guide from the Country’s Foremost Relationship Expert. Harmony Books 


  • Katerina Fager

    Chicago Marriage and Family Therapist, Divorce Mediator and Author

    Katerina Fager is a Marriage and Family Therapist, Divorce Mediator and Author of How To Communicate And Co-Parent With Your Ex-Partner After A Divorce in the new book Stress-Free Divorce Volume 3. Katerina is specializing in Couples Therapy and completed Level 3 Clinical Training in Gottman Method Couples Therapy and uses Gottman Method in her work with clients. Katerina likes to motivate people to live better and more fulfilled lives. She contributes daily to her Facebook blog Therapy with Katerina Fager.