281-812-7529
A group of independent counselors serving Kingwood and Houston
Specializing in Gottman MethodTM Couples and Marriage Counseling

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Holiday Traditions Create Shared Meaning

Tuesday, December 11th, 2018

Families are gearing up to celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanza and the many other winter holidays that are upon us.  While this can be a stressful time, it can also be a joyous time of family connection. How each family celebrates is unique.

The other day I was culling out photos from my phone.  I came across a photo of my dad taken in the late-1960s and was instantly flooded with memories.  In the photo he was painting two reindeer that would grace our front porch at Christmastime for decades to come. Those reindeer, along with a Santa, are a cherished family tradition.

Even though my parents have passed, my brother and his family have ensured that the traditions we had as children live on.  Christmas Eve wouldn’t be Christmas Eve without a blending of my mother’s Czechoslovakian family recipes and a variety of fish to honor my father’s Italian heritage. The food is fattening, but anything short of these traditions would simply feel wrong.  We happily indulge in the extra calories and complain about how miserable we feel afterwards.  That too, is part of the tradition.

Rituals and traditions bind people together because they can be counted on.  We know what will happen, what to expect.  Traditions make us feel a part of something bigger, creating a sense of safety and emotion connection.

When couples join together they often have to compromise and blend their family traditions, creating a new and unique culture.  By doing so it becomes part of their shared meaning.

Examine Your Rituals

The holiday season is the perfect time to examine your rituals and traditions.  You may have more than you realize.

Do you have special ornaments to place on the Christmas tree?

Do you have a ritual for lighting the Menorah candles?

What holiday foods are special for your family?

Do you watch your favorite Christmas shows?

Do you decorate gingerbread houses?

Do you go see a live performance of The Nutcracker?

Do you have an Elf on the Shelf?

Sharing the tradition and the story that goes along with it is important.  This holiday season, as you pull the boxes from the attic or dust off the old recipe cards, take a moment and share the story of these rituals with your loved ones.  Help the tradition live on.

 

Is My Relationship Real??? Am I Watering a Fake Plant???

Monday, November 7th, 2011

A few months ago I received a lovely orchid as a gift.  Notoriously I kill plants by either overwatering or neglect. My orchid was so beautiful I really wanted to change my losing streak with houseplants, so I carefully followed the instructions provided  . . . . until I was out of town for a few days.

I then fell into my usual pattern of neglect.  I left it in a dark room, dry as a bone.  When I  returned I fully expected to find a wilting plant with falling flowers.  But much to my surprise my orchid looked the same.  I began to wonder, “Is this real  or fake?  How could it possibly look the same?”

I pondered my orchid dilemma and was amused how it is a metaphor that could be used in relationships.

When we enter into a new relationship we put our best foot forward.  If we really want a relationship to work out, we try to change our old bad habits that get us in trouble.  I nurtured my plant like it was a new relationship.

But just like with my plant, true behaviors eventually emerge in relationships.  I am toxic when it comes to my relationship with houseplants.  I was showing my plant my true self and it was accepting my bad behavior.  I didn’t know if I should believe my plants great capacity for tolerating my abuse or dismiss it as a fake.

I leaned towards  the former . . . I really wanted my plant to be alive, even though I seriously  doubted what was happening.  Sometimes we do this in relationships.  We don’t clearly see what’s actually happening, only what we want to see happening.

Sometimes we nurture things that aren’t real.  Sometimes we water fake plants.

But I couldn’t get the thought out of my head that my plant might not be real.  I decided to risk embarrassment and ask a friend what she thought.

Like a good girlfriend would, she listened to my story, examined my plant herself and offered a solution.  She suggested breaking a piece off of one of the leaves to see what would happen.  I was horrified that she wanted to desecrate my beautiful plant.  It was as if she told me to break off my relationship because it wasn’t real.

I knew she was right, but I wasn’t ready for the truth.  I decided it was better to live with not knowing and continued to nurture my plant as if it were real.  Not wanting to know the truth is really denial and my denial was powerful. I kept watering, not knowing, and not particularly caring what others thought.

I have now had my relationship with my new plant for two months.  I have exposed my true self to my plant.  Initially it was accepting and tolerant, some may even say it acted a bit codependent.

But lo and behold, my plant is starting to show signs of being a victim.  Just a few days ago I noticed one of the petals looked a little wilted.  It took two more days for the petal to fall off and for me to believe what was really happening.

But when it did I smiled with amusement for I knew my denial was over.  My plant was finally showing its true nature in our relationship.  I am being forced to deal with the truth and  it’s a little painful.

In counseling we work on accepting and dealing with what is truly in front of us.  No denial, no faking.  Once the truth is revealed to us, it’s up to us to accept what is really happening and take action, even if it is painful.

As for me and my plant, it’s time for me to accept my flaws and get some professional help.  As for you and your relationships, ask yourself if you are watering a fake plant.

 


Couples Counseling and Psychotherapy Associates provides service to Kingwood, Humble, Atascocita, Porter, Fall Creek, Summerwood, North Houston and surrounding areas.

Couples Counseling & Psychotherapy Associates

2330 Timber Shadows Drive
Suite 106
Kingwood, Texas 77339
Ph: 281-812-7529

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