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Kelley Whitis Headshot

Buy a Present or Be Present?

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I hear so many people during the holidays asking, "What should I get him? I don't know what to buy her. What's a good gift to get my boyfriend/girlfriend/spouse?"

It's easy to become persuaded by the glossy ads and slick commercials that tell us we should buy this brand of jeans or this jacket or that diamond ring or that handbag to show our love to someone.

If you really want to show your love to someone, be your authentic self and show up in the relationship. It's as simple as that.

Showing up means we are present and when we are present, we are able to validate that the other person matters. And that's really all we want in this world. To matter to someone. To be important to another person. To be seen and heard. To love and be loved. To be validated.

Validation simply means recognizing your partner's feelings as a part of their individual life experience. It is not the same as agreeing with your partner.

We run into problems in our relationships when we invalidate our partner's emotions with responses like:

"How can you say we don't spend enough time together when we've already gone out twice this week?"

"That shouldn't make you mad. It could be worse."

"Why do you always cry over small stuff?"

"Quit telling me what to do."

"Why can't you just be happy?"

Something that is hurtful to your boyfriend or husband may not be hurtful to you and vice versa. Look behind the complaint for the feeling. Being in the moment allows us to see our partner's world from their eyes. Mindful listening, accepting and asking questions show that we care.

And this pertains to more than just the times when we are upset, angry or sad. It's for times of excitement and joy as well.

Has your man ever come home from watching the game with the boys and he is all pumped up because his team won and you simply dismiss it with "I wish you got that excited last Friday when we went out to dinner."

What you are saying to him is "I don't really care that you care that much about football." So he will be less and less inclined to share things with you that he cares about because you are basically telling him "I don't care what you care about." Instead share in his celebration and watch how he reacts differently.

Or have you ever shared with your guy that you were over the moon excited because the shoes you have been wanting went on sale? What if instead of forcing a smile or uttering a "that's nice," he responded with "I know how you love a good deal, did you get them already?" Now he's relaying that he understands these shoes going on sale is exciting to you.

All relationships are platforms for us to heal issues we hold on to. Unconsciously we draw different people into our lives to show us what parts of ourselves we need to heal. By understanding this, we can reprogram ourselves to be present, allow and accept, and really show up in the relationship instead of being defensive or invalidating the other.

I'm not saying don't buy a gift for your loved one this holiday season, I'm saying the most important present you can ever give someone is to simply be present. Listen when she needs to vent. Support him when he needs it most. Celebrate life's joyous moments together. I think Mariah says it best when she sings, "All I want for Christmas is you!"