So, how’s that quarantined, hunkered down, “stay-at-home” Christmas Season going? After 10 months of unprecedented togetherness what would you say about your relationship? (oh, yeah, and how’s that home schooling going?) This has been a trying time to be sure. For many, its also been a time of growth, new found closeness, and the opportunity to bond in new and satisfying ways. What has been the determining factor of your relationship experience? Has this been a time that will become a cherished memory or a dark and discouraging year you will try to forget? For the vast majority of couples an accounting of this year will include many examples of both. It has been difficult not to focus on what we don’t have: opportunities to visit with family, travel, shop without fear, go out to eat and drink with friends, and perhaps even go to our daily workplace or school. Tragically, in all too many cases the year has included great loss—family members and friends we loved, challenging financial straits, and many lost opportunities for ourselves and our children. How you choose to deal with this real loss and how you choose to deal with the genuine bright spots— the unexpected joys and advantages this opportunity for closeness has produced— will absolutely determine what 2021 will be like for you.

No one believes that after January everything will be back to normal. It will likely takes months for the world to even approach the freedom and confidence we felt before this pandemic befell us. No doubt, the presence of hope of increasing evidence that this will end eventually — will mitigate some of the depression and despair. Don’t be tempted to “wait for change before we express gratitude and joy”. Cling steadfastly to whatever sense of peace you can muster. Equanimity (mental calmness, evenness, self-control in the face of difficult circumstances) is a skill we should all strive to develop.

The Christmas/Hanukkah Season provides us all with a wonderful time for the embrace of peace, joy, forgiveness, and thankfulness—regardless of our religious beliefs. The desire of peace, security, and happiness is basic to all human beings. Have you made a “Wish List” this year for presents? This is a wonderful time to make a list of AFFIRMATIONS of what you DO have, not what you don’t have. Literally writing down the things because of which your heart overflows with gratitude is not just a new-age or psychotherapeutic exercise. It opens your very being to joy, kindness, and a rich appreciation of all that you have. Relationships strained by enforced togetherness are particularly in need of a “reset” today. The minor abrasions of annoying habits, those times the generalized unhappiness of the world got transferred directly towards each other, and the misery of circumstances that caused one or both of you to even question the value of your relationship can all be dissolved by the conscious decision not to replay and cling to those events.

Instead, begin today to focus on the positive qualities of your partner—their innate goodness, competencies, talents, and the occasions when they brought you happiness. Considering even their good intentions—not always completed or fulfilled—can  begin the process of healing to a battered and exhausted relationship. JOY TO THE WORLD—this trial is going to come to an end……..but DON’T WAIT until that happens to begin focusing on joy and expressing that warmth and love to your partner, your family and friends, and to the world.

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WELCOME TO PATHWAYS TO INTIMACY QUICK TEST

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1. Do you sometimes wish your relationship today could be more like it was when it first began?
2. Are some subjects too difficult to discuss and often lead to conflict?
3. Do either of you wish you knew more about your partner’s feelings and desires?
4. Are both of you certain that either of you is expressing love in a way that makes the other feel absolutely fulfilled?
5. Have either of you ever felt that sex and intimacy should be easier and less challenging?