Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Holiday Family Stress and Tension

It is far from the truth that families really like each other. Not all conversation and relationships are loving, easy and nurturing.

Family stress and differences affect celebrations and make holiday gatherings difficult in many families. In-laws that you may not particularly care for, relatives that you do not see often or know well, and changes in families because of separation, divorce or new partners can lead to unease and difficult times.
Planning ahead can help. “Forewarned is forearmed“, as the old saying goes.

Think ahead about the gatherings and imagine how they may go. Visualize the “best case scenarios” and the “worse case scenarios”. Set realistic expectations for them. Talk, plan and strategize with those you love most about how to help and support each other if things get difficult.

Here are a few other suggestions to consider as you plan for family holiday events.

Are you the host or hostess?

If you are the one who is in charge, you can have some control over the situation. Here are some ideas to make the experience the best that it can be.

1. Brush up on your own communication and conflict resolution skills. Find ways to keep your own cool. Learn some words and phrases to use that might ease tension. You will have to think of ones that fit your specific family situation and might include something like:

“We are all different in our ideas. Let’s not try to convince each other to change his or her thinking on this special day. We only see each other a few times a year. Let’s create good memories and appreciate what we do have in common and like about each other.” Then quickly offer a new idea for the conversation.

2. Take leadership before and during the event and set a positive tone.

 Plan some kind of an activity or conversation starters.
 Gather old family photos and get people to share stories. Keep the conversation light and find ways to reminisce about happy times.
 Interview the oldest generation about their childhood memories.
 Play a family trivia game.
 Be creative as you think up ways to keep the conversation headed in a good direction.
 We plan to turn our old videos to dvds for each family and watch a little old time television. We hope that all of the generations will get a smile from some of the clips of our childhood.


3. Enlist a few other trusted relatives as your aides to keep the conversation flowing in a good direction and deflect tension and stress.

4. Remember, when people talk about themselves, they generally feel appreciated and this might help them to be more positive with others. Spend time, or get one of your co-conspirators to spend time, with those relatives who might be more critical or difficult. Help them to feel special by showing interest in what is going on with them and in their life.


Will you attend rather than host events?

1. Find small messages to say to yourself to remember that you are okay and that winning an argument or “putting someone in their place” is not healthy for you in the long run.

2. Take leadership in your actions and your responses. Promise yourself that you will not get into arguments or take negative responses personally. (Is it more important to have family harmony or to win an argument?)

3. If there are relatives that bother or irritate you, find ways to politely avoid them. You don’t have to hang out with people that you do not like and with whom you do not get along.

4. Avoid divisive subjects. Find ways to change the discussion or even leave the room. This is not a time to solve the world problems or dissect the latest election.

5. Be positive and complimentary whenever you can. Don’t make things up, be realistic; however, remember that positivity breeds positivity and it may lead to a friendlier atmosphere for the family.

6. Stand up for your spouse or children with your own family. If another family member makes a disparaging remark, calmly but directly, let them know that it is not okay with you to talk or treat your family in that way. If at all possible, try not to get into a prolonged confrontation where apologies are demanded, often that leads to more conflict. If you need to, find a way to leave the gathering early.

7. Limit alcohol … or just don’t drink at all. You want to be able to leave the party with dignity and remember the positive ways that you handled yourself.

Remember, this is only for a short period of time. You do not have to remain forever. It will be over and you can go back to your safe, comfortable surroundings with those who love and respect you and share your ideas and values.

You can create a positive or an acceptable time for yourself. You don’t have to let negativity and family tension overwhelm you. Stay in charge of your thoughts and your “buttons”. You cannot control what others say or do, you can be in charge of how you see, react or respond.














Thursday, June 25, 2015

4 Ways to Put the Fireworks Back in Your Relationship

The 4th of July is a day to celebrate our independence with parties and fireworks. Let this be a chance to you to look for ways to put some sizzle back in your relationship.
We offer you 4 tips to put the fireworks back in your relationship.

1. Try something new and different. Experiment. Take a few risks. Go outside your comfort zone. Notice the feeling of an ”edge” and the accomplishment of doing it together.

2. Flirt. Look deeply into each other’s eyes for a full 5 minutes without touching. Act like you are meeting for the first time and getting to know each other all over again.

3. Heat up the loving exchanges. How do you feel about sexting? This can be a good thing with your spouse.

4. Start dating again. Recreate some of your favorite early dates and look for new opportunities to dress up (or down) and be together. Put the technology away and focus on your time with each other.

CouplesCounselingofLouisville.com


Thursday, May 7, 2015

7 Things That Men Wished Their Women Knew About Them

1. Men like to be touched, hugged and kissed and it doesn’t have to always lead to sex.
While many men may seem to have a higher libido than many women, most men really do appreciate simple positive physical touch.

2. Men like it when their partner is a playmate.

Companionship is very important to men and they especially appreciate women who will stretch themselves and learn to enjoy some of the things that they enjoy.

3. Men like to feel needed.

While men may appreciate a woman who is independent and not needy, they also want to feel needed by her and in her life.

4. Men like to be appreciated and to have words of affirmation and appreciation.

Efforts that are made and are noticed and acknowledged go a long way with anyone, and especially with men. Recognizing, thanking and affirming positive acts and efforts will go a long way.

5. Men like and need respect
Men are okay with disagreements if handled respectfully. Men want to know that their wives talk to and about them in respectful and loving ways. Men want to feel their wives respect even if they have a complaint about them or their marriage.

6. Men need women to recognize that nagging is not motivating.

Women need to recognize when their requests turn to nagging and find a different way to discuss the problem or the issue in a calm and respectful way. There are a lot of reasons why men may not do what women request. Finding out the answer is a quicker way to have needs met.

7. Men like women to have their back.

Men need to feel that their women are on their side with others in life. They want to know that their partner will stand up for him with family and friends. Men really don’t need a “devil’s advocate”, they need someone who is on their side and supports them through life.


Thursday, April 23, 2015

Tip of the Week

"Love knows no reasons, love knows no lies. Love defies all reasons, love has no eyes. But love is not blind. Love sees but does not mind."

~Hemant Kumar

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Five Ways to Avoid Divorce

Here are some strategies that you can do to avoid divorce. It is, of course, best if both halves of a couple are working in the same direction; however, one person can make a change on their own and take steps to avoid divorce.

1. Take responsibility for being a good partner.

You cannot change another person, you can only change yourself. If you change, your spouse will change in response. Hang in there as it may take a while to see the change you would like to see and avoid divorce.

2. Communicate!

No one can read your mind. Even if you feel like you have said it many times, say it, lovingly, again.
If you are pleased and happy, be sure to talk about that. (A great way to avoid divorce.) If you are hurt, disappointed or angry, you probably need to talk about that as well. Holding negative feelings and thoughts or trying to sweep them away, is generally not healthy for a relationship. It is also entirely possible that you might also be wrong.

3. Try new things.
Have new experiences. Go on new walks. Check out different restaurants. Create interest rather than the boring same old, same old.

4. Learn how to disagree and resolve conflict.

This can be one of the hardest things for couples to learn in order to avoid divorce. All couples disagree. It is destructive to argue as well as to walk away from figuring out differences. Resolving conflict is a skill that can be learned.

5. Get help.

It is a sign of strength, rather than weakness, to ask for help with your relationship. Be careful who you ask; however, as friends or family may only hear your side of the situation and agree with you. This is generally not a good idea. Look for mentoring couples, people in healthy relationships and credible marriage and relationship counselors.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Tip of the Week

In the pursuit of knowledge,
every day something is added.
In the practice of the Way,
every day something is dropped.
Less and less do you need to force things,
until finally you arrive at non-action.
When nothing is done,
nothing is left undone.
Lao-tzu

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Resolving Conflict

So many of the couples that I see every week in my practice have a great deal of difficulty talking about differences and resolving conflict.
Some of the time, it is because it is hard to figure out how to talk about differences. Other times, it is because their partner is unwilling or unable to hang in with the conversation until they reach a place of resolving conflict.

Just this week, I have met with 3 couples where husbands have had an affair. In all three of those cases, the husbands were unhappy in their marriage and had serious concerns but chose to talk with a woman other their wife about their unhappiness. What a bad decision!

Each man blamed his wife for the problems in opening up and resolving conflict. Not one of them recognized his part in the decision to avoid conflict and turn, instead, to another woman.

Failure to resolve conflict leads to distance, disappointment and unhappiness in relationships. Men and women have to find ways to do their part in resolving conflict.

We have written several articles about resolving conflict on our website, CounselingRelationshipsOnline.com. Click here to read more about how you can become a better half of a partnership in resolving conflict.