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Enriching Your Life!

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Archive - Enriching Your Life Newsletter

Surviving Your Relatives During the Holidays

Wednesday, November 01, 2000


The following is an excerpt of an article by Nancy Haught printed in the November 23, 2000 issue of The Oregonian that I thought would be helpful this time of year.

If your family gatherings consist of the same old pitfalls year after year, ask someone to pull you out or keep you from falling into them in the first place says Kathy J. Marshack, who practices psychology in Portland and Vancouver, Wash.

Maybe it’s your spouse, or your date, a cousin or a friend. Talk to him or her in advance about when and how you might need to be rescued. Agree on a signal that means, “Come and suggest I take a walk with you, or tell me I’m needed in the kitchen.”

Give yourself a break. As the celebration unfolds, take a time-out or two, Marshack says. An entire day or even an afternoon is a long time to interact with family in a confined space.

Volunteer to run to the store for whipping cream or to walk the dog. Getting out of the house for a little fresh air can renew your spirit for another stint ‘inside.’

Don’t drink too much. Drinking reduces inhibitions, and you might say things you’ll regret later. By the same token, don’t assume that someone else who has been drinking means everything he or she says, Marshack warns. “It’s not fair to hold them to that stuff. Their brain neurons are misfiring; they’re not saying things that are really accurate.”

If, on the other hand, you suspect that the buttery chardonnay served with dinner is acting like truth serum on some of your more mean-spirited relatives, why not let it roll off your back, just this once, just for today?

Practice generosity. Adopt a tolerant, even indulgent attitude toward your relatives’ quirks. “Realize that people mean well,” Marshack says, “that deep down inside, they are doing their best.”

Maybe this holiday season, the best gift you can give is the benefit of the doubt.

HOW TO REMARRY


Remarriage following a divorce can be a challenge but it can work! First, prospective remarriage partners should build a relationship slowly, getting to know each other together and as individuals. Listen to family and friends who know who you are. They knew you married, their impressions are important. Remember to use your second marriage to become a better partner yourself. Usually the opportunity for conflict and disappointment is increased in second marriages because the challenges are greater. So you need to learn to love the complexity. You or your partner might be grieving over the loss of your prior relationship. Vent your grief as a way to defuse anger. Take a joint exploration of your previous relationships and understand your history. If necessary consider seeking help from a marriage and family therapist.

On-line consultation is now available on our website, www.kmarshack.com.

For more information about Kathy J. Marshack, Ph.D., P.S. and her work as a marriage and family therapist, family/business consultant, author, columnist, seminar leader and on-line consultant go to her web site www.kmarshack.com. You’ll find self-help tips, a library of family business articles, information on on-line consultation and much more.