• Five Steps to a Peaceful Holiday Season – Extended Family

    Halloween is just a couple of days away. The stores are already poised with their Christmas decorations, at least the ones who have not had them up for weeks or months already. Besides too much candy, planning for company, thinking about food – fixing it or just eating it, many people are also worried about the visits with the extended family. Maybe you are someone who is secretly worried about another holiday with your spouse’s family, your own, or both. Maybe you and your spouse are already talking about it. Maybe you and your spouse are already fighting about it. Maybe you would just like Thanksgiving, Christmas, and everything in between to be more peaceful and joyful, especially with your beloved.

    A five step process for a more creating a peaceful and joyful season:

    1. Spend some time in alone in prayer, or when you can be alone with your thoughts, considering what your thoughts and feelings are about the season. Write them down if that is helpful. The point of this is to be aware of what is going on inside of you. Do this more than once in order to get a sense of the various movements happening when you turn your attention to the topic of the holidays.
    2. Again, in prayer, or in other quiet time, consider if these various movements, these thoughts and feelings, are valid and realistic, or if they are imaginings about the worst case scenario.
    3. If you find valid concerns talk with your spouse at a time when you are both well rested, well fed, not distracted, not rushed, and you feel you can approach the topic calmly and kindly. Present your concerns in a non-judgmental, non-accusatory, gentle, way.
    4. Listen attentively, patiently, non-defensively, without interrupting, to what your spouse has to say. He or she has some thoughts and feelings of their own, and he or she probably also has some good ideas about the situation!
    5. Make a plan that is acceptable and doable for both of you, and your immediate family. Remember that your marriage is your primary vocation so what works for you and your spouse is the priority.
    6. Repeat this process as necessary.

    Sometimes even these simple steps can feel difficult if you are not communicating well, or worse. That is when it may be time to talk with a marriage-friendly, trained marriage therapist. Feel free to reach out to me if you and your spouse feel stuck and one or both of you is dreading another holiday season.

    Happy Halloween!

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