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Family stress for the holidays

I would like to ask everyone to lower your expectations of being  ‘one big happy family’ during the holiday  (Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, and New Years). These high expectations can kill relationships at holiday gatherings.  It is essential to not force closeness.

The time you spend with your family and friends should be natural, not forced. To that end, follow the tips below to make it through the upcoming holidays.

  1. Have activities planned. The Nintendo Wii is the perfect example – families can communicate and be active, but still, minimize expectations of intimacy
  2. Stay away from heavy topics such as politics and other hot-button issues.
  3. Keep things light – avoid confrontation.
  4. For people that have had a previous falling out with a family member, call ahead to smooth things over a few weeks before the family event, and don’t discuss it at the event.
  5. Call ahead if you look forward to particular food and offer to bring it. Remind your family of the ritual of your favorite dish!
  6. If you come from a chaotic, dysfunctional family keep visits short and stay at a hotel.
  7. When possible host holiday gatherings on your own turf so you have control – and don’t offer your home up for people to stay there.
  8. Everything in balance to avoid arguments. Remember: drinking and sugary holiday goodies can lead people to be more argumentative.
  9. You don’t have to be superwoman or man. It’s OK to ask for help before or hire help. Hosts should talk about the expectations and agenda with their partner and kids so everyone’s clear on the role that they’ll play.
  10. Tell people what to bring to minimize cost or duplicates on the part of the host.
  11. Remember: Different strokes for different folks – ask people to bring movies that they like, and even extra DVD players to mitigate argument and conflict.
  12. If Aunt Edie brings her favorite inedible cake, tell her it’s so special you want to freeze and save for the new year (so you don’t have to serve it). Same with a non-drinkable bottle of wine.

Here is to finding and keeping real love!

Dr. Bonnie Eaker-Weil (Dr. Bonnie) is a relationship expert known as one of America’s best therapists, and by New York Magazine as one of New York City’s best therapists.  US Commerce Association voted Dr. Bonnie Best Therapist 2011-2017.

Known as “The Adultery Buster” and the “No. 1 Love Expert,” she is the best-selling author of Adultery: The Forgivable Sin (adapted into a Lifetime movie starring actress Kate Jackson), Make Up, Don’t Break Up: Finding and Keeping Love for Singles and CouplesCan We Cure and Forgive Adultery?, Staying Not Straying, How Not to (S)mother Your Man and Keep a Woman Happy, and Financial Infidelity; The #1 Relationship Wrecker.


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