Thanksgiving can be a great time of year and is many people’s favorite holiday. But, unfortunately, I can also count on getting about ten new client requests on Thanksgiving or the following weekend. So here are seven things that commonly happen to hurt couples during this holiday.
- Not Being Fair About Where Time is Spent
Where to spend Thanksgiving is often a hot topic. Some people may not have extended family in town, and travel isn’t practical, effectively negating this concern. Others may have two sets of parents, and they must choose to see one. Perhaps one set is far away, and seeing them equally is not feasible. Regardless, both partners should be on the same page and happy or similarly unhappy with where they will spend Thanksgiving.
You know yourselves best. Some couples can use the holidays to let loose with drinking while remaining fun and in control. Unfortunately, sometimes alcohol intensifies the effects of anything going wrong during the holiday celebration. If alcohol has been a problem at holidays in the past, you may want to try and cut down or stop altogether.
- Drinking Too Much
You know yourselves best. Some couples can use the holidays to let loose with drinking while remaining fun and in control. Unfortunately, sometimes alcohol intensifies the effects of anything going wrong during the holiday celebration. If alcohol has been a problem at holidays in the past, you may want to try and cut down or abstain altogether for the day.
- Talking About Politics and/or Religion
There was a time when I enjoyed a good political or religious debate. Perhaps your family and friends can still have them. If you are like most people, though, religious and political issues are emotionally charged. Are you going to change the mind of your older relatives? Most people develop political and religious leanings as kids, and the confirmation bias causes us to look for sources that continue to confirm our biases. There is evidence that calcium deposits develop in the brain around neural pathways that lead us to these thoughts, making it difficult for any dog (especially an old dog, as these deposits grow and strengthen over time) to learn new tricks. These calcium deposits actually make our brains hurt when we consider new ideas, which is why sometimes proof and evidence don’t even matter. Is it worth bringing up the recent election, or if you don’t think your adult children are religious enough? People can be left-leaning without being communists and right-leaning without being Nazi’s (I would imagine very, very, very few people actually fall into either of these camps), but it is common for people on both sides to get emotional and use extreme words or only see one side.
- Not Siding With Your Partner
You may have extended family that doesn’t approve of, like, or has disagreements with your partner. It is essential to decide how you want to handle this in advance. The situation frequently presents itself with heterosexual partners where the mother-in-law criticizes the daughter-in-law, and the son sides with their mother. This is usually a recipe for disaster. If this or a similar situation comes up, you may want to decide in advance how to handle it. Perhaps the son can pretend to side with the mother, you both shake it off, and everything is fine. More than likely, you should be prepared to support your partner in family disputes.
- Giving Unsolicited Advice
Your grandmother may have cooked the turkey the same way for 50 years and doesn’t want to change now. Perhaps it’s the driest and most overcooked meat you’ve ever had, but unless you ask her opinion or know how she takes constructive criticism, you may want to eat more ham.
- Reacting Emotionally to Unsolicited Advice
If you are cooking or have children, there is a good chance you will receive unsolicited advice as well. If you are in the mood, you can try to take it in and see if you think it has validity. You can politely tell your parents that you appreciate the thought behind how they want you to raise the kids, but it’s your turn to make your own choices. You can also pretend to listen and ignore it on this day, saving time in the future for setting boundaries as to what advice you appreciate vs. would rather not hear.
- Showing Up Late
Everyone has a different relationship with time. For some people, noon means noon, and for others, it means 1:30. Know your host’s expectation of guests being on time. Trying to time serving all the food when it is hot can mean waiting for you is not an option.
And you may not have to worry about any of these things. Thanksgiving is a favorite holiday for many couples. Also, remember that this can be the start of a depressing time for those that are single. Consider inviting any single friends if they don’t have a place to go.
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