Walking on egg shells, might be a good analogy for how some of us might feel at family reunions, whether it be thanksgiving or Christmas. With my last article in mind (Halle’s Thanksgiving Bash) let’s look at some ways that we can promote a healthier environment for our families at such tense times. After all they are our loved ones! The holidays can be stressful on everyone, and often unfairly hard on a woman, rightly or wrongly they are often under the spotlight especially from the partner’s family. Mum’s, wives and girlfriends can suddenly find themselves in the middle a world wind of activity, so it’s important not to forget for us guys to pull our weight too. It should be an opportunity to cement your relationship, rather than straining it.
Small talk, are safe subjects we bring up so we don’t get into fights with people we hardly know.In fact we often nicer to people we hardly know, than to the people we grew up with, shared bedrooms with. I’m not saying we should sit around talking about the weather, or whether the ducks have flown south for the winter, but we could certainly go some ways to avoid sensitive topics. Make a mental list of what they are, although you probably know what they are already – money, inheritance, politics, religion, health issues, wars or perhaps even fantasy football. Just don’t go there!
Do something that will bring you together, a game or a sport – I’m not talking about full contact sports in the living room. Watch a movie, talk about the good times, watch a sports game or even pick up a board game. Head off to the back garden, to a park kick, or throw a ball around. At holiday times, money can be a sensitive topic, so focus on the things you can do together. There are plenty of things you can do that won’t deepen your sense of stress, or fire feelings of inadequacy, or agitate emotional conflict.
There’s been times in my own family, where my sister’s haven’t got on, or times when individual have expressed poor judgment with money, or other things. Whether feelings spring from jealous, or just personality clashes, it’s worth giving everyone a heads up on who’s coming, changes in the arrangements. It’s worth even sitting down with some members of your family, before hand to ask them to be on their best behavior. Nobody likes bad news or trouble, but if you know or talk about sticking points as early as possible, then at least people are prepared.
It’s good to have a game plan. Ready yourself for mentally and physically for an extended period of time with your family. I still remember my Mother (a beautiful woman, a very talented lady) working days ahead of family events, with the help of my Dad. Planning and preparation, can be dull, just the logistics of planning a family day can overwhelming for anyone one person. But it should been seen as chance to get involved, showing that support and love. This will go a long way to minimize potential stress and conflict at family reunions. Whatever you do, don’t leave things to the last minute, make sure you’re not freaking out when the family day or period arrives.
Last of all “don’t push it”, by this I mean don’t force issues. Give people time and space to work things over naturally. Don’t expect people who really don’t get on, to sit down next to each other and enjoy a beer while chatting happily. It’s important to remember who the peace makers are, who the inflexible people are, some individual even thrive on bickering and if you have one in your family then you know exactly what I mean.
Family reunions can be demanding to say the least, but when it’s all done and the dust settles, it’s probably time to go back to work. On the plus side this gives you enough time to think about the woman you love and time to plan your next vacation, hopefully far away from the family.
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