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Love & Marriage Love & Marriage

Ask the Expert: How to Keep Your Relationship Strong During Holiday Stress

Posted by on Nov. 10, 2010 at 1:53 PM
  • 15 Replies

Do you and your SO tend to fight more around the holidays? Do you have a hard time negotiating whose family to spend time with? Do you dread the upcoming holidays because it means you have to deal with your ex?

If you fit into any of these buckets, our new Ask the Expert program is for you! We are thrilled to welcome Dr. Jann Blackstone-Ford, a psychologist and expert in mediation, divorce, stepfamily issues, and break-ups, to the group to answer YOUR questions--about your relationship during the holidays and throughout the year.

Ask your questions now! Everyone who asks a question will be entered to win a copy of Dr. Jann's book, "Ex Etiquette for Parents." The more questions  you ask, the better your chances of winning the book.

Ask your questions as a reply to this post. Dr. Jann will post her replies to your questions here as well.

The Official Rules
To enter the this contest, reply to this post. Click on the 'reply to post' button at the top (or bottom) of that post. When the text box opens, add your reply. Once you've added your reply, click on the "Add Reply' button.

  • Posts must be made between Wednesday, November 10 at 1pm EST and Friday, November 19 at 5 pm EST. 
  • This contest will end on Friday, November 19 at 5 pm EST. 
  • One winner and two runners-up will be selected randomly.
  • The winner will be posted on this thread and will be notified via CafeMom PM.
  • Multiple replies are allowed and will increase  your chances of winning.
  • Prizes are only available to members who live in the US or Canada (excluding Quebec).
  • One winner will receive a copy of "Ex Etiquette for Parents" by Dr. Jann Blacktone-Ford.
by on Nov. 10, 2010 at 1:53 PM
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Replies (1-10):
jazi1105
by Jazi :) on Nov. 10, 2010 at 6:59 PM

My husband is completely negative during the holidays. He hates shopping, gift giving, the whole she-bang. I would love to have a good Christmas now that we're going to be parents(I'm ready to pop any day now). What would you suggest I do to get him more involved since this is going to be our first Christmas with a child?


ShannaBee
by on Nov. 11, 2010 at 12:59 PM
My question isn't a holiday related but a relationship complain. My husband is lazy and hardly ever helps around the house. He throws fits when I ask for his help. He lets maintanence problems escalate such as broken cabinets and plumbing. He doesn't pick up after himself. When I confront him he doesn't see a problem and thinks he equally pulls his weight around the house. He hardly ever does anything nice for me. I'm seven months pregnant and it's hard for me to do things. I have to beg him to rub my feet or back when I'm hurting and even when I beg he hardly does anything. When I ask him for a favor such as getting me a glass of water, he throws a fit because he doesn't want to. I do so many nice things for him and he never reciprocates. I fear once the baby is born I will be taking care of her on my own along with the housework. How can I handle a lazy husband? How can I get him to help out?
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kathy067j
by on Nov. 12, 2010 at 8:20 PM

 How can we cope on this christmas season  We are Empty Nesters two of our children moved out of state and our grandson who is one all lives in Michigan we are in Az. how can we both cope?

Dr.Jann
by on Nov. 15, 2010 at 11:25 AM

 

Quoting jazi1105:

My husband is completely negative during the holidays. He hates shopping, gift giving, the whole she-bang. I would love to have a good Christmas now that we're going to be parents(I'm ready to pop any day now). What would you suggest I do to get him more involved since this is going to be our first Christmas with a child?

Many who can't get into the Christmas spirit simply do not have good childhood memories of Christmas.  Their parents may have not had money for presents or they may have been divorced  and the child has memories of being shuttled between homes-there's lots of reasons why a kid may not like Christmas-and then those kids grow up to be Scrooge-like adults.  The best thing your husband and you can do at this point is start talking about and establishing your own Christmas traditions-for the sake of your family that you are now creating.  Decorate the tree just so or play certain songs on Christmas Eve.  Buy an ornament each year for your child, whatever you both decided to do, but start your family traditions  now so that your child will have pleasant Christmas memories and recreate them for his children.  (And, Dad will have pleasant Christmas memories as well)

Sometimes Dads have a difficult time getting enthused while their children are infants, but the first time his child's face brightens when the Christmas lights twinkle, Dad's enthusiasm will kick into gear.  Dad also has to understand that he (and you) create your child's Christmas memories and if you don't want to perpetuate the negative traditions of ba humbug, don't.  It's up to you.

Have to say, however, I hate the shopping, too, and there are now so many people in our family, we choose names and have a price ceiling on each present.  But, I LOVE sitting around with my family, watching the same old movies we watch every year, drinking hot cocoa, and teasing each other so much that we laugh until we cry.  That's our Christmas tradition that I look forward to each year-and it costs very little. 

Get Dad involved in the process so he doesn't feel like an outsider and he will be more enthusiastic about creating your family traditions-and ultimately about Christmas, 

Dr.Jann
by on Nov. 15, 2010 at 11:27 AM

 

Quoting kathy067j:

 How can we cope on this christmas season  We are Empty Nesters two of our children moved out of state and our grandson who is one all lives in Michigan we are in Az. how can we both cope?

First, be kind to yourself.  Life changes are hard-and this one in particular is quite difficult to face. 

Empty nesters have trouble coping because they don't know how to navigate the shift from nurturing others (their children) to nurturing themselves!   For years moms and dads have centered their lives around their kids-from diapers to homework to coaching or attending their children's extra curricular activities.  Then, like you, they have grandchildren and that grandchild becomes the center of their world-unless the children and grandchildren move away and then the empty nester is once again left to fend for him or herself.  It's often the first time an empty nester can put themselves first-and they don't know how after years of kid-centered considerations.  Depression, particularly around the holidays is quite common.

If you find that depression is getting the best of you, don't be afraid to reach out to others.  Confide in friends and other family members.  There are therapy groups specifically designed for empty nesters.  Ask your doctor, minister or therapist for help. 

Finally, The obvious answer for you in particular is to get on the first plane to Michigan, but in this economy, many do not have the luxury of traveling to visit relatives.  If you can't, look into something I often suggest to parents who travel or don't live with their children time-Skype.  Skype is a free computer program that allows you to see and talk to your loved ones over the computer in real time-anywhere in the world.  You can chat, share presents, even sing Christmas carols together via Skype.  You'll need a web cam, but they are less than 20.00-or if you have a laptop, most have a little camera built right in.    

sweetiepye2004
by on Nov. 15, 2010 at 2:09 PM

It's my husband's (and his parents) first Thanksgiving and Christmas having a family.  His parents have never had to share his time (he's 30) and I know they won't be happy that we won't be spending every second at their house.  They have 2 other children that will be at their place for both holidays.  I figured everything out and let my husband know how long we could be at his parents and mine on Thanksgiving.  I know when he tells his parents they're going to throw a fit.  How do I handle them and his reaction to his parents?

KatieJo81
by on Nov. 15, 2010 at 9:13 PM

Both my husband and I are products of divorce as well as our family is blended. This is my second marriage and my husband's third. My mom lives 3 hours away and his dad lives out of state. We've never traveled for the holidays to visit his dad but we do alternate between Thanksgiving and Christmas to see my mom.  None of the non-custodial parents are involved with the holidays as 1 gave away his rights, 1 lives out of state and the last only gets supervised visits so we don't get static about the kids holiday schedules. It seems to be mostly trying to figure out how to cover seeing his mom, my dad and my grandma's homes who all live in our town. The holidays become stressful because of traveling. Can you offer any destressing techniques that might help us get through the season with joy instead of turmoil?

Jme143Martin
by on Nov. 16, 2010 at 12:06 AM

My husband was layed off after ten years of full time employment with the railroad. He has been out of work going on three months and is severly close to what I would consider depression. He has been eagerly seeking employement daily, because he cannot find work his moods are at the most unpleasant. I have done all I can to reassure him that we are fine, and have gone as far as shown him with numbers that we will be more than fine with careful planning of our finances, YET still he cant seem to break free and be my cheerful upbeat honey bears he once was! I am literally exhausted because he is so withdrawn from our family, I know that once he finds a job this will pass I just need to know what to do in the mean while?

mommyakabooby
by on Nov. 16, 2010 at 12:44 PM

How can I get my SO to be fair to MY kids for Christmas? He always makes sure his kid, and ours get really nice stuff, then he will get something really expensive for himself. But my kids from my 1st marriage always seem to get crappy gifts. Example; last year he got his 9 yr old son an ipod touch that was $300, my kids got 50$ gift certificates. He bought himself a some type of thing for his guitar that cost over $400. I got nothing. This really bothers me, almost to the point of ending the relationship. Christmas isn't the only time he's like this...Any suggestions, advise???

 

Carey2006
by on Nov. 16, 2010 at 2:56 PM

Ex Etiquette for Parents......perfect timing as we are getting separated &  my son & I are moving 800 miles away.

Do you have any recommendation on how to make this transition time easier on my 4 year old son?

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