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December 2012

Couple For Life

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This newsletter is designed especially for YOU if:

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  Ask Our Coaches:
We can't spend time with everyone during the holidays - what can we do to keep the peace?

"How do we fit everything in - or should we even try?"

This column answers questions submitted by our readers. Submit your question here and it will be forwarded to our coaches all over the world. Each issue, we'll publish a few answers from our RCI coaches.

Dear Coaches,

My family wants me to visit during the holidays. My husband's parents want him to visit them, too. We want to celebrate the holidays together. What do we do?


Nina responds ...

Dear Yvonne,

You have many options, starting with inviting your families to your place and seeing who takes you up on the offer. You could start your own traditions at home and visit family the week before or after. You could visit one family for Thanksgiving or New Year and stay home together for your other holiday in some combination that works for everyone.

You could split up for one holiday and see your respective families and then be alone together for the other holiday. You could alternate years. Ask your families for their ideas.

If all else fails, you could stay put together and arrange for someone to bring their Skype compatible computer and you could join them at the table by computer. There is a new app for ipad where you can visit with a room full of people and hear everything. It won't smell as good but if Uncle Bob over imbibes and gets obnoxious, you can have a handy power failure and disconnect.

If what you're making looks better than what they're having, they might just take you up on your invitation to join you next year!

Nina Potter | | 1.651.773.0732

Dr. Dee responds ...

When we become a couple, new boundaries and shared values need to be negotiated. What values and boundaries served us as a single will not serve us in our shared union and lifestyle. This includes holidays.

Although extended families are important, they are exactly that, extended. Your partner and partnership must be your new priority. It is common and understandable for your families to use guilt, pressure, or manipulation to ensure the same holiday traditions and visitations remain in place even after you are married.

With your new partnership or marriage as your main priority, sit down and define your new holiday visitation schedule. Perhaps you can alternate special traditions between the two families each year. Or if you both prefer to stay home, communicate to each family, as an aligned couple, that you will visit the day after the holiday.

If both families celebrate different holidays, then introduce your partner to a new tradition that they may never have experienced before. Whatever you decide, decide it together, without pressure or guilt from either family. You may want to start your own traditions.

Dr. Denise Wade | | 610-639-6627

Michelle responds ...

The holidays are great times but they can also be stressful too!

The most important thing is that you and your husband spend the holidays together. You are a married couple and both families need to understand that it is just as important for you to spend the holidays with your spouse as it is to spend the holiday with your family.

Part of marriage is compromise and deciding how to handle situations like this.

Talk to your hubby about different options for celebrating the holidays and decide together how and where you want to spend the holidays. What about alternating holidays spending Thanksgiving with your family and Christmas with his family or vice versa? What about celebrating the holiday the week before or after the actual holiday - who says that Christmas can only be celebrated on December 25?

Once you have decided on how you are going to spend the holidays do not feel guilty if someone is less than thrilled with your decision. Remember you cannot make everyone happy all the time, and at the end of the day if all else fails there is always next year!

Enjoy the holidays and have fun!

Michelle Bianco | | 855-624-2626

Barbara responds ...

Dear Yvonne,

Have you and your husband discussed this together, or are you both putting the demands of family above what you wish for the two of you? What's important to you as a couple? Remember, when the holidays are over it will return to just the two of you again, and if you have allowed the desires of others to be a priority for you, it may bring some distance due to unresolved issues between you.

The holidays can be a stressful time of the year for various reasons. There are expectations on us by others, as well as toward others by us. Some of these may be avoided by having clear boundaries with family, and by communicating your desires to one another. Since the holidays include Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's, maybe one of the holidays you can spend with one family, another with the other family, and the third holiday alone together, or however you may choose to spend it. Discussing this early on to give everyone proper planning time may relieve some stress and tension, which can often ruin the joy of being "in the holiday spirit" or mood.

Barbara Williams |

Anita responds ...

Sounds like the kind of conundrum that makes many of us sometimes *not *look forward to the holiday season! ;) However, there's a way to turn our frowns upside down.

Have a thoughtful discussion with your spouse and write down all possible options that can be considered to carry out your holiday mission. One example: Visit one spouse's family during Thanksgiving, the other during Christmas, and leave the New Year's Eve celebration for just the two of you. Another option: Invite all family members to your neck of the woods for a big Holiday family event.

Don't forget: Alternative methods work too! Bring your laptop to one family event and connect with the other through Skype. Sending a care package and a DVD from you two sharing a special message, or putting together a clever and fun video can also bring a smile to the family who cannot visit with you in person.

What's important is that you and your husband work together to find a happy compromise and deliver your decision as a union, with full gratitude and respect. Allow them to see your loving intention and they will appreciate and understand your hope for all to have happiness.

Anita Myers |

Feature Article:
'Tis the Season to Turn Sadness Into Joy

by Barbara Williams

In many traditions in our busy world, the holidays signify the time of leisure, of relaxing, reconnecting and spending quality time with loved ones. Initially intended to celebrate the birth of Jesus, we're accustomed to Christmas as: "'Tis the season to be Jolly!”

Regardless of where we are in life, most of us cannot help but feel the joy and excitement of Christmas. Our senses are filled with aromas of pine, cloves and cinnamon, candy canes, home cooked meals and enticing desserts. We are intrigued with the colorful lights, decorations and trees adored with beautiful ornaments. Our ears tune into the piped music and carolers singing cheerful Christmas songs, plus the laughter and squeals of little children, as they wait in line to sit on Santa's lap.

Who could not help but feel joyful in such an uplifting atmosphere?

Add shopping and gift-giving to the picture and the air is full of amazing delight.... until we suddenly find ourselves in the long shopping lines, heavy traffic and are too tired to cook dinner. Next thing we know, we get caught up in unnecessary quarrels, disagreements and misunderstandings with our loved ones, with hope that all becomes resolved in time for Christmas.

Going a step beyond typical holiday upheavals, there are those less fortunate who find it far more challenging to rejoice in the Spirit of Christmas. Think of individuals, couples and families who are experiencing their first Christmas alone, perhaps without a special loved one due to a recent loss, break-up or separation. Or those left in a nursing home, or who have recently moved away from family and friends. Instead of feeling "jovial," they may feel sad, abandoned, isolated or heartbroken.

And what about those who've experienced tragic moments; losing their homes or belongings to theft or natural disaster? Or those who are in the hospital with a serious injury or devastating illness? Rather than feeling joyful and excited about Christmas, these people are feeling helpless, disheartened, scared and even in great pain.

The most precious gift we can give anyone during these challenging times, including to ourselves, is genuine love, empathy and positive thought.

Take this time to remember a loved one who may have departed recently, leaving you with sad and painful memories. After releasing any remaining emotions with several deep cleansing breaths, begin to remember your loved one in a way you celebrated with them previously. Think of how they smiled, laughed and rejoiced with you. Think of how they would want you to feel happy, peaceful and grateful during this holiday season.

After all, they are still in our hearts and still with us in spirit... so let’s celebrate that!

Try not to get so caught up in the “holiday spirit” that you neglect the very person or people that matter most to you, even if you end up in those long shopping lines, heavy traffic or just missed that last item you hoped to get by the person who picked it up before you. Take a few moments to offer random acts of kindness to both those you know and those you don't know. Remember, holidays are "days off" from normal day-to-day activities and it is truly the time to enjoy and relax with those you care about.

And if you are caretaking someone less fortunate, be sure to take good care of yourself: get the rest you need, eat the proper foods and drink plenty of water to stay healthy, grounded and strong. Trust that you (and your loved one) are divinely loved and blessed by the greater good and that all will be resolved, soon. Choose to be grateful, hold to pleasant thoughts or memories, and keep a gentle loving smile on your face.

Remember to:

  • Be grateful and express your appreciation towards others.
  • If someone is having a difficult time coping with this holiday season, reach out to them. This will help you as much as it does them.
  • Accept and acknowledge random acts of kindness shared with you by others - especially if they were not aware of it.
  • Be more patient with yourself and with others.
  • Focus on maintaining healthy eating habits, stay hydrated with pure water, get proper rest and plenty of exercise.
  • Let go of past regrets and fears of the unknown.
  • Don't sweat the small stuff and remember to keep giving the gift of LOVE.

Here’s wishing you new memories filled with joy, hope and peace for this and many seasons to come!

Copyright © 2012 by Barbara Williams. All rights reserved in all media. Used with permission.

Barbara Williams

Barbara A Williams is a Board Certified Coach, a Professional Life Coach, and a Certified Relationship Coach for Singles and Couples. She is devoted to helping people look at and make necessary changes in the way they think, and how that thinking affects their everyday attitude, behavior, relationships with others, and ultimately their outlook on life.

Bonus Article:
Dealing with Your Teen Scrooge During the Holidays

by Maeve Crawford

"Christmas is coming and the goose is getting fat, please put a penny in the old man's hat, if you haven't a penny a ha'penny will do if you haven't a ha'penny, then God Bless You!"

The meaning of this traditional English children's rhyme is to focus on being charitable at this time of year. Even if the child doesn't have a ha'penny (half a penny/nickel) they can still be charitable by giving their blessing. This is the rhyme my mum used to sing to us when Christmas was on its way and we were preparing our living room for the tree and all its decorations and is one of my many fond memories of my childhood Christmases.

Our memories and traditions begin when we are small, but as children grow into young adults and they resist the family traditions, it can become an emotional inter-generational hotbed. Typically teenagers want anything other than what their parents want (or so it would seem) so decking the halls and trimming the trees, is something you may have to do without them!

So what is the solution?

If you live with teenagers and would like to enjoy your Christmas without the sulks, moans and groans, here are a few ideas to help make this holiday season peaceful and harmonious:

  • Consider asking for your teen for ideas for a new family tradition and be open to their suggestions
  • Give your teen a role so they feel a sense of responsibility.
  • Talk to your teen about your experience of Christmas as a teenager and let them know you can relate.
  • Be open to the possibility that your teen could surprise you with their ability to join in, when they recognize that you understand them.
  • Let go of attachment and be open to other possibilities of being together during the holidays.
  • Create and make something together. This can be a fun and liberating experience for you as well as your teenager.
  • Express yourself so others know your needs. If you aren't able to speak about what you want, how will you get your needs met?

An open heart and good communication is the key

There is a massive buildup during the holiday season and a tremendous amount of pressure on families to have fun, play games and enjoy each other's company. 'Tis the season to be jolly, after all.

It is also a time of potential family disharmony, emotional disputes and rehashing unresolved disagreements. With a bit of understanding, an open heart and good communication, this could be a time where you learn how to spend the season with peace, love and unity. It could be viewed as an opportunity to develop a new tradition, one that sees family members valuing and respecting each other, and this includes the adults!

However you spend this season, bear in mind that buying the most expensive or popular gift may create temporary excitement, but connecting with your family and loved ones is priceless and can last for eternity.

Copyright © 2012 by Maeve Crawford. All rights reserved in all media. Used with permission.

Maeve Crawford

Maeve Crawford is a certified relationship coach for singles. Now affectionately known as The Soul Mate Catalyst, she specialises in empowering women who feel they've left it too late for children and marriage, to fall in love with themselves as part of the soul mate attraction process she teaches.

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