Dysfunctional Families And The Holidays. Who doesn’t have a dysfunctional family? There is no “normal” family as all families have their own set of idiosyncrasies. Dysfunctional families effect our emotional, psychological, and physical well being. As a Marriage Counselor I work with couples trying to manage the Holidays as Thanksgiving and Christmas can be a stressful very time for them. Spending time with in-laws is especially difficult if you “have to spend time” with in-laws. I hear the “we always spend time with your mother” and “hardly ever spend time with mine.” Power struggles tend to come up during the Holidays and they can turn the event and your relationship into a very unhappy situation.
Tips to get through the obligatory Family Get-Together:
1 – First of all you don’t need anyone’s permission to say NO, I’m not going.
2 – To avoid any possible power struggles it’s perfectly fine for each of you to go to your own family’s home for the holidays and enjoy their company.
3 – With that being said….be careful about resentments from past holidays. – Declare an amnesty with whichever family member you are feeling past resentments toward.
4 – Avoid the person that bugs you. – Be gracious with a greeting then stay the heck away from them. Don’t even establish eye contact afterwards.
5 – Develop and utilize coping skills when you are triggered. – You can excuse yourself, take a walk, do deep breathing, go to the bathroom for a time out, remind yourself to stay in the here-and-now, stretch arms over your head to release tension, leave at a set time, etc.
6 – If you drink, don’t let the occasion become a reason for over-indulging to cope. This will exacerbate your depression and anxiety, as well as disable your ability to utilize your coping skills. Contrary to popular opinion, alcohol is a depressant.
7 – To offset that day give yourself a break. – Create time for yourself to do the things YOU love and need to do for your physical and mental wellness: aerobic exercise, yoga, massage, taking long fast walks or any activity that calms you down and gives you a better perspective on what is important in your life.