The most important thing on the Thanksgiving menu

by | Mar 21, 2022 | Uncategorized | 0 comments

Hey (Name)

My whole clan will get together this year for the first time since the dark days began….I am incredibly grateful  to see my people, even as we plow through the details of meal planning, triggering and irritating one another as we go.  It is as if we were all back in grade school, bickering in the back of  our 1980 beige and brown dodge maxi van.  We go back and forth from being kind and wise adults to acting like  we are little, duking it out, each vying for power in our four child 1970s/80s Southern California family.  Make no mistake, I am claiming no saint status in this mutual irking. I am as irritated as the rest.

T-Bell Tacos GIF by Taco Bell - Find & Share on GIPHY

Our meal this year?  Tacos.  Turkey has been boycotted for too many reasons to get into.  On our agenda also this year- simplifying everything so we don’t further tired our old selves out.  Yep- there will be paper plates at our thanksgiving fete, fewer dishes over all and all of them mostly basic. Center stage is hanging out and seeing one another, grateful we all made it through the COVID madness mostly unscathed. For that alone I am incredibly grateful.

Early in our marriage my husband Ben and I used to follow up our Thanksgiving dinner with a dessert of some bickering and arguing. It took us many years to work out too many Thanksgiving relationship kinks that were painful and left one or both of us feeling less than thankful for one another and surely wondering if we would make it long term. Over time we made sure that beyond the meal, thanksgiving would  have some time built in to take better care of ourselves and our marriage. We hammered  out upgrades one slow year at a time.

We are always fine tuning.  Here are a few things I hear from my couples in therapy these days, the issues they are improving over time.

Do any of these sound familiar?

-I’m an introvert and I find being with lots of people pretty overwhelming.
-The food is not my favorite.
-Prepping the food is overwhelming.
-I don’t like my partners family- they are irritating.
-My partner doesn’t like my family, it’s stressful
-MASKS- and COVID:  Oh God they wear masks- enough already.  Or Masks!  Why aren’t they wearing masks!??
-Uggh, that weird mean family member- I wish they weren’t going to be there.
-Ugggh…drinking or drugs are creating chaos during the holidays.

Whatever is on your plate (pun intended, sorry I couldn’t help myself!), go slow. Pick one or two items on your relationship improvement list for this year only.  Pick one and give yourself the time and care needed to manage the difficult emotions and wade through the details.  You, my friend are playing the long game.  Change as much as you can without making yourself crazy.

**Optional goal setting:**Thanksgiving Marriage Planning

Remember, setting goals and planning it out makes change more likely to occur.  It helps to clarify and visualize the next steps. Put 30 minutes on the calendar this week to reflect and plan.  During this time, write down what is worrying and triggering you about your relationship this thanksgiving. During this time also write down the ideas that you have that you can do for yourself or with your partner to ease the pain of these topics and next steps about how you can communicate with your partner about this or put them in place yourself.

Final step- pats on the back.  Kudos for showing up, taking your relationship seriously and bringing wisdom and care to your relationship.

To you, wherever you are in the world and wherever you are in your relationship journey, I’m sending you good vibes for the weeks ahead. Thanksgiving is always about more than the meal.  It’s about spending time with our beloveds who are surely both wonderful and irritating.  It’s time we spend  more time  on the details of us to make our time together as beautiful as the food we stress we are preparing.

Now get to it,

Gretchen

P.s.  If you do the goal setting, lmk how it goes…drop a comment below and lmf.

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