How to deal with your crazy family during the holidays

Let’s face it; a lot of us have at least one person in our family who we see only once or twice a year, and there’s a good reason for that.  Maybe it’s because they’re a little bit quirky, or they have a lifestyle you don’t understand.  Maybe it’s because you just don’t have a lot in common with the other person.  Or, perhaps, it’s because you just genuinely don’t like the other person.  No matter the reason, it’s probably safe to say these people in your family drive you crazy. 

Whatever the case may be, there are ways for you to get through the gathering without losing your patience (or maybe your sanity).  The easiest way to do this is to remember two things.

  1. Love God and love people, as Christ commanded
  2. Remember that loving people doesn’t mean you have to have a close relationship with them or condone their actions

Jesus made these points clear when speaking to the disciples:

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.  The second is this: Love your neighbor as yourself.  There is no commandment greater than these.”  – Mark 12:30-31

Christ wants us to love and care for one another.  He wants us to be the shining light in an otherwise dark and broken world.  He wants us to have compassion for others in their situations and struggles, and he wants us to earnestly pray for them.

However, Christ is not commanding us to allow these individuals to have negative impacts on us.  It is okay to set and keep boundaries with others to keep our spiritual life protected.  It is okay to say no.  It’s okay to keep your distance if necessary.  It is okay for you to only say a few words to a family member you need to keep a boundary with and then walk away.  It’s also okay to remind them of these boundaries when they’re crossed.

RELATED: How to set appropriate boundaries with people to finally get some peace

This can be a difficult task, but during these potentially tense moments with family members, it’s important to remember where your approval comes from:

“The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup; you hold my lot. The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance. I bless the Lord who gives me counsel; in the night also my heart instructs me. I have set the Lord always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices; my flesh also dwells secure.”  – Psalm 16:5-9

Seeking forgiveness in your family.

When seeking forgiveness for others, their response may not be what you want or expect.

Perhaps your situation is the opposite.  Perhaps you’re the family member trying to make amends to relationships you’ve damaged and you’re hoping this holiday season you’ll be able to solidify those relationships.  This act is encouraged and commendable, but it can also be painful, and sometimes uncomfortable.  Remember, when you’re seeking forgiveness and reconciliation from others, they may not react in the way you want them to.  It’s important to remember to have grace and understanding with others.  Taken into consideration Max Lucado’s words in Just Like Jesus:

“The world has never known a heart so pure, a character so flawless.  His spiritual hearing was so keep he never missed a heavenly whisper.  His mercy so abundant he never missed a chance to forgive… Jesus is the ultimate model for every person… God urges you to fix your eyes upon Jesus.  Heaven invites you to set the lens of your heart of the Savior and make him the object of your life.”

How can you be just like Jesus to your family this season?

STRUGGLING WITH DIFFICULT FAMILY MEMBERS THIS HOLIDAY SEASON? Call us, message us on Facebook, or schedule your appointment right here. You don’t have to continue feeling this way. It’s time to get your life back.

Three Tips to Help Avoid Conflicts in Relationships

Let’s face it.  In any relationship, we’re going to have arguments and fights.  No couple is perfect and no relationship can be conflict-free.  But there are things we can do to help keep things going smoothly and help avoid some of the conflicts in relationships.

#1.  Don’t just talk.  Listen too.

Think back to the last argument you had with your better half.  Was it an open and honest conversation where you were genuinely trying to understand their point of view, or was your biggest concern trying to make sure you proved that you were right?  When we go into a disagreement doing nothing by trying to prove that we’re right and they’re wrong, nothing will change.  You won’t come to a resolution.  The only thing you’ll do successfully is alienate each other and hold hard feelings.

Instead of listening just to respond, listen to hear the other person’s heart and their concern.  It may not be pleasant to hear what they have to say, and it may hurt, but it’s important to respect their feelings.  Berating each other and trying to prove something will only make things worse.  Trying to understand their point of view shows them you’re willing to listen to their feelings too.  Once they’ve shared their feelings, try repeating what they said back to them to make sure that you understand correctly what they said.  Don’t “mince words” and try to use their words against them.  Simply work to understand their points.  After they’ve shared their side, share yours.  Don’t make it a contest to see who can “win” the fight, because when couples fight, there are no winners.  Everyone loses.

#2.  If you’ve forgiven them for a mistake, stop bringing it up.

In many relationships, we tell someone we forgive them for something or that we have moved on, but then the next fight we have we throw it back up in their face.  If you’ve forgiven your spouse or told them you’re moving on, then you need to do just that.  It’s not fair and it breaks trust in your relationship if you tell the other person you’ve forgiven them only to try to make them feel guilty, ashamed, etc. when you’re in an argument.  If you had truly forgiven them, you probably wouldn’t be bringing it up now.  If you’re struggling with unforgiveness, you should talk to your pastor, a counselor or a trusted, mature friend.

You won’t come to a resolution by guilting them.

#3.  Stay on topic.

If you’re arguing about something, stay on topic.  If you’re disagreeing about taking out the trash, don’t throw it up in their face about how the yard still needs to be mowed and how they promised to do the dishes that one time six months ago and how you always cook and how they never fixed the light fixture and how they never tell you when the oil needs to be changed and… you get the idea.  Pick one topic at a time and stay there.  When there’s no central point of a disagreement and neither of you stay on task, you’ll never come to an agreement – you’re just fighting for the sake of fighting.

It’s okay to have conflict.

It’s okay to have conflict in your relationship. It’s not okay to leave arguments unresolved.

One thing that’s important to remember is that it’s okay to disagree with your significant other.  Disagreements happen in marriages and relationships.  However, there is a healthy way to disagree so you don’t create unnecessary conflict.  It’s important to understand every unresolved argument you have only creates further distance between you and your spouse.  You’re only pushing each other away.  If you truly want to change your relationship with your husband or wife – you have to start arguing to resolve issues – not to create more conflict.


If you’re struggling in your relationship and aren’t sure where to turn, reach out to us or schedule an appointment.  It’s okay to admit your relationship needs some help.

Want some relationship advice? Maybe it’s time to be quiet.

 

Anyone who knows me knows that I have a hard time keeping my mouth shut.  I LOVE to talk.  It’s one of the gifts God has given me.  The unfortunate “flip-side” of that gift is that it sometimes gets me in trouble.  Chances are, you’ve experienced a similar situation.  People have called me in the past saying, “Zakk, how can I get my husband to listen to me.  He doesn’t hear a word I say, and what I’m saying is important!”

Listen.  I UNDERSTAND.  It’s hard, especially for those of us who love to communicate.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve tried to get my point across to my wife… to the point that she’s ready to strangle me.  But I was speaking with a friend once, and he gave me some of the best relationship advice I’ve ever heard:  sit down and be quiet.  To me, this was a foreign concept.  Why in the world would I be quiet?  In fact, the look I gave him was something like this:

Relationship Advice

But here’s the thing: sometimes we need to be quiet to give the other person a chance to process what they’re hearing.  Remember, fellow communicators, sometimes our spouses aren’t as open and willing to share their emotions as soon as they feel them.  Many times, they need time to organize and “file” their thoughts.  Giving them this space will give them time to find the answers the  two of you are looking for, and it also makes the situation less threatening.  In fact, this scripture probably says it best:

“There is an appointed time for everything.  And there is a time for every event under heaven… a time to be silent and a time to speak.”  -Ecclesiastes 3:1,7b

And we must accept that sometimes, the other person just has nothing to say.  Sometimes, the other person’s silence is misinterpreted.  Therapist Suzanne Phillips explains it best:

For example:

Your partner comes home from work, says hi, and then silently goes through the mail.

Worried you ask, “Is everything OK?”

“Fine.” Still worried you ask, “Why are you not talking?”

Now he/she sounds irritated “I don’t feel like talking.”

You move from worry to anger: “I wait for you to come home, and you don’t feel like talking?”

Partner walks into another room.

But, as Phillips shows us, there are other ways of handling the situation better.

Remedy: Undoing this type of vicious cycle takes a mutual effort of trust. Try the following:

  • Drop the Assumptions: Once you ask your partner if he/she is OK and your partner reports “fine,” assume the best, give him/her the space, then proceed as normal, “Do you feel like watching TV?”
  • Pick up the Clarifications: It is invaluable in a relationship, whether you are a very close couple or a couple repairing your bond that you clarify the meaning of your silence. “I’m just dealing with something at work. It’s not about us.” This drops the fear out of the situation and makes it easier for your partner to give you space or more calmly ask, “Can I help?” To which you may want to say, “No” or “Yes.”
  • There is room for options without assumptions. What this does is set up a pattern of mutual respect for separate problem solving on non-couple issues. Usually, when such space becomes part of a couple’s relationship, they don’t have to guard it so fiercely and they may more frequently ask the partner for an opinion.
  • Separate There and Then vs. Here and Now: If you find it very hard not to worry or assume the worst, NO MATTER WHAT YOUR PARTNER CLARIFIES, you might consider if you are mixing your history and the people from your childhood, or earlier relationships, with your present partner. With enough fear, accusation and insistence you can pretty much get the present to replicate the past.

The problem in relationships is that a lot of times, we find issues that just aren’t really there.  We pick fights because the other person doesn’t respond how we want them to.  We get angry because someone said something that hurt our feelings.  And sometimes, we just get mad because tensions get high when you share your life with someone.  And so, we fight, bicker and argue.  How do we stop the cycle?  Paul gives us a great indication:

Finally, all of you be harmonious, sympathetic, affectionate, compassionate, and humble. 9 Do not return evil for evil or insult for insult, but instead bless others because you were called to inherit a blessing. -1 Peter 3:8-9

Remember, the best thing you can ever do for your better half is love them the way Jesus calls us to love.

Still struggling?  Check out our free resource, 10 Communication Tips to Improve Your Relationship in Just One Week!

If you’re struggling in your relationship, you don’t have to face it alone.  Schedule an online appointment or office visit below.


Use this trick to make your discussions more effective.

Relationship CounselingWhether you realize it or not, in most relationships and marriages, there are two different kinds of communicators.  More often than not, one of you is the pursuer and one of you is the distancer.  Not knowing these things about yourself and your spouse can make it hard to have an effective conversation if the discussion is serious in nature – and it can make it even more difficult, maybe even impossible, to resolve a disagreement.

Before learning how to solve these issues, we must first learn what and who the pursuer and the distancer are:

PURSUER:  The person who moves “inside the relationship” to solve a problem.  When an issue or problem arises, this person typically wants to jump right in and have a conversation immediately with the other person.  The pursuer wants to fix the problem “right here, right now”.

DISTANCER: The person who moves “outside the relationship” to solve a problem.  This doesn’t mean the person is running off to have an affair because they can’t deal with their problems — it simply means the distancer is looking to find a way to process the issue in a way that’s comfortable to them, such as a hobby, exercising, talking to a trusted friend, etc.  This person doesn’t want to solve the problem immediately like the pursuer does.  They want to take time to “file their thoughts” and figure out a good solution.

NEITHER OF THESE PEOPLE ARE WRONG.

So, how do we solve this communication barrier in our relationships?

First, find out if you’re the pursuer or distancer.  It’s not a difficult answer to find.  Just think back on the last few disagreements or serious discussions you’ve had with your spouse.  Did you want to solve it immediately, or did you prefer to take your time to “hash it out” in your head?

Do you find it infuriating when your husband or wife doesn’t want to sit down with you and work out the problem as soon as you realize there is one?  Or do you get aggravated when your better half keeps pressing you for thoughts and solutions you just don’t have?

Sometimes, if people in a marriage or relationship are very similar, they can go back and forth on being the pursuer and distancer, depending on the situation, however it’s not extremely common.  Again, it’s not difficult to find out if this description fits you.

After you’ve identified who’s who in the relationship, the easiest way to solve the issues and problems you face is to table the discussion.  Yes, you read that right.  PUT IT ON PAUSE.  BUT, you must set a time to come back to the discussion to come to a resolution.  This could be a couple hours, a couple days, or whatever time the two of you agree on.  This assures the pursuer that there will be a resolution to the issue at hand, but it gives the distancer the time to sit down, think, and process the information and come back to the table ready with solutions.

Not convinced?  Put this into practice with an issue you’re facing, or the next disagreement you have.  See if both of you feel like you were able to have a more productive conversation with each other.


Continuing to struggle communicating in your relationship?  Remember, it’s okay to ask for help.  Even if you can’t convince your spouse to come with you, relationship counseling can be beneficial to giving you the strength and hope you’re looking for.  Schedule your appointment online here.

10 Communication Tips to Improve Your Relationship in Just One Week!

“The reason you don’t understand me, Edith, is because I am talkin’ to you in English and you’re listenin’ to me in ‘Dingbat’!”

Although blunt (and funny) Archie Bunker, the character in the TV show All in the Family had it right, didn’t he?  Sometimes the things we say and the way they’re heard can be completely different.

Let’s face it, relationships can be hard, but communicating with your significant other shouldn’t have to be.  We’ve prepared a free resource for you so you can better communicate with your better half.

Click here to get your copy of 10 Communication Tips to Improve Your Relationship in Just One Week!.  We’re confident if you put these tips into practice, you’ll be on your way to healthier communication.