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Dr. Noelle Nelson

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How to Find Harmony in Your Marriage During the Holidays

Los Angeles, CA, December 06, 2012 --( Your spouse wants to be with his extended family over the holidays but you want some quiet time with your husband and the kids. You feel the pressure from in-laws and your family and suddenly you've compromised--spend Christmas Eve with his folks and Christmas day with your parents, siblings and aunts and uncles. Your compromise doesn't feel like a compromise; it feels like a sacrifice. You're miserable and at odds with your spouse and family at the very time of year you should be most at peace and joyous. It's time to take a different approach, says Dr. Noelle Nelson, relationship expert and author of Your Man is Wonderful (Free Press, 2009).

"All you want is some peace and quiet with your husband and kids, but you also don’t want to be responsible for relatives (yours or his) holding your holiday choices against you. You can hear the complaints already," says Nelson. "In the interests of making 'everybody happy,' you compromise, but it seems you are the one always getting the short end of the stick."

Nelson suggests retiring the word "compromise" entirely from the marriage vocabulary. "This goes against tradition because we have been taught that compromise is needed for a successful marriage," she says. "It's time to resolve conflicts from a new perspective."

Nelson says to take legendary football coach Vince Lombardi's words to heart: "Individual commitment to a group effort–that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work,” and apply them to family.

"Anytime you do something together within a marriage, it’s a group effort," explains Nelson. With this approach, the Christmas/holiday conundrum can be resolved differently. Ask yourself what you want, and more importantly, why you want it that way. Then ask the same of your spouse. Assume that you are creative enough that between the two of you you'll find a way to satisfy you and your spouse and satisfy enough of your respective families’ desires as well."

Nelson says be prepared to listen and to seek to understand why your spouse feels the way he does, and ask of your spouse that he do the same for you. You’ll find most of the time, that behind why your spouse feels a certain way, there is a “something” that is bigger-picture important, something that you both can respect, she says.

"Perhaps making a family connection is the 'something' that makes being with extended family at the holidays so very important to your husband. To you, having quiet, close personal time with your spouse and children is key to holiday joy," says Nelson. "Now that you both know what is significant for the other, and are willing to give that 'individual commitment to group effort,' you will find creative ways to make it happen.

"You can agree to make a certain portion of the holidays that close personal time because your spouse is now very aware of how special that is to you, and you can make another portion of the holidays 'extended family' time, now that you know how special this is to your spouse. You are not 'compromising' in the sacrificial sense of the term, but honoring each other in a very real and practical way. And if other family members question your decision, you can calmly explain it was a decision made together.”
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Dr. Noelle Nelson
Diane Rumbaugh

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