Why the Holidays Can Drive You Crazy (& What to Do about It): Part 3

Over the last couple of days, I’ve shared with you some of my thoughts about why spending time with our families can be stressful, sometimes enough to leave us feeling a little crazy. Feelings of anxiety, confusion, frustration, guilt, being blamed, and other “crazy” emotions when we’re with our families aren’t uncommon. In Part 1, I described how these feelings can result from relational trauma, which happens when we’re emotionally wounded, blamed for our pain, and shunned when we attempt to reconnect. In Part 2, I explained that we might also see these feelings as the outcome of subtle ways of being with our loved ones; the more discordant notes in a family’s melody, the more intense our crazy feelings often become.

Why the Holidays Can Drive You Crazy (& What to Do about It): Part 2

This time of year, as Paul McCartney sings in his classic tune, the mood is right, the spirits are up, but that doesn’t always mean that you’re having a wonderful Christmas time. Indeed, in case you missed it, in Part 1 of this series, I considered what visiting family for the holidays can bring up—anger, sadness, frustration, anxiety, shame, and other “crazy” feelings, other painful feelings that you may even feel guilty about or that cause you to second-guess your emotional experiences. As we saw, one way to make sense of these feelings is to understand them as the result of relational trauma, which happens when someone we really care about hurts you, blames you for being hurt, and rebuffs your efforts to reconnect. These “crazy” feelings become more intense around family as members interact with and hurt each other in familiar ways.

Why the Holidays Can Drive You Crazy (& What to Do about It): Part 1

For many, the holidays truly are the most wonderful time of the year—a time of gathering with family, being close with loved ones, revisiting old memories, and making new ones. The title of this post and my post last year notwithstanding, I love the holidays, as I have many fond memories of being with my family around our Christmas tree as a boy. Being with family and friends is still deeply meaningful to me and to most of us.

 

However, starting a few weeks before Thanksgiving and throughout December, I frequently hear of anxiety, frustration, and even dread this time of year, because just as it’s a time of gathering with family and being close with loved ones, it’s also a time of gathering with family and being close with loved ones. Visiting family can be wonderful indeed, but if we’re honest, the holidays can you drive you crazy. Why is this, and what can you do to make your family time merry and bright?

Protective Patterns in Couple Relationships, Part 2: That Old, Familiar Tune in Your Marriage

Last week, we saw that as when two partners begin a new couple relationship, their deepest needs for love, understanding, and recognition fulfilled come to the fore. This period of “young love” is called the honeymoon phase, and during this time the couple can’t seem to get enough of each other. Notably, there is little to no conflict during this phase. Alas, a phase is, by definition, temporary. When the arguments finally come, each partner will use the defenses they learned in childhood to protect themselves and minimize their own pain.

Me & My (Fragmented) Self

Curiosity about the goings-on in my hometown of Holland, Michigan prompted me this morning to visit the website of the city’s newspaper, The Holland Sentinel. As a former paperboy for the Sentinel, I recalled slinging newspapers in the crisp cold of Holland’s winter streets bathed in the hushed light before dawn. As I scrolled through the headlines, I stumbled across Holland’s police log. My first perusal of its records for February 21-22, the most recent posting, showed little of interest. Animal complaint. General public assistance. Traffic. Motorist assist. A closer look was more troubling, however: destruction of property; larceny; miscellaneous crime; more larceny; fraud.

 

Sex, God, and Our Longing for Intimacy (Part 2)

Just as spirituality is an expression of our desire to experience an authentic, meaningful relationship with God, sexuality is the expression of our innate desire to connect with others and to know and be known intimately and completely. Certainly, in our closest, most satisfying non-sexual relationships, in knowing the other we discover more fully who we are.

 

For instance, a woman supports a recently divorced friend by meeting her at a coffeeshop for lunch, and her friend tearfully tells her that she has always been a calm, steady presence in her life. A groom exchanges a silent look with his best man that communicates the depth of his appreciation and love after many long years of faithful friendship. In such relationships, we encounter ourselves while encountering the other in unexpected and sometimes challenging ways that solitary self-reflection does not afford. However, even in these relationships, we, to quote the apostle Paul, “know only in part” (1 Cor 13:12), and we long to know and be known fully.

How Couples Hurt Each Other

how couples hurt each otherIf you are in a long-term, committed relationship, you know that conflict and emotional pain are unavoidable. All couples fight. Healthy couples are able to repair painful rifts when they occur in ways that cultivate intimacy, vulnerability, and emotional safety, and next week I will write about how couples might do this.  Today, however, we must consider how couples hurt each other now that we know what causes emotional pain.

Why We Hurt

Conflict is inevitable in all of our relationships, and romantic relationships are no exception. Partners in intimate, long-term relationships will surely step on each other’s toes, thereby causing each other emotional pain. Couples need to able to repair painful rifts when they happen in ways that cultivate intimacy, vulnerability, and emotional safety. How might couples do this?