Getting Through The Holiday Headaches

Dear Karen,

 An issue arises between my man and me every Christmas.  I come from a family that enjoys the holiday immensely – in all ways.  Christmas is not something my man looks forward to with the same level of excitement that I do; each year, a couple of weeks before Christmas I notice a cloud creeping over him that hangs on well into the New Year.  It is a struggle to get him to help with decorations and he grumps and groans about every little task I ask him to perform.  Attempts to get him to talk about why he is so grumpy are met with more growls.  His mood is visibly altered and overall he’s a grouch and quite unpleasant to be around.  He is the living embodiment of the Grinch!  I think running away from home is the best answer, unless you can suggest a better alternative.  Thanks! – Veronica, MA

 Dear Veronica,

How unfortunate that neither one of you gets to enjoy the holidays exactly the way you want, from the sounds of it!  Bummer!

I do have a few ideas that will hopefully help – let me know how it goes, okay?

Compassion, compassion, and then more compassion

Before you can even remotely begin to shift things, wherever/if they’re “shiftable”, you’ll be well-served to get to a place where you can deeply feel compassion for where he is. 

Who’d move from where they are (translation: comfort zone) to where someone thinks they ought to be (translation: scary unknown), if they were feeling judged?  Don’t you automatically shrink away from someone you’re feeling criticized by? 

For the most part, we have a deep-seated fear of rejection (translation: abandonment).  To some extent, we not only fear it, but we anticipate it…depending on where we are with our own sense of being okay, just as we are. 


If this has been going on for a long time, or if you’re really upset by it, it may be hard to see how you can go from angry to compassionate.  After all, the guy is single-handedly wrecking your Christmas, right? 

We’ll come back to that later.

Anyway, here’s something you may want to try (and it’s a great tool to use for anything that’s causing you to want to wring his neck):

Imagine your man as either a young boy, being terribly disappointed by Christmas, or maybe it works for you to imagine him in his prior relationship, having whatever good feelings he may have had about the holiday being stomped into the ground.  Use whatever scenario brings you closer to heart-centered compassion. 

Oh, and by the way, it doesn’t have to be accurate (although you do have to be able to connect with it as if it were). 

You’re just using a tool that will help you shift to a more compassionate place; whatever it takes.


For anyone who’s read either of my books (“The Surefire Guide to Getting What you Need from Men” or “Men are Great – How to Build a Relationship That Brings out the Best in Both of You”), you know that I am a very big advocate of telling your man how you feel, and of letting him know what you need from him.  There are certain conditions that need to be in place first, of course, but once they’re met (compassion being a huge one), then you go for it.

With your man, first find the right time, and then share with him how you feel. 

Remind him how much you love the holiday (and don’t be “heady” and factual; be vulnerable and come from your heart).  Let him know how sad you feel when you try to involve him and you feel him pulling away.  Tell him that you’d love to have him participate more fully in the holiday traditions.   

Do not try to do therapy on him.  It’s enough to tell him how you feel, and to ask him for what you need.

And then your job is to create a holiday season that makes you happy. 

Whether or not he chooses to join you.  

The other part of your job is to make sure you don’t make him “pay” for being the “Grinch”, if that’s how he does the holidays this year; stay loving and open-hearted, to the best of your ability.

Good luck, and happy holidays to you!