Thanksgiving, Stress and Gratitude

communication fighting marriage Nov 14, 2017

Thanksgiving is an, errr…., interesting time.

Here’s what too many people tell me they’re wrapped up in: *Scrambling to get everything together for a family get-together *Planning weekend shopping *Dreading seeing a particular relative, or sweating who to invite so as to minimize possible fights

Listen, I’ve been there too, ain’t no judgement here.

The Problem

What I AM here to say is that the holidays have a way of bringing out the worst in relationships even though in our minds they should bring out the best (honestly I think a lot of problems are because of this expectation!)

Even the strongest relationships typically have a ramped-up level or stress and fighting this season.

And if you’re already disconnected, exhausted, or arguing? If there’s: Not enough time together? Tired from work? Arguments over money, chores and children? No time or energy for niceties, flirting or sex?

A relationship which is already struggling can find that the holiday season becomes the straw that breaks its back.


The solution is simple (whether or not it’s easy is up to you :) The solution is gratitude.

Gratitude heals and brings you closer.

Resentment harms and drives you apart.

Believe me when I tell you that I know how hard it can be to feel grateful, to have an attitude of gratitude.

I’ve suffered many injustices in my years and I’ve dealt with lots of frustrations in my marriage.

The difference is choice and focus. We get to choose what we focus on, and whatever we focus on dictactes how we feel.

  • Focus on what annoys you and you’ll feel annoyed.
  • Focus on what “traps” you and you’ll feel resentful.
  • Focus on what you can do and you’ll feel free.
  • Focus on what you’re grateful for and you’ll feel happy.

An Exercise

Here’s an exercise that’s both simple and remarkably effective:

Each day think of ONE thing that you’re grateful for.

Now, there are a few rules:

  1. Pick something different each day.
  2. Really connect with how your life (or day) would be without that thing.
  3. Really connect with how your life (or day) is better because of that thing.

The gratitude can be modest, all that matters is that it’s sincere. You can choose to be grateful for seeing a pretty bird as easily as you can be grateful for having a home, career or family.

Also the gratitutde doesn’t have to be about your partner (although the more you find things you’re grateful for about your partner the better your relationship will be).

BONUS To make this exercise even more powerful keep a journal and write down your gratitude each day. Then, every week review the whole journal and bask in everything you’re grateful for.

Why This Works

It’s all about your brain and neural pathways: the more we do something the more efficient our brain becomes at doing it and (because our brains are designed for pattern recognition) the more we start noticing it showing up in other areas of our life.

So the more you practice gratitude the better you become at and the more likely you’ll start recognizing things you’re grateful for and, soon, you’ll start spontaneously feeling grateful without even trying! (and that’s just awesome-sauce).

And THAT will have a profoundly positive impact on your personal happiness and your relationship.

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