The holidays highlight the way our relationships operate in a way that just any other ordinary day can’t. The planning, the shopping, the prep, the packing, the travel, and ALLLLL the mish mosh of personalities together in one room could singe any stray hairs off your uncooked turkey. Speaking of turkeys, (sorry vegetarians, translate to tofu and veggies as needed) as you’re thinking about what it takes to not burn your turkey, you could simultaneously be thinking about what it takes to not burn your spouse down. Wait, let me come at that from a more positive angle…as you’re thinking about what it takes to prepare a golden brown and succulent turkey, you can simultaneously be thinking about what it takes to keep your relationship juicy and delicious. Hmmm, that’s better. Good connotations.
Here are three things that could lead to a turkey disaster:
1) Not planning ahead or reading a recipe for complete guidance or a little inspiration. (Try to thaw a 15 lb turkey the morning of. Ugh, panic?)
2) Incorrect temperature and/or incorrect cooking time.
3) Neglect (Got to baste that mug…).
Here are three things that could lead to a relationship disaster:
1) Flying by the seat of your pants around the chaos without any intentions or thoughtfulness to your actions.
2) Getting yourself all hot and bothered because you haven’t worked out or done whatever it is you do to keep yourself calm and cool and/or doing or focusing too much on one thing and not enough on the other.
3) Totally ignoring your spouse, taking them for granted or just not being thankful for what they do bring to the table.
Gee, look at the similarities. I think we’re on to something here if you’re interested in killing two birds with one stone. Keep the analogy in mind through the day. Whatever you’re doing for or to the turkey, do it with and for the spouse too…(goofiness recognized).
I’ll let you go to butterball.com to get further turkey cooking tips ( a cold water bath defrosts 4lbs per half hour, BTW) but here are some further thoughts on the above list and how to get to that juicy place in your relationship during the busy Thanksgiving day.
1) Plan ahead/read something inspirational. Choose one or two things you will be super intentional about. If you know that you always get irritated at your spouse when he watches football while you bust your ass, choose to react differently. Either accept with love that that’s what he loves to do and you love him so staring at his butt crack as he grasps his can-o-beer is lovely OR talk to him ahead of time and hand him a list of the things that need to be done and discuss who’s going to do what (You better add the when in there too. Time lines can differ dramatically). Think about previous years. What are your pitfalls of reactivity? If your wife runs around all stressed and you usually just get mad at her, do something different – joke with her or approach her ahead and ask what you can do to help minimize her stress. If your husband and your mother get tense with each other and you normally get anxious and try to intervene, decide to let it go and let them hash it out, breathe… I will give you a hint about your pitfalls. They stem from having unmet expectations. He “SHOULD” do this without me asking is a common one. When you find yourself saying he or she “SHOULD” (insert anything), sound the fire alarms. That turkey’s chard. Right now, stop reading and choose the two things you will intentionally do differently (this equals golden brown).
Like looking at a recipe for guidance or inspiration, maybe there are a few quotes or things you have read that shock your brain into that “Ah ha” moment. You know what I’m talking about. When what you are reading seems to pertain to you perfectly, something clicks and for a brief period of time everything makes perfect sense. Here’s one for you: “When we are offended at any man’s fault, turn to yourself & study your own failings. Then you will forget your anger.” Epictetus. AH HA!!! Go into your long, busy weekend prepared and inspired instead of overwhelmed and spent.
2) Give, give, give GIVE! That’s what we are supposed to do over ThanksGIVEing however a line can be crossed when the neglect of ourselves back fires into us becoming selfish bi*%^#’s! Keep a beat on your own temp and when you are feeling stressed or overwhelmed and focused on all the annoying aspects of those around you, take a time out. Go for a walk or a run, sit down and read, watch something funny, call whomever is synonymous with you and a good mood. You are in control of your own mood. No one is doing anything to you. During this busy day, burning yourself out is easily done yet it’s difficult to recover from the ramifications.
Incorrect cooking times in a relationship translates in to focusing on the negative stuff versus focusing on the good stuff. Make sure you’re cooking up the positive so you’re not desiring to use your spouses limbs as the dried out wish bone. No good wishes can come true there! Balance, balance, balance. Keep your temperature even and your focus varied.
3) Neglect. It’s easy to fly by each other without stopping. Stop, look at each other and smile. If you go to bed at night and you or your spouse have a huge chunk of spinach in your teeth, that’s a true indicator that you forgot to look at each other and pay attention. Sometimes it can be really fun to have a conversation with your guy or gal in front of other people. You might hear stuff that wouldn’t ordinarily come out. Hug, appreciate, laugh with, learn from and check each other’s teeth.
I hope you have a great Thanksgiving with perfectly cooked and loved turkeys.
Glennon Gordon, LICSW