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How to Not Only Survive, but Thrive with Your Dysfunctional Family THIS Holiday!

dysfunctional family holiday


Here we are, one week from Christmas.  And you and I are in the same boat – anticipating another dysfunctional family holiday.

By this point, we sing Christmas songs in our sleep.  Sit frustrated in unexplained traffic jams, after hours of holiday shopping. Or perhaps we overdose on sappy holiday movies from the Hallmark Channel.  You know what I’m talking about?  Those flicks where families start out as messed up as ours, but finish as utterly transformed works of beauty.  All in under two hours.

No wonder we’re frustrated.  The “most wonderful season of all” highlights an uncomfortable truth: [Read more…]

Vacation Wisdom for Emotional Storms

Vacation Wisdom for Emotional Storms

I approached this year’s vacation much like I prepared for my wedding – with visions of undiluted happiness spinning in my head.  But after arriving at midnight, I woke up in Vacation Heaven to raging winds, and a stormy sea.  Lake Michigan was unsafe for small vessels and open water swimming.  And strangely, it reminded me of a shocking truth we all live with, but frequently ignore… [Read more…]

Marriage Advice for Wedded Bliss

Marriage Advice for Wedded Bliss

My Beautiful Niece, Photo Courtesy of Elizabeth Henson Photos

Two weeks ago we attended the wedding of my niece.  The ceremony and reception were exquisite – just as she is.  Watching the ceremony, I started thinking about all the planning and effort that culminates in a wedding.  Then I thought about all the places we get stuck when the honeymoon is over.

What would keep us from repeating the mistakes that suck the life out of a relationship?  What do I wish I’d known when I was a blushing newlywed? I decided to answer my own questions in the form of an open letter to my niece.

Here’s a teaser of that letter from

My Beautiful Niece,

By now you’ve been married for almost two weeks and I thought I’d drop a line to offer you the kind of marriage advice that no one offered me. If you follow it, you’ll have a good shot at doing what your parents and mine couldn’t, and what your uncle and I work at daily: succeeding in your marriage. We’ve learned some priceless lessons by trial and error.

Lesson 1: Place a strong boundary around your relationship.

I noticed that you tuned out of Facebook during your honeymoon. Way to go! That was your time with your husband; you did not need to share it with friends and family. Just as you protected that experience from outside interference, so you will need to protect your relationship from the tentacles of your families and friends.

Everyone on both sides will have opinions and specific marriage advice about who should be doing what. We love you both, but our opinions are not your golden truths. So take them with a grain of salt. Set a firm boundary around your marriage, and let no one outside that boundary dictate your actions within it. From inside your relationship boundary, work as …

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