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Handling the Holidays: How to Communicate with Your Partner to Enjoy the Holiday Season Transcript

Please note: Transcripts for the No Guilt Mom Podcast were created using AI. As a result, there may be some minor errors.

JoAnn Crohn: Welcome to the no guilt mom podcast. I’m your host, JoAnn Crohn here with the wonderful and amazing Brie Tucker. 

Brie Tucker: Why, hello, hello, everybody. How are you? 

JoAnn Crohn: Okay, so I’m super excited about discussing this topic because it’s coming up a lot with our balance members and the stress of the holidays. It’s not so much dealing with your own immediate family, but the expectations of your extended family.

Brie Tucker: Oh, that can be a lot. And I think it also depends on like, how much extended family do you have and where do you have to go? Like I have 15 extended family members just here in town. And to me, that’s a lot because I grew up not having extended family nearby. 

JoAnn Crohn: It is a lot in the balancing in laws versus your own parents. 

Brie Tucker: Mm hmm. 

JoAnn Crohn: That’s a big, big thing to go through. I know I can think of one balance member in particular who has a very contentious relationship with her in laws and it just brings her so much stress and she feels disrespected and that’s not something that you want in your holidays.

Brie Tucker: No, no, it’s not something you want in your life. You don’t you want to feel that there is mutual respect and that you are heard, respected. I already said respect, so sorry i’m saying that twice. Respected and also Loved and supported

JoAnn Crohn: Yeah. So that’s why we wanted to record this episode to give you a game plan for how to tackle these issues because you’re not going to tackle them alone. You’re going to tackle them with your partner. And for that to happen, certain conversations need to happen before you get into those events. So that’s what we’re talking about today. Let’s get on with the show.

Okay, so let’s talk about all the holiday stresses that really exist when we bring extended family into the mix. Because we all play roles in our life, and we kind of switch on these roles, we switch from boss to mother to daughter. And when we’re in the extended family holiday thing those roles collide, suddenly you’re the daughter in law, you’re the daughter, you’re the sister, you’re the mother, you’re everything. And a lot what I’ve seen, I used to go into a different mode around my family, like my mom and my dad versus the mode I’m in around my kids and my husband. Didyou ever, do you do that? Did you notice anything like that?

Brie Tucker: Oh, yeah, yeah. And it’s funny you bring this up because just recently I was, I forget what conversation I was having with my kids and my daughter said something to the effect of Grammy definitely still mothers you mom and you’re 45 and I’m, or am I 45? I don’t know. What? 44. Yeah. 44. I 


JoAnn Crohn: We all forget. No one ever anymore our age. So we forget.

Brie Tucker: Yeah. Once you pass 30, I don’t think you really keep track that much anymore. But anyway, so like she like, yeah, Grammy’s still totally mothers you when you’re over there. And I’m like, oh yeah, I know. And it’s just, it’s, you kind of fall into that. And it’s funny you said that because when you first put that point up here on our outline for our episode about discussing the different roles we play, I’m like, what do you mean? And then I’m like, oh yeah, nothing highlights that more than when I get together with my family. The I am the youngest child, I am the youngest sibling, and that, I do a lot of times just let go of the mothering aspect of it. I am a part time mama when I’m around my family because I get treated like the baby. 

JoAnn Crohn: Really? That’s 

Brie Tucker: God, yes. At this age, I’m still the baby. Just kind of like preserved myself to like, that’s what I am. 

JoAnn Crohn: what you,

Brie Tucker: know if I’m ever going to change.

JoAnn Crohn: are you okay with that rule?

Brie Tucker: Yes and no, I mean, it’s limited responsibility. Who gets asked just to bring a pie to Thanksgiving? Why, else cooks like turkeys and sides and I’m Like, with me, they pretty much only turn to Brie like, Okay, what cocktails and desserts are you bringing? Because that’s what your forte is. 

JoAnn Crohn: That’s a good forte.

Brie Tucker: can’t screw anything up if that’s all I’m bringing. Like, not a big deal if it’s only the The cocktail that didn’t make it. When the turkey doesn’t come, it’s kind of a big deal. So, I don’t know. That’s whole other conversation to have on the therapy couch. 

JoAnn Crohn: what got us into like a huge fight with me and my sister is because I have been the bossy older sister for as long, and I hate that word bossy, but honestly, The way I was treating her, I was, uh, it was not good. It was like, uh, I know best. And like, what are you doing? And you should really be doing it this way. nothing I would suggest to ever parent, like, that’s not how I parent, that’s not how I teach nothing. It only existed in this limited scenario because that’s what the relationship was with us as kids. Like, Oh, do it this way. And then she’d be like, yeah, throw stuff at me. It was deservedly so, but that was still happening as an adult and that’s one of the reasons she got so mad at me and didn’t talk to me for three months is because she just felt, and I say didn’t talk to me for three months like a shoving under the rug. It was a very stressful experience. 

Brie Tucker: last year. 

JoAnn Crohn: Yep, I just don’t want to talk about it. But during that time, I did realize that dynamic was happening. And I have been very cognizant every time I am around her, not to go into that dynamic, to instead treat her like I would, My daughter even my daughter. I’m very like, Oh my gosh, this is amazing what you’ve done. I’m so proud of you. You’ve done such a good job. that’s kind of the mentality I’m going for with my sister because that is actually what she wants out of me as an older sister, which I have not given to her. instead of bossed her around and told her what to do. Uh, so 

Brie Tucker: that I don’t get a whole lot of bossing. I’ll ask, what do you guys want me to do? If I have a problem with it, I’ll say something, but I do tend to defer to whatever I’m, I’m, whatever role I’m being. Again, that’s where I feel like I’m falling into the youngest sibling and the daughter mode of just tell me what you want and if I can it, I will do it.

JoAnn Crohn: Yeah. And, but like that, that conflict in what, she wanted her role to change I kept treating her like that role that brought a lot into our holidays. And usually at the end of our holidays, I mean, it wasn’t rare for her to storm out of my parents house, slam the door and drive off because she was so mad at all of us.

We all did that. Me, my mom and my dad, all of us. And I cop up to that totally. It was happening. It was not in her mind, but that’s. It’s the sort of things that go on when you bring families together. All of this history comes into the holidays that may be unresolved, and if people aren’t aware of it, or if you’re not. willing to change it, it, it’ll keep manifesting. It’s like Christmas me, brown hogs day every stressful family scenario. 

Brie Tucker: It’s insanity Christmas or insanity holidays because you’re not changing anything, but you’re expecting the results to change. So you’re doing the same thing over and over again, expecting different results, and that’s just not going to happen. There are things, and that’s why we’re here to tell you, there are things you can do. There are that can happen

JoAnn Crohn: I mean, with that holiday stress too, there also is all of these things on your plate. And so highly recommend if you haven’t listened to Tuesday’s episode yet, the episode right before this, if you’re listening later. go listen to that because we talk about the overcommitment in the holidays. So this is just the second piece of it, the relationship issues during the holidays.

Brie Tucker: yeah, like that last one We told you how to figure out how to get some of that mental load off now We’re going to tell you how to handle the extended family part of it All that that brings.

JoAnn Crohn: yes. Now going into those roles, it’s not just your role. It’s your partner’s role.

Brie Tucker: Yep. 

JoAnn Crohn: because a role where they just let their mom tell them exactly what to do. And they let their mom be in everything of their lives and control it. And this is not my scenario whatsoever. I’m using someone else’s scenario like that. because. When you have that, when you have a partner who does not say no to their parents, that produces a lot of stress as well, because you even have less control over that than you do over your own family.

Brie Tucker: Oh, yeah, yeah because it’s that whole do I say? Where do I go? And it does also I think comes back to that whole i’m not now it’s not only me not feeling respected by the person that is Possibly diminishing my role. now I’m feeling like my partner doesn’t support me and to just go along with something that, that hurts me. It’s like you said in the last episode, stop right there. really hurts.

JoAnn Crohn: Yeah. 

Brie Tucker: there by yourself against what feels like an army of people and you’re by yourself. So that’s, that’s hard. 

JoAnn Crohn: Yeah. cannot go against your in laws by yourself. You cannot be expected to go against your in laws by yourself. when our partners have trouble with boundaries against their own family, it does affect you. And that’s even greater, like. a greater push to get on that same page and to really come at it as a united front because some boundaries could look like, I mean, you might hear this from your spouse or your partner that, Oh, that’s just the way she is. And it’s kind of brushed to the side, your feelings, that’s just the way she is. She’ll never change. It’s going to be much easier just to say yes to her, then

Brie Tucker: the comedic, uh, racist grandma in every movie?

JoAnn Crohn: that’s just the way they are. Just say yes and go along when this person’s behavior is causing so much stress for everybody else around them. I mean, that’s a signal that your partner has a trouble with boundaries and their parents. Um, and how that’s fixed. Well, we’re going to get into it. Right after this break guys. On to talk. And we were talking with one of our members, Donna, who over the past few years has really improved the relationship between herself and her husband, based on what she’s learning in balance. She has learned how to get. feelings on a situation and the talking and the conversation to be more two way. So not only does she feel comfortable being vulnerable with him, but he’s feeling more comfortable being vulnerable with her. And so it all contributes to this whole, it’s called pool of meaning, which is from a book called crucial conversations where we don’t know how to handle a conversation or a situation unless. all of the meaning is put into the pool. So like when one partner isn’t giving their opinions on whether it be the holidays, whether it be extended family members, any of that, they’re withholding from the pool of meaning and you can’t adequately solve a problem when that’s happening. 

Brie Tucker: sounds like it’s like the kind of situation where it’s like one person is making all the decisions for everybody and it’s all being kept up in your head. Which is the scary part, because I think a lot of times, when we’re the only one that has everything in her head, there is no way anybody can help us, at 

JoAnn Crohn: there is it there isn’t and you see so much of this on social media or like from certain like friends to we’re complaining about their partners and saying how they have to manage their partner’s moods because if they don’t manage their partner’s moods, then it’s going to be worse for them in the long run. Because their partners are going to be grumpy. 

Brie Tucker: Been there 

JoAnn Crohn: yeah, exactly. So, if that conversation is happening in your head, it means that your partner’s not contributing to the pool of meaning. Whereas their needs are somehow not getting met and it’s not your fault, it is because they are not sharing them. And I that is a huge, huge thing to get at. because if you feel like you’re managing your partner’s emotions, there’s something else going on there. They’re an adult too. They need to share what they think. because they’re for their own feelings. 

Brie Tucker: and the great news is, there’s a way you can help.

JoAnn Crohn: help. Yeah. Yeah. We talk a lot about how women have these expectations on themselves in terms of everything we have to take on and emotional labor. Men also have expectations on themselves to be the providers, to be the strong ones, to not emotion. And so That’s a hard thing. But if we know that that’s the programming we have and we know that’s what our society expects from men, we can go into it being like, Oh, you know, I know that this is going on. I know that you probably don’t feel like you can share emotions and they probably don’t feel like they have ever been given permission to share emotions. Honestly, not by you, but by their family growing up by different teachers in their lives. Like Never, 

Brie Tucker: You mean kind of like how we don’t feel like we’re, given the permission to say, no, I’m out. I’m done because we’re expected to just keep holding everything because that’s what makes you super mom. 

JoAnn Crohn: Yeah. 

Brie Tucker: And everybody wants to be super mom super mom is awesome, except for the fact that she’s barely holding herself together. That’s another, that’s another episode.

JoAnn Crohn: No, but like it all, it all contributes to the situation because have different expectations on them as well. And the patriarchy hurts everybody, men and women, because men have to be put in a little box too, where they cannot cry, they cannot say they need something, they have to be macho, or they can let their feelings come out in anger, which is socially acceptable for men to do. things that we don’t want. So the first thing to do is, first of all, this holiday season’s coming up. Will you please schedule a date with your partner? So schedule something fun to do. Something where you guys can talk during it. Something where there’s like no pressure. Just something Fun. There is, my husband and I go out on our lunch dates every Wednesday, and that’s our fun thing. And that’s when lots of stuff comes up, stuff going on with the kids and how to handle it. Stresses that’s going on in our lives. we just keep each other updated on that. So we know exactly what’s going on. Um, and Brie, you, you do something very similar as well. 

Brie Tucker: right? So I would say we were actually really good at doing that in the very beginning, but then we had, just life, life just got crazy and we stopped making time to talk to one another. so we ended up doing, family therapy because my husband’s a social worker by birth. degree is in psychology. So we are both huge proponents of therapy. I think it’s fantastic. And in our case, we were like, we know that we’re not talking. We know that we’re not getting that time to discuss the things we need to. So we would go to therapy. We, we, we scheduled some family therapy sessions because that’s what it was about. We were having difficulty having the conversations about our blended family and what we could do going forward, which also would include our relationship between the two of us. And the thing that made it even more fun because actually, again, we like therapy. So we enjoyed going to therapy. It was hard work when you were literally in the session, but you came out feeling so much lighter and excited because you had things you could work on that sounded like a solution you could do. Also, though, at the end of it, we would go out to dinner. That was night. Like, we’d go out to dinner, go have like a, go to tapas, whatever, just the two of us. And it, and it was, so it was extra special because I knew, like, after we did all that hard work at therapy, we were going to get that extra time to connect right then and there. And it was fantastic. I love it. I, we, we’re not doing that at the moment, but when we need it, it’s there and I love it. 

JoAnn Crohn: Yeah. And it’s important to just to get like everything out on the table, be it a restaurant table. That’s okay.

Brie Tucker: yeah, and I think a too like because you brought up about that earlier in a side conversation that therapy is a great thing. It really not everybody’s excited about therapy because they don’t have a degree in psychology. I mean obviously someone that’s That’s going to fun for them. But it’s 

JoAnn Crohn: before, and they how amazing it could be.

Brie Tucker: Right. It’s very helpful, especially when you don’t know your starting point. You’re like, I don’t, I, we, I just, I don’t even know how to start this conversation. We don’t know how to even start the conversation. Therapy is a great way. There’s people that get paid to do that.

JoAnn Crohn: Yeah. It is. It is a great thing. A great, great thing. One little thing that you could do on your own just to start talking about those, having those conversations with your partner, be really upfront, be like, Hey, I miss talking to you. So, really want to know what’s going on, how are you doing and just be there to listen. And one of my best things, cause something that one of my friends reminds me of, because she has a problem with this is she’s like, you have two ears and one mouth, use it appropriately. 

Brie Tucker: Should be listening. twice as much. 

JoAnn Crohn: Yes. So when you’re listening to someone else, it’s not like, Oh yeah, this for me too. Oh yeah. This for me too. And like changing the conversation directly back on you. Cause I tend to do that. I do. And I’m very aware of it. So when my husband’s talking with me, I’m like, Oh yeah, that sounds like, and I try to summarize it, the conversation, but think of it like a headline in a newspaper is somebody’s talking to you about everything. And so what would the headline be? So in this conversation right now, like I just told you about going on a date with your partner. Bree told you about therapy. So like the headline would be, so what I’m hearing is that I need to go on a date with my partner and therapy is a really good thing. And you’re just kind of summarizing it. Now, that’s not the most enticing headline in the world in terms of like copy editing, but it doesn’t need It just needs show the conversation. so those are two things you can do going into this holiday season. I’m going to say it again.

Go on a date, schedule it right now, schedule it for this weekend.Go and just relax without the children because that’s when things are going to come out and that’s when you can discuss all of this holiday stuff that’s on the horizon and we’re really going to get into those family dynamics to talk about in your conversation right after this. Okay. So let’s talk about handling these family expectations as a united front, because we already talked about how if your spouse doesn’t have boundaries with their parents, that’s an issue right there. And that’s actually an issue that is best dealt with in therapy

Brie Tucker: Okay.

JoAnn Crohn: that’s It’s a big issue. And I would not expect anyone to handle that issue on their own. 

Brie Tucker: Yeah. 

JoAnn Crohn: So just know if those sound familiar, You might want to look at some, couples therapy and go into it being like, I just want us to communicate better.

Brie Tucker: Right. and that’s the other thing too, I think that’s important is that any kind of therapy is not a bad thing for starters. Let’s just with that. let’s just take that back. The whole idea that, mental health is something that we shouldn’t, talk about and that therapy isn’t a great thing because it really is. It really is. But the second thing I want to take off about this is that as soon as you tell somebody Oh, we’re, we’re doing couples therapy or we’re doing family therapy. It’s like, Oh, what’s wrong with you? Oh, what’s wrong? sometimes there isn’t really anything wrong. It’s just a matter of we want to have somebody help us out a little bit more. So we’re gonna work on this. So like, I would, because I know that like, whatever I would say to anybody in my family, like, Oh, we can’t do this, such and such, that night we have, we have family therapy. And they’re like, Oh no, what’s wrong?

JoAnn Crohn: has such bad rap. It really does. And like, honestly, therapy is the best thing in the world. I feel 

Brie Tucker: So, we talked about therapy and how awesome therapy is, and I, we could keep going on that and I think maybe I smell another podcast episode to normalize that for sure. But let’s talk about also some of the things that can cause that stress when you’re getting together with that extended family. what about all those expectations and the pressures that you’re dealing with that perhaps You’re feeling, but you haven’t really identified, right? Like, so like before we did this episode, we were like briefly writing down what are some of the things that, you deal with that are those expectations when you’re doing this extended family get together? Well, one, first of all, what house do you have celebrations at? That can bring up a lot of feelings, 

JoAnn Crohn: That and it’s also like the what has been done in the past versus do we need to keep doing that or can we switch it up a little bit? Because I feel get into these modes during the holidays where it’s like tradition and the tradition makes so many people miserable, but they won’t speak up because tradition and it gets really, really stressful. So when you have conversation with your partner about this, this is a great thing to bring up if you’ve noticed some underlying stress we noticed some underlying stress in our family, um, so we volunteered. My husband actually volunteered for us to take it this year off of his mom. And there was a little confusion about it, but we’re taking it on. And, and we were discussing with my brother and sister in law who loved having it at our place because, mother in law’s kind of far out, like it’s a 30, 40, 45 minute drive. And they’re like, yes, we can go there and then we can get our kids to bed at a certain time. sounds great. And all of us also don’t like going to a place and feeling completely stuffed afterwards, um, with all the food. And so just knowing that they felt the same way that we felt because we were on the same page about it, we were able to bring up this conversation with other people. We’re have a merry tapas Christmas, Eve all the appetizers.

Brie Tucker: You were talking about that last night when we got together to celebrate your birthday. And I was like, that’s what we’ve started because my, it’s the same in our household. Like my parents were very big on the whole, like, let’s have a big formal dinner. And we did that. When the kids were littler, and let’s just be honest, they didn’t take up as much room because they were like four and five. You could cram like six of them on one side of a table. But now that we’re all adults, not only is it hard to have enough food to feed that many adults, because that’s a lot more food, but it also put a lot of stress on my parents and everything. And so the last couple years, my sisters and I have been doing that same thing. We didn’t call it tapas. We just called it appetizer meal. We’re like, we’ll just all bring appetizers, mom. Don’t worry about it. We always bring appetizers. We’ll all just have paper plates. fill it when we want to. And it’s just very chill that way. Like when I want to sit and talk to you, I can sit and talk to you. I don’t have to go sit at the table. And then you’re at the other end and I can’t hear you. And we’re yelling over everything. And it just, yeah.

JoAnn Crohn: Or when you see that the person who’s always hosting is just completely stressed out and you don’t enjoy time with them at all 

Brie Tucker: Because they’re trying to deal with everything. 

JoAnn Crohn: they’re trying to deal with everything. and as a side note, and I told my mom about the merry tapas Christmas, Eve, she’s like, what? And I’m like, you know, like tapas, like appetizers. And she’s like, oh my gosh, I thought you said topless. I’m like, no.

Brie Tucker: Mom, we need to have some conversations about what your thoughts are about what I 

JoAnn Crohn: I was like,

Brie Tucker: the third time.

JoAnn Crohn: no mom, you just have to bring an appetizer and wear a shirt. It’s going be good. It was funny though. It was super cute. I love it.

Brie Tucker: So, so that brings up some more of those expectations. So like not only what house we’re doing our celebrations at, but are we bringing food? And if we are, food do we have to bring? Are we buying gifts and who are we buying gifts for? And how many do we have to have? And what was their limit?

And all of that. Plus you also hit a great one that was always an issue in my household. When my kids were younger, it’s, it’s not so much now that they’re teens, but when they were younger, it was also a matter of time scheduling. and you said the same thing, when we were littler, well, first of all, my whole family they all love this one particular part of the East Valley here in Phoenix and they all live within a mile of each other.

And I was always the bad child cause I lived like 20, 25 minutes away. So when we were planning parties and get togethers and stuff like for them, it was no big deal to hop in the car and drive for at most five minutes to get their kids home and in bed. Me, I had a half hour trek to get him home and then unload the car with all the stuff and everything.

So, the time scheduling is another expectation you might be juggling of like, do we have to work around naps, do we have to work around work schedules, you know, what do we need to be done by a certain time so we can go to a, go to a service or maybe like to get our kids home and in bed. That’s a lot of stuff. 

JoAnn Crohn: That is a of 

Brie Tucker: a lot of stress to be taking on.

JoAnn Crohn: And it’s a lot of stress to be taking on by yourself. So it’s great things to talk with your partner about seeing what you can totally delegate to them and what you can step back from. And again, go back and watch the episode, like listen to the episode we did before this one because we talk about how boundaries you want to like. Say what you’re not going to do and then you end up doing it anyway. So make sure go listen to that with this conversation 

Brie Tucker: Stand strong, mom. Stand strong. 

JoAnn Crohn: And that’s something you’re going to need to be aware of that. It’s a totally normal thing to want to do. 

Brie Tucker: Right? And you want to have this conversation, and the last bit of advice I’m going to throw out on this one is you want to have this conversation before the event. When you’re already there, that is not the time to start discussing what you should have done differently.

JoAnn Crohn: yeah, no. No, no. And 

Brie Tucker: doesn’t help at that moment.

JoAnn Crohn: and another little warning out there is I know, I know the type of person you are and you want to get this perfect. You want to conversation with your partner perfect. We listed too many things here for an initial conversation. So what I want you to do is like It’s a win if you bring up one of these things and decide how you’re going to handle one of these things. So focus on that. Don’t focus on doing it all. Just one of these things will make your holidays a bit better, less stressful, and be on the same page when it comes to family expectations and dynamics. We could go into a whole thing about more family expectations and dynamics because that’s a big subject.

Brie Tucker: Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah.

JoAnn Crohn: Yeah. So remember, the best mom is a happy mom. Take care of you and we will talk to you later.

Brie Tucker: Thanks for stopping by.

Brie Tucker

COO/ Podcast Producer at No Guilt Mom
Brie Tucker has over 20 years of experience coaching parents with a background in early childhood and special needs. She holds a B.S. in Psychology from the University of Central Missouri and is certified in Positive Discipline as well as a Happiest Baby Educator.

She’s a divorced mom to two teenagers.

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