Q: I’ve got a problem! Thanksgiving is coming up, which means I’m going to have to sit around the table with the rest of my family. Nothing odd about that, but as it happens, they’re all conservative Republicans, and I’m the solitary liberal of the flock. With Obama now into a second term, a political discussion (and invariably a heated one) is bound to transpire over the turkey and stuffing, being that they basically blame me for Obama’s victory, and for being a flag-burning, immoral socialist. It’s going to be ugly. How do I effectively and graciously avoid being sucked into that fight this holiday? —Lone Lefty
Dear Lone Lefty,
While you’re chewing the fat with your family, think of the bone you refuse to pick. It’s your choice either to get into a heated political discussion or not. If you believe, “It’s going to be ugly,” it will be. So change what will transpire by pre-programming yourself with a powerful mindset before you break bread.
For example, when Aunt Rose mocks you with her usual "left wing" label, laugh her off and, with a smile, lightly assert, “Oh, Auntie, I love your chiding.” Change the subject, your eye contact and your body language as you address another family member on another topic. You’re not buying into your relatives’ foolishness. End of story. There! Don’t you feel better already?
This technique gets your family to realize this Gilda-Gram: “You can’t fight an opponent who won’t.” Best yet, this strong skill will serve you for life. Happy Thanksgiving! —Dr. Gilda
Q: I have been divorced almost 10 years, with two adult daughters with my ex. Unusual as it may seem, I have a great relationship with her and value our previous time together and her mothering, without romantic interest. We communicate via text/email/phone a dozen times a year regarding kids, college, bills and family members, and we meet for birthdays, holidays and crises. I have been dating a woman for over a year, and for the holidays, we received an invitation to a gathering hosted by my ex and her live-in boyfriend. Attending are both my daughters and his.
My girlfriend met my ex and says she felt snubbed. She does not want us to attend, and feels my good relationship is wrong. Should I not attend and miss time with my daughters, harboring resentment because of it? She says that if we took a survey, the majority of people would feel as she does. I think we should count our blessings that I have such good rapport with my ex. Am I wrong? —Pulled in Two Directions
There are never rights or wrongs in opinions and emotions. Differences are especially pronounced during holidays, when people feel compelled to “make nice.” This causes tension—but it also clarifies issues formerly ignored.
Congratulations for having maturely traversed divorce, with a healthful example for your children. These days, some former couples take trips together with their kids and new partners to maintain family bonds. You and your girlfriend have conflicting values: She holds grudges, while you embrace love.
Use your disagreement to take stock. Is rancor and resentment what you want to keep around? When you find that answer, you’ll know what to do next. —Dr. Gilda
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Dr. Gilda Carle is the relationship expert to the stars. She is a professor emerita, has written 15 books, and her latest is “Don’t Bet on the Prince!”—Second Edition. She provides advice and coaching via Skype, email and phone.
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