Thanksgiving is upon us, and I would be remiss not to acknowledge this truly American holiday and all it brings to dining room tables across our fine country.

From cross-country road trips to a skip down the sidewalk, family members from near and far gather on Thanksgiving. Each seat filled at the Thanksgiving table brings a different story and a different perspective – a thought that reminds me to prepare for Thanksgiving.

As a family law practitioner, I find that ways to avoid a tense Thanksgiving feast are not unlike ways to avoid seeing a family lawyer. So, I thought I would take this seasonal opportunity to draw from both personal and professional experience to relay to you, my fine audience, ways to avoid an unhappy Thanksgiving (and an unhappy family life).


Top 5 Ways to Avoid Seeing a Family Lawyer (and a tense Thanksgiving feast):

  1. Share your gratitude for positive attributes of your loved one. Giving thanks is what Thanksgiving is all about, so expressing why you are thankful for your loved one may come more easily during this time of year – after all, you are expected to do it – and maybe with this practice, you will be able to keep it up beyond the Thanksgiving season.
  2. Do not use guilt to make yourself appealing. Like the parents who tell their children how sad they would be if Johnny does not make it home for Thanksgiving with the family, a spouse who uses guilt to make the other spouse stay only begets a bitter stay. Instead, focusing on the positive traits and the positive attributes you bring to the table, just like the parents who offer appealing incentives for the child to come home for a bit (ummm, new flat screen to watch the game), will benefit from an appreciative spouse and a thankful stay at home.
  3. Devote yourself to making positive changes. As Thanksgiving is often a time to reflect with loved ones about family history, stories and personalities, you can take time to reflect on how you can make positive changes. Drawing from past criticisms from the other spouse and your own family history and dynamics, you may find that change can be a good thing for everyone in the family.
  4. Listen to your loved one. A lot of talking happens at most Thanksgiving tables, but listening? As a family law practitioner, I often hear a client say the other spouse never took the time to listen. Listen before it is too late.
  5. Be willing to compromise. Cranberry sauce or whole cranberries, roasted turkey or fried turkey – if great-aunt Eunice insists on the cranberry sauce over the whole cranberries, it might be worth keeping peace at the feast to forego your love of the whole cranberry. Some things just are not worth fighting over, and it behooves all of us to choose wisely when to stand and when to bend.
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