How to Get Through the Holidays Without Getting Stressed Out


Holiday season is a time for peace, joy, gift-giving, and family fun. It can also be a time of stress and anxiety. We have more and more things on our to-do list and we feel under pressure to get everything done on a deadline. At least that’s how it feels to me. What’s it like for you? When I look at the non-human world at this time of year, everything is slowing down, going quiet, focused within. But the human world is speeding up, getting noisy, and focused outwardly.

As a therapist, I’ve been helping men and women live meaningful and joyful lives for fifty years now. There are many short phrases that capture deep truths. One is “happy wife, happy life,” which reminds us of the importance of having a woman that is happy in order for the men and children to be happy. But over the years I’ve found that the one thing that can make a woman happy, or miserable, is what’s going on with the man in her life.

No one has to tell you that we live in difficult times. There is increasing conflict between political parties, between countries, and between men and women. We worry about whether we will have enough money to cover our necessities or enough to help our families in the future. I’ve made it my business to understand what’s going on with men and how to help them live fully, love deeply, and make a positive difference in the world. Men who are doing these things exude confidence, power, and passion. They are a joy to be with and make everyone around them feel cared for and special.

If we could help men, we could help women, children, and the world in which we live. I may be one of the few therapists and writers who focus on men. I’ll be honest. I write books, first of all, to help me deal with the challenges in my own life. I also write books I know will help family, friends, and colleagues. If I can do that, I know I can help millions of others.

Two years ago, my wife Carlin voiced her concern about what was going on with men today. “There are so many demands put on men to be tough, strong, and silent. I wish men could get support for breaking out of the armor that society demands they wear.” Her challenge resulted in my writing 12 Rules for Good Men. I offer guidance for men to engage twelve practices that will ensure success in love and in life and helps women understand men as never before. When you order the book, you’ll also get by guide, “The Truth About Men,” for free. 

There’s so much negativity and misunderstanding about men these days, I want to set the record straight. In the Truth About Men, I offer 21 points that will help men and women understand why men are the way they are, do the things they do, and feel the things they feel.  The information is based on scientific understanding from the fields of evolutionary biology, brain science, and gender-specific medicine.

Carlin and I have been married for 40 years. She says that one of the main reasons we’ve had a joyful marriage for 40 years is that I’ve been in a men’s group for 41 years. And I’d say that her involvement in women’s groups has also contributed to our success. 

But I’ll be honest, marriage isn’t all milk and honey. It’s difficult to merge two lives together and keep things passionate and peaceful through the years. There are fights and misunderstandings, words said that we wished we hadn’t, and silences that cover words that need to be spoken.

Carlin and I had both been married and divorced twice before we met. We hoped that “the third time” was the charm, but soon realized that we would need more than a charmed life to “live happily ever after.” We both had a rather naïve view of marriage. The stages seemed simple. First, you meet that special someone and fall in love. Second, you build a life together. Third…, Well we never believed there was a third stage. If you were with the right person and you were willing to deal with a ups and downs of family life, love was all you needed.

At a certain point in each of our previous marriages, things started to get bad. We were prepared for some ups and downs, but we weren’t prepared for downs that seemed to go on for months and years. We had concluded that we must have chosen the wrong person, or that the person had changed from who they were when we met. Finally, disillusionment set in, we gave up on the marriage, and separated.

But we were committed to making a marriage work this time around. What we learned, which came as a huge surprise, was that “disillusionment,” wasn’t the beginning of the end, but a call to go deeper into the marriage, rather than withdraw. In fact, we learned that disillusionment is really the third stage of a great marriage and the key stage in a realistic journey to find real lasting love.

We put what we learned into a book, The Enlightened Marriage: The 5 Transformative Stages of Relationships and Why the Best is Still to Come. In it I take you through all five stages of love so you can finally have the relationship you’ve always dreamed of having. One of the surprising insights we learned is that all those wonderful feelings of falling in love that we associate with the first stage of love, actually can get rekindled in stage 4 and 5. We had believed that falling in love was only possible in the early stages of marriage. Not so, we found, and I’m so glad we were wrong.  If we’re willing to do the work required in stage 3, we can fall in love over and over again, for real. Here are the stages we feel are part of kind of relationship most people want:

  • Stage 1: Finding Your Soul Mate and Falling in Love.
  • Stage 2: Building a Life Together and Accepting the Ups and Downs.
  • Stage 3: Disillusionment. Here we let go of our projections, get real with each other, and heal the wounds from the past.
  • Stage 4: Real, Lasting Love. Stage 3 takes down into the darkness and messy feelings of healing old wound. Stage 4 is the reward we receive as we come back into the light.
  • Stage 5: Finding Your Calling as a Couple. We each have a personal calling, but we also have a calling as a couple which captures our unique gifts to the world.

The holidays can be full of sweetness and light, but they can also kick our butts and stress us out. But within both is the opportunity to go deeper. I offer you The Enlightened Marriage: The 5 Transformative Stages of Relationships and Why the Best is Still to Come and 12 Rules for Good Men to ease your journey.

I always like hearing from you. If you have comments or questions, just drop me an email to and put “Holiday gift” in the subject line and check out my other articles here.

The post How to Get Through the Holidays Without Getting Stressed Out appeared first on MenAlive.

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