Too much togetherness? Stress for the holidays - Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, and New Years

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Family time is a time to cherish but through the holidays it can cause stress. Follow the tips below provided by relationship therapist Dr. Bonnie Eaker Weil to make it through the upcoming holidays.

Whether or not you typically look forward to the holidays, spending time with family can cause added stress. Don't fret or feel guilty if you feel anxious or dread. "There can be such a thing as too much togetherness", says Dr. Bonnie Eaker Weil. Fortunately there are a few tips and tricks to balance even the most volatile of family functions - just remember, "expectations of 'one big happy family' can kill the holidays if people try too hard to force the issue," says Dr. Bonnie. Time together should be natural, not forced. To that end, here are a dozen tips to hep families through the holidays.

1. Have activities planned. The Nintendo Wii is the perfect example - families can communicate and be active, but still minimize expectations of intimacy

2. Stay away from heavy topics such as politics and other hot-button issues.

3. Keep things light - avoid confrontation.

4. For people that have had a previous falling out with a family member, call ahead to smooth things over a few weeks before the family event, and don't discuss it at the event.

5. Call ahead if you look forward to particular food and offer to bring it. Remind your family of the ritual of your favorite dish!

6. If you come from a chaotic, dysfunctional family keep visits short and stay at a hotel.

7. When possible host holiday gatherings on your own turf so you have control - and don't offer your home up for people to stay there.

8. Everything in balance to avoid arguments. Remember: drinking and sugary holiday goodies can lead people to be more argumentative.

9. You don't have to be super woman or man. It's OK to ask for help before or hire help. Hosts should talk over the expectations and agenda with their partner and kids so everyone's clear on the role that they'll play.

10. Tell people what to bring to minimize cost or duplicates on the part of the host.

11. Remember: Different strokes for different folks - ask people to bring movies that they like, and even extra DVD players to mitigate argument and conflict.

12. If Aunt Edie brings her favorite inedible cake, tell her it's so special you want to freeze and save for the new year (so you don't have to serve it). Same with a non-drinkable bottle of wine.

Dr. Bonnie Eaker Weil, PhD, author of the 2010 New York Times Reader’s Choice Award winning book Make Up Don’t Break Up with accompanying DVD Falling in Love and Staying In Love. Dr. Bonnie counsels couples considering breaking up, people who have committed adultery, and couples who want to strengthen their relationships damaged by resentment or unresolved anger, teaching people to “fight” to increase passion, bring back magic and restore the sizzle. Dr. Bonnie teaches Smart Heart Dialogue along with communication and connection tools, and counsel’s families and children.

Known as “The Adultery Buster” and the “No. 1 Love Expert,” she is the best-selling author of Adultery: The Forgivable Sin (adapted into a Lifetime movie starring actress Kate Jackson) Coming Nov 2011 as eBook, Make Up Don't Break Up, Finding and Keeping Love for Singles and Couples (Revised edition Feb 2010, including DVD How to Fall in Love and Stay in Love for Singles and Couples), Can We Cure and Forgive Adultery?, How Not to (S)mother Your Man and Keep a Woman Happy, and Financial Infidelity.

Dr. Bonnie has appeared on a Discovery Health documentary titled "Unfaithful" and A&E on addictions. ABC’s Good Morning America, a three-day series on NBC’s The Today Show, The Oprah Winfrey Show five times, a four day series on Fox TV regarding dating. She appears frequently on ABC, Fox, CBS and NBC News, The View, 20/20, and CNN. Visit Dr. Bonnie at http://www.DoctorBonnie.com.

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