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Relationship Advice For The Holidays: Avoiding In-Law Drama

Written by Jackie Pilossoph. Posted in in laws and divorce, Marriage advice, relationship advice, Second marriage

relationship advice for the holidays

relationship advice for the holidays

In my “Love Essentially” column, published yesterday in Sun-Times Media local papers, I give relationship advice for the holidays that involves minimizing in-law drama. Not only is this something you need to read if you feel you are constantly on thin ice with your in laws, but it will make your holidays so much smoother and more enjoyable!

Navigating the Holidays and Your In-Laws by Jackie Pilossoph

There is so much to be thankful for on Thanksgiving – good health, loved ones, friends, a nice home and delicious food. But there’s one thing that many men and women don’t particularly give thanks for on Thanksgiving Day: their in-laws at the dinner table!

I might be wrong, maybe you adore the woman who bore your husband or the man who still calls your wife his baby girl. But for many, holiday celebrations – including Thanksgiving – can cause tension and stress, especially in a marriage where the wife and her mother in-law just don’t click.

Dr. Deanna Brann, Ph.D, is a licensed clinical psychotherapist and author of the book “Reluctantly Related: Secrets To Getting Along with Your Mother-in-Law or Daughter-in-Law.” I asked Brann for some in-law tips that could help make the holidays smooth, happy and drama free!

1. Establish ground rules in advance: If you are going to your in-laws house for Thanksgiving, agree on a time your family is going to leave. Or, take two cars and let your spouse enjoy his or her family without feeling rushed, while you go home when you’d prefer.

2. Be a team player: If Thanksgiving dinner is at your home, include your mother-in-law in some of the preparation so she can feel like she’s a part of it. Ask her to bring an appetizer or help you set the table or just ask, “Would you sit and talk with me while I make the salad?” In other words, make her feel important and wanted.

3. Don’t take things personally: Women have a tendency to do this. Add the stress of the holidays and you could get yourself all worked up over an innocent comment that was not intentionally meant to hurt you.

4. Laugh!: We all have a Norman Rockwell painting in our heads when it comes to the holidays. We want everything to be perfect. Since that so rarely happens, we set ourselves up for disappointment, so when one thing goes wrong, the drama begins. The best philosophy is to laugh! So what if your daughter-in-law cooked the turkey a little too long or if your mother-in-law doesn’t realize that margarine isn’t healthy, who cares? It’s only one day!

Click here to read the rest of the article, including MY tips, published yesterday in Sun-times Media suburban papers!  


10 Reasons to be Thankful on Thanksgiving, Despite Your Awful Divorce

Written by Jackie Pilossoph. Posted in coping with divorce, divorce advice, Holidays, newly separated



awful divorce

That first Thanksgiving when you’re newly separated can be brutal. It’s hard to feel thankful when you’re trying to cope with your awful divorce, and all you can think about is that your marriage is over, your kids are crying, finances might be tough, and the future seems bleak.

BUT, in the words of Taylor Swift, I want you to shake it off and really focus on all the things you have to be thankful for this Thanksgiving! Here are 10 reasons to be thankful, and I’m really getting back to basics here because I think it is important not to lose sight of all the miracles—the gifts that are occurring FOR YOU every second.

1. YOUR KIDS. You might despise your ex right now, but without him or her, you wouldn’t have the people you love and cherish most on this earth. Take the focus off of “what HE did,” or “how SHE is acting” and hug, kiss, and LOVE your children. Feel gratitude that you have them and that they are healthy.

2. Your health. I recently had a little health scare and I know it sounds trite, but it really changed my attitude about a lot of things in life. When I thought something might be wrong with my health, I realized how unimportant money was, how little fighting about petty things meant, and how much my loved ones (my kids and boyfriends and family) rallied around me. HEALTH is everything. EVERYTHING.

3. Your family. Think about each family member individually and what they have taught you in life, what you admire and love about them, and why you are grateful for them. My mom, dad, siblings and other family members are treasures that I hold close to my heart.

4. Your friends. How important are they to you? Call and tell them!

5. Your dog? If you are a dog person, you have something that non-dog people don’t have. Its special and important.

6. Food, whether it’s on the table or in your fridge. Ok, so your ex has the kids this year and it’s killing you. You might not even have Thanksgiving dinner plans, and you might be sitting in front of the TV eating leftover Chipotle. So what?! You aren’t going hungry. Have gratitude for the food you are eating, no matter what it is. You can have a Thanksgiving dinner with your kids when they get back. Do it! It’s no different than the actual day. You can make it special!

7. A roof over your head. Again, maybe you are sleeping home alone on Thanksgiving and your kids are with your ex and his new wife. Say to yourself, “Who cares?” I will be in my warm bed in my home, and my kids will be coming home in a couple days. Also, if alone, I’d highly recommend renting “Homeland.” You will be so into the show, you will stay up all night watching episodes that you will thoroughly enjoy (with your jaw on the ground for hours at a time!). Trust me on this one!

8. The things that go right every day that you don’t even realize. Instead of focusing on what is wrong right now, try to realize how much is going right. Every morning, you wake up, you turn on your lights. They work. You make coffee. Your coffee pot works. You enjoy it. You go workout. You feel good. You go to work. You get a paycheck. Try to appreciate all that is going right, not your ex’s bad attitude or your loneliness (which I promise is temporary!)

9. Your bad marriage behind you. If you think about it, even if the divorce wasn’t your choice, you are better off now than you were in your destructive marriage. The truly bad part—the fighting or cheating or abuse or lying—is behind you. You are on your way to a better life, whereas when you were still together, you were not.

10. The rest of your life. Do you realize how powerful this is?! Don’t waste another day feeling sorry for yourself. You have the ability to go out and grab the life you really want. So much is in your control. Your actions, the way you treat others, your drive and determination and your love will all contribute to your happy, happy, happy ending!

Happy Thanksgiving!!



Divorce Advice: A Night Out With A Bunch of Divorced People

Written by Jackie Pilossoph. Posted in life after divorce, newly separated, Over 40


divorce advice


I am constantly giving divorce advice that answers e-mails I receive from readers. But for this post, I thought I’d offer some advice based on what happened to me last Wednesday night.

I’ll start from the beginning. I was headed to a suburban restaurant to meet a close friend for a quiet dinner. Since I hadn’t seen her in awhile, I was looking forward to catching up. I invited another friend of ours (a divorced guy) to join us. It would be a mellow and short evening, and I was looking forward to it.

When I entered the restaurant, I noticed that my friend’s sister was there (who I love.) I was happy, and I knew the evening would still be the same—lots of girl talk and laughing. Enter our guy friend with some girl, who didn’t seem particularly friendly. It was awkward. Uncomfortable. I’m thinking, ‘I don’t get to go out that often and I really don’t want to deal with some girl who is going to be rude to me.’

Shortly after, an old friend of mine (who is also friends with our guy friend) walks in. Now I am ecstatic, because I love this girl and we lost touch awhile ago, something I really regret. She is with a friend who was instantly likable.

Then there’s this guy sitting at a table next to our big table eating dinner alone. I start talking to him. He is from London, lives in Boston but he’s here for work. He’s so sweet. Divorced. I tell him to join our table after his dinner. He seems unsure.

Then a couple other guys walk in. One is friends with the original girl I was meeting there, and one is a friend of someone else there.

I then spot a woman I know a few tables over having dinner with her girlfriend. They join us.

This is key. What I began observing after several minutes was a connection of some sort. Everyone walked in not really knowing anyone, yet they seemed to be warming up. People were in deeper conversations. They were smiling, laughing at times, and just seemed at ease with each other.

If you compare the beginning of the night, when everyone seemed a bit guarded to the end of the night, when everyone at the table was joking and laughing about the colonoscopy procedure, an outside observer would have thought we’d all been friends for years.

Why the instant connection? It hit me. We all had divorce in common. With the exception of one girl, every single person at the table (at least a dozen people) had gone through a divorce, so there was an instant commonality and a comfort that didn’t take long to surface.

Here are the lessons I learned during the night:


  1. Don’t be so quick to judge. The girl I originally thought was rude was anything but! After drinking a little bit, relaxing and getting to know each other, I have to say this girl is a sweetheart. She probably felt strange and maybe insecure. I found out the next day she had just ended a very long term relationship. I am kind of ashamed of myself for not being more open minded right off the bat. I feel like I made a new friend, which is gift I always enjoy receiving.
  2. Let strangers in. The English guy ended up being the life of the party. He was hilarious. When I left, he was still in there, socializing away! We did a nice thing inviting him into our circle. Living in a foreign country and traveling every week probably leaves little time for meeting people. Perhaps we gave him a much needed friend night out.
  3. Embrace the unforeseen. What I thought was going to be a quiet dinner turned into a party. Things usually don’t turn out the way you intend and that can be a good thing sometimes!


The biggest thing I can share with newly separated men and woman is this. Make friends with other divorced people. Both male and female. Don’t worry so much about meeting someone romantically. Just having a group of friends to call and get together with anytime you want is really a gift. Focus on new friendships that are platonic. The dates and relationships will follow, as you will meet others through this group. But more importantly, you will be part of something—a group that will include you in all these really fun nights out. And anytime you feel like going out, you have someone to call.

People always tell me how difficult it is to meet someone. My advice: THIS is how you meet someone. AND, it’s how you develop new friendships, have fun and move on from your divorce.


Should This Woman Get Divorced Because Her Husband Has No Sex Drive?

Written by Jackie Pilossoph. Posted in Marriage advice, Sex, Thinking of separating


husband has no sex drive

Below is a comment I received from a woman seeking advice and considering divorce because her husband has no sex drive.

I have been married 10 years and I want a divorce. I love my husband so much it hurts to have to tell him I am leaving. We have been fighting for 4 years now, since my dad died, and even more so for the last year, since my mom died. Mainly it’s because I need more sex and intimacy.

 I feel so lost without my parents and I need that human contact and he can’t seem to find it important enough to give it to me. He says he loves me but doesn’t have a sex drive any more.

 He is in his mid 40′s and healthy. It seems the more I ask about it the more he holds it back from me. I can’t take it any more!!!! We use to make love almost every other day for 5 years. Then excuses happened all the time. I’m too tired. My hip hurts. Maybe tomorrow. Then that never happens.

 I am frustrated and refuse to keep pleasing myself when I am married. If I have to do everything myself, why should I be married?? Help!


When I read something that says “I want a divorce” and “I love my husband so much it hurts” in the same paragraph, my instinct tells me you do not want a divorce. Which is great! People who have checked out of a marriage don’t typically say “I love my husband so much it hurts.”

There are a few things going on here that need addressed, the first being that you are dealing with the death of your parents. That has to be incredibly painful and life altering. I’m so sorry for you. But, I suspect it is playing a huge role in your emotions and wish to divorce. Any therapist will tell you not to make a decision like divorce while you are still mourning the death of a loved one.

Now, about the sex. You really have to find out what the issue is. I do not buy “I have no sex drive.” There is a reason your husband doesn’t want sex. He might feel badly about himself, he might even be depressed. Or, he might be cheating, (I don’t mean to scare you, but it is a possibility).

You need to talk to him. I mean, really talk to him. Ask him in a very nice way. Say this to him: “I love you so much it hurts. You are the love of my life. I want us to be together forever. I don’t want anyone else. I don’t want you to want anyone else. But with that kind of love comes sex, and I want to have sex with you. Often. Like we used to. If you really love me and you want a happy, healthy marriage, let’s please work on this together. I will do whatever it takes, whatever you need. I want you. Forever. Do you?”

The two of you can consider therapy, or he could go to therapy himself. He could also have low testosterone, which is causing his low sex drive, so he could have that checked out with his doctor.

Also, you guys could try spicing things up a bit. Here is part of a comment I received in response to your comment that I thought was great:

What options have you tried so far? Maybe spice things up a little bit….toys, role playing, different times of day, different rooms, or new cities/states, etc. can be a new way of introducing something fun and enjoyable for both of you. Yes, sex can get to a point in a marriage where it is routine and boring, but it doesn’t have to be. There is so much more to a marriage than the bedroom.

 In closing, I get so many e-mails and comments from people considering divorce and their situations are much worse than yours. In other words, yours seems like a marriage worth saving. But the bottom line is, your husband needs to listen to your needs. If he continues to do nothing, you will eventually cheat and/or leave. I truly hope he is smart enough and cares enough to fix it before it gets to that point.



Relationship Advice for Couples who Have Different Social Agendas

Written by Jackie Pilossoph. Posted in relationship advice, Second marriage

relationship advice   relationship advice

In my “Love Essentially” column this week (published today in Sun-Times Media local publications) I offer relationship advice for couples who have different ideas of what their social life as a couple should be.

Couch Potato Vs. Party Girl-A Relationship Issue? by Jackie Pilossoph

A close friend of mine recently turned 50. In honor of her huge milestone, her husband threw her a party at Glenview’s Potato Creek Johnny’s with about 100 of their friends, 95 percent who were couples.

As I made my way around the bash, talking to friends, sipping wine and munching on cheese curds, jalepeno poppers and of course, birthday cake, I made an observation that wasn’t new, but confirmed: girls talk, men really don’t.

I’m not saying men stand there and say nothing, but as I looked around the room, I noticed the women were chatting non-stop, the only exception being to take a sip of their drink. The men, on the other hand were doing a lot more eating and watching the band.

Where am I going with this? I think that by nature, many men are more introverted than women. They’re shier, they tend to listen more than talk, and conversations are shorter. Think about it. If a girl asks another girl, “What’s new?” the answer turns into a 10-minute conversation. The same question from a guy to a guy probably results in “Not much, Dude. You?”

So, can these fundamental differences in men and women cause relationship issues? Maybe. Just because a man might be quiet, it doesn’t mean he doesn’t enjoy cocktail parties. But what about the man who dislikes crowds? The man who would rather spend a Saturday night watching Netflix versus having dinner with his wife and three other couples at a nice restaurant?

I was recently talking to a friend who said she and her husband often argue because she prefers to socialize much more than he does. She said the two, who have three young children are constantly battling because when Saturday night rolls around, she wants to get a babysitter and have grown-up plans and he’s all about staying in and ordering a pizza.

To help address this conflict… (click here to read the rest of the article in Sun-Times Media local.) GREAT advice from a top-notch therapist, and of course, I give my two cents.



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