Dear Barb—Hot Tub Games and Christmas Anxiety!

Dear Barb:

My husband and I have been friends with another couple for the past five years.  We have traveled together and often hang out on the weekends.  A few weeks ago we were all in our hot tub when Maureen took off her bathing suit top.  I was totally shocked, but my husband seemed somewhat entertained by her actions, while Maureen’s husband seemed to share my reaction.  After a few awkward moments Maureen put her top back on, and nothing was mentioned for the rest of the evening.  After they left, I talked to my husband who said “oh, it was nothing, she was just playing around.”  But I was upset by it, and we ended up in a big fight.  We haven’t seen them since.  I am concerned about whether we should continue to socialize with them.  My husband thinks I’m overreacting.  What do you think? I think if we added some alcohol or weed to the situation, things could get out of hand.  Shocked in B.C.

Dear Shocked:

I think your concerns are reasonable.  Your friend probably was looking for a certain reaction, perhaps from the men.  It might be a good idea to discuss this with her, as it was an inappropriate thing to do and I would be concerned what she might do next.  Also, your husband’s reaction seemed a bit strange as well.  How would he feel if you were the one taking your top off? I would probably put a bit of distance in your relationship with this couple.  Hope this helps.

Dear Barb:

Christmas is quickly approaching, and I feel the anxiety building.  My family is stressing about who is going to do Christmas dinner and at whose house.  I have tried to get my family to skip Christmas presents, since we are all adults, but they couldn’t all agree.  My younger sister still wants gifts as does my brother.  My parents are older and living on a fixed income, so they really can’t afford to buy gifts for everyone.  I would like to keep my Christmas stress to a minimum this year; do you have any suggestions that I could use to stop the stress before it escalates? Thanks, Tammy.

Hey Tammy:

You’re right about Christmas approaching way too quickly.  Every year families stress out about the same things, and every year they end up doing the same thing over and over.  To minimize your Christmas stress, you have to identify what is causing the stress and change that situation.  For example, make gift giving easier by putting names in a hat and everyone choosing one, or alternate who will be hosting Christmas dinner: begin with the oldest sibling and each year move to the next.  It looks like you’re going to be the one who implements this initially.  You will definitely meet some resistance but persevere and eventually everyone will realize their stress is reduced and they are enjoying the true meaning of Christmas, which is to get together with family.  Merry Christmas Tammy.