Family Relationships on Holiday

A Facebook analysis found that in the United States, relationship statuses change most during two times of the year.  The first is the period between Thanksgiving and New Years.  The second is during the month of February – just after Valentine’s day.  Knowing this, we have dedicated this edition of Untangled Resolution’s newsletter to the issue of relationship stress during the holidays.

The Facebook analysis demonstrates that the holidays can be an especially stressful time for relationships.  High expectations coupled with longer than usual periods of time together can result in new conflicts developing and can make whatever conflicts already exist seem even worse.

Most families weather the stresses of the holidays quite well and enter the New Year feeling thankful for the time that they have shared with their loved ones.  However, for many families, the holidays are a time when old wounds re-surface and new fights are begun.  Still, for various reasons, family members feel it is important spend time with family and at least try to make peace for the holidays.

For difficult situations, being prepared by having a family conflict management plan in place can significantly reduce the level of stress that everyone experiences and the amount of precious time the family devotes to dealing with conflict.

For example, having key family members trained in the arts of active listening and group facilitation means that disputes can be dealt with the moment they begin to interfere with the family’s time together.  Knowing who the designated facilitators are means that disputes can be addressed without first having a fight over who addresses the conflict.  Also, having designated family dispute resolvers increases the likelihood that those involved in the dispute will sit back and allow themselves to be coached through resolving the dispute because they already know that the designated dispute resolve is not just a meddlesome know-it-all but really has the family duty to help them to address their concerns.

Many communities have mediation centers where you can ask about training in conflict resolution for families.  Resources like ( can provide information and contacts for mediators who can help.  We at Untangled Resolutions offer family conflict management plans.

What ever resource you choose, do know that with the right plan in place, your family can enjoy a peaceful and joyous time together during the holidays.

Copyright © 2010 Bathabile K. S. Mthombeni.  All rights reserved.

Time to De-Stress . . . Get a Massage!

“Self love is not so great a sin, as self neglect

- William Shakespeare’s Henry V

One of the world’s oldest healing traditions may be exactly what’s needed to help you unwind…

Receiving Western or Swedish massage can be an effective way to practice self-care, especially during the holidays when the pressures of the season can place strain on your relationships. Safe, nurturing, professional touch delivered by a skilled practitioner with therapeutic intentions can have significant positive physiological and emotional benefits that require no tools beyond human hands.

The manual techniques in Swedish massage include effleurage and petrissage, and tapotement.  I’m going to go out on a limb (may my MT family forgive me for the pun) and say that effleurage’s long gliding strokes of varying depth and the squeezing involved in petrissage are the best known techniques in Western massage for increasing relaxation in a receiver’s body.  Tapotement, which involves rhythmic, striking of the body is interesting in that it can be both sedating and stimulating depending upon how long it’s used.  When used for 20 minutes or more, it’s a wonderful tool to melt away the stress.

Your relaxation response may occur when the muscles in the back of your neck, shoulders, upper and lower back are massaged.  However, many people also report that they hold stress in their facial muscles, glutes, hands, hips and feet.  Your Massage Therapist (“MT”) should allow for individual variation and adjust your massage to meet your specific needs.

Your MT will inquire about your preferences regarding the temperature of the room and will ask you about any medical concerns that might be relevant to your work together in order to ensure your comfort and see to your well-being

Believe me when I say that your MT will appreciate it if you arrive ten minutes early to allow time to talk about health concerns that he or she should know about or to make special preparations if necessary – especially if you are a new client.

Massage professionals are always grateful for clients that have recently bathed.  If you know that you’ve been sweating all day and you absolutely cannot stop at home or at the gym to bathe, consider stopping at the corner store or pharmacy for some baby wipes to freshen up any areas of concern.  You’ll be more comfortable and your massage therapist will be appreciative, as well.  Please do not attempt to cover up body odor with perfume or cologne.  It makes for an unpleasant distraction for your therapist.  This would probably be an appropriate place to discuss the uncomfortable topic of flatulence (passing gas or “farting”). Why might this happen during a massage? Intestinal gas is present and depending upon the areas addressed in your session and the depth of your relaxation you may feel the need to expel gas.  Your massage therapist is well aware that you are human and it’s okay to let it go. It’s preferable to keeping your glutes clenched for the rest of your massage.  You want to relax, right?

Please do not be alarmed if your massage therapist discusses draping (covering your body with towels or a sheet, for warmth and for modesty, as well as to define the boundaries of what areas will receive massage) and emphasizes the non-sexual nature of his or her work. There’s a historical connection between massage and the sex trade that wise professionals acknowledge.  Maintaining professional boundaries and ethics is necessary for your protection and your MT’s protection, as well.  This is, in part, the reason that trained, professional massage practitioners sit for certification and/or licensing and are not referred to as “masseuses or masseurs.”. These individuals are considered sex trade workers.  They provide sexual services and typically do not have the professional training or adhere to the ethical standards of care that inform the practices of trained, certified or state licensed massage and bodywork practitioners.

Swedish Massage is one of many forms of bodywork that have positively contributed to the health and well-being of stressed out people for centuries.  If you or your loved ones would like more information on the benefits of massage therapy or would like to find a massage professional to rub out your stress, please visit:

Here’s to your health!

Dennis P. Owens

Copyright © 2010 Dennis P. Owens.  All rights reserved

Before You Touch The Money

Let’s say that you have decided to file for divorce and one of your main issues has been the household finances.  You might be concerned that when your spouse knows you want a divorce, he or she will be angry and seek revenge or take advantage of you by emptying the bank account or going on a crazy spending spree with your joint credit card.  The sensible thing to do would be to close or freeze the accounts.  However, think before you act.  If you decide to close the accounts, and you want to avoid legal trouble down the road, timing may be vitally important.

For example, in the State of New York once an action for divorce has been filed, it is against the law for the parties to the divorce to make major changes to their joint accounts without a court order or the written permission of the other party to the divorce.  You can use the accounts for “usual and customary” household expenses and to pay “reasonable” attorney’s fees.  However, unilaterally selling major assets and making significant changes to health insurance, life insurance and retirement accounts is forbidden (the actual text of the law can be found here:

The law becomes binding on the person who files for divorce as soon as the petition for a divorce is filed.  The law becomes binding on the person who is being divorced as soon as that person is served with the divorce papers.  What you do before you file for divorce is mostly likely up to you.  However, once you have filed, you might be legally bound not to touch the money.

You can check the website of the county court in the area where you plan to file for divorce to see whether there is such a law in that area.  Many courts provide information packets for people who chose to file for divorce on their own.  Better yet, consult an attorney or divorce mediator who practices in the area where you plan to file for divorce.  He or she can tell you what the rules are in that area.

Bathabile K. S. Mthombeni, J.D.

This post provides legal information and does not constitute legal advice.  If you need legal advice, please consult an attorney.

Copyright © 2010 Bathabile K. S. Mthombeni.  All rights reserved.

Divorced Connections on Holiday

The holidays can be an especially difficult time when there is a break-up, separation, or divorce to deal with.  In this article, founders Sandra T. and Sherry K. talk about how their need for connection when their relationships ended led them to start a website for people experiencing similar challenges.

1) Why did you start DC?

Sandra:  I felt lost after separating from my husband.  We were together for nine years.   During one of my lunches with Sherry, we wondered what people do once they are thrown back into the status of single after being with someone for so long.  It was a life with which I was no longer familiar.  Initially, we talked about making a dating website for divorcees.  The concept later evolved into a social networking site to support people going through a divorce, as I discovered that support was one of the fundamental needs that I searched for during my separation and divorce.

Sherry: We started the website for different yet similar reasons. I had recently ended a 7 year relationship and was interested in rejoining the dating scene.

2) Does divorce or a break-up impact the holidays? Friends, family, relatives.

Sandra: Definitely.  Many times, especially in the beginning, it becomes awkward during the holidays.  In some cultures, marriage is marriage with the respective families as well.  Without a good support system, the holidays can be lonely and stressful.  It’s hard for the families of the divorcing couple not to make judgments and take sides.  There are always two sides to a story.  When kids are involved, it takes effort on both sides to try not divorcing the families of the ex-spouses.

Sherry: Yes I believe it does, often times the holidays make people feel sad, which does not have to be the case!

3) How can DC be helpful during the holidays?

Sandra: We are trying to generate a community for divorcees, a place people can go and not feel so alone.  Often times we feel alone because we feel like others don’t understand the situation we are going through or we cannot find people who are compassionate since they have never experienced it themselves.  At Divorced Connections, there will be someone who understands.  We are still looking for ways to make better connections possible and to provide a more interactive site.

Sherry: DC can help people interact with others who know what they are going through and who are ready to start again.

4) How do you provide support to those recently going through a divorce?

Sandra: Divorced Connections is there to listen to your story, connect you with others who are going through similar emotional and financial experiences, and in many cases, help divorcees from falling into a depressed or hopeless state.  In America today, divorce is widely accepted and the stigma from our parents’ generation has generally worn off, but it still does exist, and Divorced Connections can allow people to get support anonymously if they choose.

Sherry: The biggest thing we offer others is a sympathetic ear to listen. The worst way to feel is that you are alone.

5) Is there anything you would like us to know?

Sandra: Our site is constantly evolving to make it better.  Suggestions are welcome; please send all inquiries and suggestions to

Sherry: That this is just the beginning, I truly believe that when one door closes another door opens. Just open your minds to the endless possibilities out there.

Copyright © 2010 Sherry K. and Sandra T.  All Rights Reserved.