Relationship Fitness

S17: Focus E6: Eating Turkey?

In “Relationship Workout for Men,” Season 17 Episode 6 titled “Eating Turkey?” Vince shares a personal story reflecting on the challenges and setbacks faced when blending traditions and expectations within a relationship. This episode unfolds around the planning of the couple’s first Thanksgiving dinner together, revealing the tension between maintaining personal traditions and accommodating each other’s desires. Vince discusses how financial stress and family uncertainties can act as potential setbacks, testing one’s gumption and ability to maintain excitement and joy for shared traditions. Through navigating these challenges, Vince emphasizes the importance of communication, flexibility, and the mutual agreement that “there was no bad decision,” showcasing how empathy and understanding can transform potential conflicts into moments of connection and shared satisfaction.

Welcome to Relationship Workout for Men, a podcast dedicated to helping men be intentional in choosing a better partner, and being a better partner for the person they choose.

Season 17 Episode 6: Eating Turkey?

This is a personal story about a Setback Gumption Trap.

Thanksgiving was a month away. This was going to be the first Thanksgiving my girlfriend and I would be spending together.

Unfortunately, we both had different traditions. For years, I’d been hosting an elaborate, what I liked to call gourmet Thanksgiving dinner at my place with friends and family. 

On the other hand, for years, she had been hosting a Thanksgiving at her place with her family. 

We both felt quite attached to our annual Thanksgiving traditions. A month before the event, and after much discussion, the issue was resolved. It was decided that Thanksgiving was going to be at my place. Her family would be invited and we’d both share in cooking the off-the-hook, gourmet feast.

It was Tuesday evening and we had just returned from grocery shopping. I was feeling a bit shell-shocked. The unexpected $400 grocery tab left me feeling more than a bit worried. I was abruptly reminded that serving gourmet isn’t cheap. How was I going to pay the next month’s credit card bill, especially with Christmas shopping still left to do? Not to mention, the economy was going into a recession and my job had become a lot less secure. My mind started to spin on the worst-case scenarios.

A potential gumption setback was sitting there waiting. The longer my mind spun out of control on these negative thoughts, the more vulnerable I was to having all my excitement around Thanksgiving get sucked dry, like an overdone turkey. 

I decided to let it go. What was I going to do now? Take the groceries back? Call everyone and let them know we were going to have hot dogs and potato chips for dinner instead?

No. What was done was done. No need to ruin the excitement about tradition now, although I did make a mental note not to be so gourmet the next year.

Suddenly the phone rang. My girlfriend’s sister had an unexpected change of plans and now it was unclear whether she’d be coming. Like a snowball set in motion, uncertainty around her sister coming brought uncertainty around whether her mother and father would come.

Another potential setback gumption trap. 

Here we thought the issue was resolved around how and where Thanksgiving would be celebrated. Unfortunately, an external circumstance had emerged that brought the issue right back in our faces. In my girlfriend’s mind, her decision to have Thanksgiving at my place was partially based on the assumption that her family would also be attending.

What made the issue tougher now was that the issue was originally discussed within the relative tranquility of Thanksgiving being a whole month away. Now the issue was being discussed with the turkey needing to be put in the oven within 36 hours.

Her understandably initial reaction was to consider canceling us hosting thanksgiving dinner together at my place, and figure out how to return to her normal Thanksgiving plans which was to have dinner with her family. But just the idea of this raised my frustration level several notches as I had already invested a ton of money buying all the Thanksgiving ingredients, and it felt way too late for me to invite friends to my house.

The solution: We made it clear that whatever was decided was okay. There was no bad decision. For instance, if she wanted to go back to her original tradition of cooking for her family, that would be fine. After all, her fundamental need was to eat with her family.

Ultimately, the resolution was to push back the time we ate at my house by two hours — a time when all her family could attend.

A simple solution indeed, but I can tell you at the moment when she was told her family wasn’t going to make Thanksgiving dinner at my place, the anxiety and temperature in the room between us felt high enough to get that expensive turkey roasting a day early.

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