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  • Writer's picturePam Blizzard

How to Set Boundaries at the Holidays

Updated: Dec 6, 2023

"Celebrating" the holidays after betrayal is extremely difficult. Pam Blizzard, boundaries expert and Room to Heal group facilitator, came to Charlotte to help partners design a plan that addresses their emotional needs this season. Please find the video below along with a recap of keypoints from the presentation.

Why the Holiday Season is Hard for Betrayed Partners:

  1. OPE: Other Peoples Expectations

  2. Pressure to be in a holiday spirit: Merry, Happy, Joyful, Light, to be “okay” when we’re just not

  3. Anticipating the exhaustion to decorate, shop, wrap, write cards, cook, clean, host, or travel

  4. Worry over inability to keep up appearances that everything is “fine”

  5. Pressure to keep secrets, or tell what’s going on in your relationship

  6. Anxiety over “making” holidays for kids, making it memorable

  7. Dreading conversations with family members who don’t understand

  8. Wondering if my partner will be able to support me and my challenges

Instead, let's:

  • Acknowledge this is trauma and it has major impact to your health

  • Prioritize your mental health over other relationships

  • Honor your top personal core values

  • Identify what’s important to YOU at the holidays. Surround yourself with people, normalcy, tradition, structure, the way we’ve always done it, distractions of cards, cooking, decorating OR embrace solitude, slowing down, taking a break from traditions and creating new ones focus on me and what’s really happening with me, rest from tasks

  • Give yourself permission to put your mental and physical health first

  • Encourage yourself to make more space healing and recovery work

  • Tune into our bodies to sense and trust what feels right or wrong for you

Do Something Different - Put Your Needs First

  • Say “Yes” to healing and recovery space and work

  • Give ourselves safety with boundaries

  • Give ourselves stability with learning emotional regulation skills

  • Say, “No” to what doesn’t put our mental health first

  • Let others do things for themselves, even if it’s not “the way you’d like it done”

  • Ask for help, even if it’s not “the way you’d like it done”

  • Inform others you’re going to do things differently this year

  • Take advantage of paid services like house cleaning and decorating, Instacart or Walmart Plus pickup or shipping, Amazon for gifts, precooked meals

  • Protect our needs and values with boundaries

How to Communicate Your Boundaries | Nonviolent Communication Method

This method is based on needs and your personal core values.

Simple request formula:

  • Because I value _____ _____

  • Would you consider _____ _____

Example: Because I value my privacy/peace/serenity. Would you consider not traveling this year to your mothers.

Simple boundaries formula:

  • When _____ observation, experience__

  • I feel _____ Emotions words__

  • If you _____ hurtful/damaging behavior __

  • I will_____ how I will care for myself and insulate from you__

Example: When you don’t agree to help with the gift shopping for the children. I feel overwhelmed, anxious, exhausted, resentful. If you don’t agree to help with the gift shopping for the children. I will not confer with you on what gifts to get them, and do the shopping entirely on my own, according to what I think is best for them and our budget.

Expect Pushback and Be Ready with Your Response

• Acknowledge their discomfort with empathy, “I see how hard this is for you.” “That has to be hard.” “I hear you saying how ____ this is for you

• Restate the boundary

• Acknowledge the discomfort again

• If pressed, you can say, “I’m not ready to talk about it right now.”

• Change the subject if you have to afterwards

• Accept that other people get to be “wrong” and it’s not your job to change that

5 Steps Success Path to Effective Boundaries After Betrayal

• Bring all you focus and attention back to yourself, not your partner

• Learn the who, what, when, where and why of boundaries

• Plan to enforce before you need to, what you’ll do, where you’ll turn

• Communicate with love and empathy

• Get support from a group of other women going through the same thing



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