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Q. My large extended family gives Christmas gifts to everyone. My husband resents the expense, but I don't want us to be the only ones who don't follow the tradition. Is there a solution?
Sallie M. Foley, M.S.W., a therapist at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, answers:
A. During a relaxed moment, calmly discuss your worries about buying -- and not buying -- for your entire clan. Then the two of you can brainstorm solutions. Homemade presents like cookies, beaded necklaces, hand-decorated photo frames or "certificates" for personal favors are both fun and inexpensive. You might agree to buy gifts only for the children. Or suggest that the whole family put together a grab bag, so each person only has to buy one gift, but everyone goes home with something nice. The key is to be open to different solutions. Neither of you may get exactly what you want, but by making decisions together, you'll reaffirm your commitment to each other.
Do you have a marital problem that you just can't seem to resolve -- over money, sex, kids, work, the in-laws? Send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. Although we can't answer questions personally, we'll choose selected letters each month for our guest therapist to answer.