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The best gift to give this holiday season is to genuinely forgive your spouse for the various offenses committed over the year that have been driving you crazy.

Forgiving sheds unwanted baggage and makes for a stronger marriage, says Dr. Noelle Nelson, relationship expert and author of Your Man is Wonderful (Free Press, 2009). 
 
Forgiving is not always easy. You may be sitting around the holiday dinner table, giving thanks for all the good things the year has brought. But after dinner, when Uncle Ned says “Great flat screen; let’s switch on the game,” you feel your gut twist. You remember vividly the fight with your spouse for buying something so extravagant. You scream, “it’ll take years to pay it off, what were you thinking?” and he screams that he has the right to get at least something for himself, considering that “99 percent of his paycheck goes to you and the kids.” You both end up exhausted and drop it. After all, you’re not going to divorce over a flat screen.

“Even though a topic is not longer discussed, doesn’t mean it goes away,” says Nelson. “Every time you see him surfing the channels, the bitterness churns inside you. It sours your relationship with him, because at some level, you don’t trust him not to do it again. And with the lack of trust between you, your intimacy suffers.  All because you never made it to true forgiveness.”

Forgiveness is hard, explains Nelson. Forgiveness often feels like accepting unacceptable behavior in order to preserve your relationship, or accepting an apology you’re not sure has substance to it. 
 
“Substance in an apology is composed of two things: accountability and responsibility. Accountability is your willingness to figure out which part of the problem belongs to you and which part to your mate,” says Nelson. “The wife in the above example may say ‘It wasn’t me who slapped down that credit card for a flat screen!” True, and if her and her spouse had agreed upon a budget and he blew the budget, his would indeed bear the larger share of accountability. But her accountability may have been in not setting aside any part of the budget for his–or her–personal wants and needs, instead focusing only on the family budget.”

Nelson says that responsibility portion of forgiveness is your ability to be appropriately responsible for your actions. Responsibility relies on understanding rather than judging or blaming. “Instead of coming to your partner with ‘How dare you!’ even if that’s what you are feeling, talk to him about helping you understand why he chose to do what he did. Listen with an open mind and an open heart. From understanding how each of you feel, you can look at your problems as issues to be worked out, not daggers in the heart–and forgiveness can begin.”

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I’m usually a big fan of Nordstrom, but my recent transaction with the company has made me NEVER want to shop there again!  Why you ask?  Because it took six weeks, ten phone calls to customer service, three calls to UPS and a letter to Nordstrom’s corporate headquarters to get the coat I purchased!!

I don’t know about you, but I find that sort of service unacceptable.  I ordered my coat on Sept. 20 and didn’t receive it until Oct. 30 , when I was told it would arrive in 5-8 business days! 

So what went wrong?  Apparently the coat left the Nordstrom’s warehouse via UPS.  From there, UPS “tried” to deliver the package to my second-story apartment but couldn’t find my unit (out of an eight-unit building).  Shocking, I know. 

Seeing that the UPS carrier was too lazy to walk up a flight of stairs – that’s a story for another day – there was no package notice left to alert me that the coat was sent back to Nordstrom. 

So, Nordstrom sent out ANOTHER coat and the cycle with UPS started all over again.  But here’s the kicker…Nordstrom failed to inform me (the customer) of the status of my order.  So in the meantime, I’m calling the company’s customer service and getting the runaround.  On three occasions customer service promised me the package would arrive the next day and it never did.  On two occasions they promised me a return phone call and never called back – infuriating!

Finally, four weeks after my purchase I got a UPS slip on my apartment door saying the package couldn’t be delivered.  I called UPS and they said the package had been sent back to Nordstrom.  So I called Nordstrom and they finally explained the troubles they were having with shipping and asked me for an alternative address to ship the coat (which they should have done weeks prior).  I gave them my work address and the package still didn’t show up for another 10 days!

The most disturbing part of this whole story is that I probably would never have received my coat had I not been such a squeaky wheel.  Also, I had asked for a refund for all the time I spent tracking down this coat (40 days) and Nordstrom wouldn’t give me one.  If I were you, I’d think twice when ordering from this company.  Unless you have the time to order you swimsuit in February so it’s there by June.

And let’s not let UPS off that easy.  The icing on the cake is that I got a UPS delivery a week later to my second-story apartment.  What’s that all about?!  Do their carriers pick and choose the packages they want to deliver?  If Nordstrom was smart it would switch to Fed-Ex.

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