Ask Dr Jenn Mann: Navigating tricky relationship issues over the holidays

Dr. Jenn Mann joined us on Good Day LA, author of "The Relationship Fix," to help navigate some family issues that can come up over Thanksgiving.

My sister-in-law is in the process of losing weight. We're all very proud of her. The problem is, whenever we are around her, she goes on and on about what she did or did not eat that day. She makes unwelcome comments about what we are eating, and she's coming over for Thanksgiving. Is there anything we can do or say to stop this without hurting her feelings

Your sister-in-law has turned into a Dietzilla. There is nothing more boring than hearing about someone's dietary intake and nothing more annoying than having someone food shame you when you are trying to enjoy your meal.

I always recommend the sandwich technique. Start with the positive, get to the main issue and then go back to the positive. Let her know how proud of her new healthy lifestyle you are. Then, you might want to say something like "I know you are really focused on your food intake right now. While I am thrilled for you new healthy lifestyle, I am so much more interested in hearing about your work. I find what you do fascinating." Give her a new topic that you enjoying talking about with her. Then end with something positive like acknowledging what a huge accomplishment this dramatic change of diet has been for her.

Regarding the food shaming, it is time to make boundaries. The next time she makes a comment, just let her know "I really don't like when you comment about my food. I need to ask you to stop doing that."

Our son is in his mid 30's and has had a hard time finding steady work. He moved back in with my husband and I about 4 years ago. He is respectful, does his own laundry, and helps around the house. My family is coming for Thanksgiving and feel he milks this free ride, and since he pays no rent, and his car is paid for, his only expenses are gas, and his cell phone which he pays for. It bothers them, but it doesn't bother me. What do I say when they bring it up? It's none of their business.

Everybody has a right to an opinion and we all have a right to not have to listen to someone else's unsolicited opinion. You can simply let them know that you appreciate their concern, you have made your choice to help support him and if you are looking for a new perspective that you promise you will reach out to them.

That said, as a therapist I have to offer my (sort of solicited) opinion. You are enabling your son. You are keeping him dependent and preventing him from being prepared for an adult life. I cannot help but wonder about your relationship with your husband. Why do you need a human body shield in your house? What does your son help you to avoid in your marriage? Why don't you want privacy with your spouse? Families operate in a system and it is important to look at the system you and your husband are creating.

I once had a couple in my practice who allowed their adult daughter to move back in to the house. They helped create a lifestyle that would have been very difficult to recreate on her own if she left. Her parents kept her incentivized to stay living at home. When we explored it, they realized that she was a great distraction from the lack of emotional intimacy in their marriage. Having her at home allowed the mother to get emotional needs met with her daughter when her husband was unwilling to meet them because of a long history of unresolved resentments. When we finally got the daughter out of the house and worked on the marriage, everything turned around.

At Thanksgiving, my wife & I invite my brother and his family to our home. We try to make our dinner fun and festive, so a lot of planning goes into the menu. Every year, a day before, my brother calls to ask what's on the menu, then offers his unwanted opinion on what we're serving. Last year he wasn't able to enjoy the meal because we weren't serving items he feels are "traditional" in our family. When I was unwilling to accommodate his "simple" request, he got upset. I'm on the verge of not inviting his family. What should I do?

It's time for a pot luck Thanksgiving dinner! That way your brother can bring the food that is important to him, everyone gets to share a dish they love and you get to lighten your cooking load.

If your brother complains after that. Just let him know, "We have a new no complaining policy about the food. Please use your feedback to alter what you bring next year for our pot luck Thanksgiving. We look forward to trying new dishes!"

Usually when people are that worked up, it is really about something else. Maybe he misses your deceased mother and her mash potatoes are symbolic of her loving and nurturing presence? Maybe the holidays bring back old sad memories so he is overly focused on the food to distract from his pain? I wonder what this is really about.

My daughter just got engaged and during Thanksgiving we're getting together to talk about the wedding. Usually the bride's family pays for certain portions of the wedding and reception, while the groom's family pays for the rehearsal dinner, among other things. But what are the rules for same-sex marriages? I'm confused about the financial etiquette. Is everything split evenly?

The bad news is that there are no clear etiquette rules for same sex weddings. Emily Post missed this one. The good news is, because there are no rules, you get to make them up. You can all sit down together to talk about what the brides have in mind, what they were hoping for financially from both families and what you are able to do. I recommend having the brides to be come to the dinner with a list of all the potential expenses so that you can get a clear idea of what is ahead.

Keep in mind the following:

-- Get a sense of what the brides' expectations are. Do they expect a sit down dinner at a five star hotel or do they want to get married barefoot on the beach with close family only? Getting a sense of scale and expectations will help you plan.
-- You don't have to commit to a percentage or specific sum of money that you will contribute in the first conversation. It is fair to say, "Let us look at out finances and get back to you."
-- You may want to give the brides a sum of money that works for you as opposed to committing to specific functions (i.e. the catering, the band, etc.). This allows them to prioritize what is important to them and let you stay within budget.
-- Find out if the brides are planning to contribute too. More and more couples are choosing to contribute to their wedding, especially more established adults.
-- If there is something that is really important to you at the wedding, let it be known so that activity, food or music and can included when estimating the cost.

Understand that this is the first in a series of conversations. People can get anxious and tense around money. Do your best to stay calm and keep the conversation going. Never lose sight of the fact that this is about celebrating love, connection and a future together for your daughter and her wife to be.

Copyright 2017 FOX 11 Los Angeles : Download our mobile app for breaking news alerts or to watch FOX 11 News | Follow us on Facebook , Twitter , Instagram and YouTube .