Holidays can be stressful for everyone – the shopping, the weather, the family squabbles, the end of the year. But for individuals going through a divorce, the holidays take on added emotion, as they find themselves without a whole family unit for the first time. Rather than celebrating, they feel in mourning.
But the holidays need not be that stressful or such a “downer” for the soon-to-be-divorced.
The Huffington Post recently ran an article that highlights several tips to make the holidays a bit more delightful, and we thought we would share. Perhaps the best piece of advice involves planning ahead emotionally – if you can anticipate that you will feel more upset or sad in certain situations, play them through in your mind so that you defuse the emotion and come up with the best coping techniques. Other good suggestions include lowering expectations, exercising, staying away from drugs and alcohol (especially a good idea from a legal standpoint) and socializing. Another great tip – set healthy boundaries, so if you know a certain event or gathering will be too much emotionally, just tell family and friends in advance you may not attend.
Another problem that arises during the holidays – handling holiday breaks for the first time as separate parents. Because you will spend some of these days without your children for the first time, you will find yourself perhaps hurting or numb or angry. Again, working through these scenarios in advance will really help you devise the best coping strategies. Also, keep your pain away from your soon-to-be-former spouse, as generating conflict will not help anyone, especially the children, and could damage your legal position in your custody case. Stay to the schedule as set out by the court in the Parenting Plan – any non-cooperation will only hurt you when the court has to make a final decision on custody. Try to remember the holidays should be about celebrating the gifts of family, and put the children and their need for normalcy and family interaction first. If you do encounter problems with your spouse, try to resolve it calmly and informally, and if that does not work, allow your attorney to help before calling the police.
Each individual experiences the separation that takes place at this time of year during a divorce differently. If you know someone in this situation, listen a little harder and extend yourself a bit more to help. If you find yourself in this situation, do not hesitate to reach out to family, friends, a counselor or your attorney if you find yourself overwhelmed. This too shall pass.
If you have questions about holidays and divorce, contact us – we can help.