These days, as soon as November hits, we are bombarded with all things holiday. From advertisements, to recipes, to school events and water cooler chatter, we just cannot escape the frenzy of this supposedly joyous time of year. However, for those going through a divorce, the holiday season may be more depressing than delightful. Family traditions are altered, children are struggling, and finances are often tight. Nonetheless, there are some steps that you can take to try and make the holidays happy despite your divorce:
1) Think About Your Budget – Finances are frequently a concern during a divorce especially if one party is not working and is solely dependent on the other for financial support. Nonetheless, if you are able to talk with your spouse, see if you can reach an agreement to set aside certain monies for purchasing gifts for the benefit of your children. This can be your first step in learning to communicate openly in the best interests of your kids which is a skill you will need to utilize post-divorce. If communication is impossible or your spouse is non-responsive, you may need to cut back on the materialism of the holidays and focus on the spirituality instead which is what the holidays are really about anyway.
2) Share Holiday Time – When thinking about the holidays, try and put aside your self-interest and focus on what is best for your children. Typically, this is spending time with both parents and their extended family. With professional help or directly if this is possible, try and arrive on a holiday schedule for the children that allows them to participate in as many holiday traditions as possible. If there is a conflict, be flexible. Children are more than happy to eat two Thanksgiving dinners or open presents at two different homes. What is most important is to minimize the level of stress and strife for them and for you.
3) Develop New Traditions – The holiday time brings focus to the family and family traditions. If you are going through a divorce and your family is changing, sadness and depression can take hold. To break free of these feelings, develop new traditions. Donate your time to those who are less fortunate. Visit relatives that you haven’t seen in some time. Escape on vacation.
4) Remember January Is Around the Corner – When you are going through a divorce, the holidays can feel like an eternity. You need to step back and get some perspective. January will be here sooner than you know, and oftentimes with a fresh year and a clean slate, parties are more eager to put their differences in the past and resolve their divorces. Use the downtime during the holidays to consider what you need to resolve your divorce and build a positive future.
The upheaval in life associated with a divorce is difficult any time during the year, but it is especially brutal during the holidays. Implementing the foregoing tips and relying on the support of friends, relatives and your professional team (lawyers, therapists, etc.) can assist you in surviving the holidays and moving on with your life.