For many people, the Christmas season is a time that they look forward to all year. From shopping for gifts to decorating the house, and from preparing Christmas Eve dinner to waking up early on Christmas morning, everything about the season affords the opportunity to make lasting memories with magic in the air.
But, for individuals who have recently gone through a separation or divorce, the impending Christmas season can engender very different feelings. Stress, sadness, uncertainty, and anxiety are all common, and they are all very understandable.
Dealing with the holidays following a separation or divorce can be difficult. That is the simple truth, and there is no reason to sugarcoat it. However, it is also possible to make the best of your current circumstances – if you are willing to do so. By approaching your Christmas preparations with an open mind, you may be able to find a solution that works for everyone, and that allows you to create enduring positive memories while also establishing a foundation for the future.
10 Tips for Coping with the Holiday Season Following a Separation or Divorce
If you are recently separated or divorced, what can you do to make the most of the holiday season? Here are 10 tips from the proven lawyers at Blado Kiger Bolan, P.S.:
1. Keep Things Civil
To the extent possible, try to keep things civil with your former spouse or significant other. This will help to facilitate open communication and prevent any discussions from devolving into unproductive personal attacks. Even if your former spouse or significant other is prone to becoming argumentative or combative, keep a cool head and avoid allowing his or her conduct to influence your own.
2. Try to Work Out a Plan
If you have just recently finalized your divorce or legal separation, you should have an agreement or court order that outlines your respective rights and responsibilities, and it will be important for both of you to abide by the terms that are in place. If you have separated and not yet commenced or finalized legal proceedings, then you will need to try to work out a Christmas plan that works for both of you. In any case, what you do not want is to be left to make assumptions or wonder what your former spouse or significant other might do and how it could impact your Christmas celebrations.
3. Keep Your Children Out of It
If you are a parent, your concerns around Christmas most likely relate to the impacts that your divorce or separation will have on your children. However, when it comes to deciding how you will celebrate Christmas, all discussions should take place outside of your children’s presence. Neither you nor your former spouse or significant other should try to involve your children in the process.
4. Keep Your Children’s Best Interests in Mind
While you should not involve your children in any discussions, you should make all decisions regarding how you will celebrate Christmas with your children’s best interests in mind. If you have a divorce or separation agreement or court order, this document should provide guidance; and, by law, all custody and visitation matters must reflect the best interests of the children involved. If you are still going through the process, then you should make decisions as if you were seeking to formally establish custody or visitation rights in a divorce or separation.
5. Seek Support and Advice from Friends and Family
If you find yourself struggling to cope, you should not feel shy or anxious about reaching out to your friends and family. More likely than not, they would want you to reach out. If they have had similar experiences, they may be able to provide some tips or suggestions that you can apply to your own personal circumstances this Christmas season.
6. Create Your Own New Traditions
For many people, an effective way to overcome many of the emotional challenges associated with celebrating Christmas shortly after a divorce or separation is to create new traditions. Instead of doing what you have always done, consider trying something new that will allow you to focus on the present instead of the past.
7. Be Flexible
While this is true with almost any Christmas celebration, after a divorce or separation, it is important to be flexible. By being willing to adapt your plans, you can avoid feeling like the day was ruined if it does not go exactly how you imagined, and you can help ensure that the day is enjoyable and memorable for everyone.
8. Make Time for Yourself
Between dealing with your divorce or separation and preparing for Christmas (among everything else that you normally do on a day-to-day basis), it is only natural to begin to feel overwhelmed. With this in mind, it is important to make time for yourself. Whether you use this time to double-check your to-do list or simply relax, taking time for yourself will help you avoid feeling out of control.
9. Keep Things in Perspective
When you are preparing for your first Christmas after a divorce or separation, it can be easy to focus on the present. Things probably aren’t how you thought they would be a year ago, and that can be difficult to accept. But, this Christmas is just one of many more to come; and, if you view this holiday season with a broader perspective, you can avoid dwelling too much on the negative aspects of the present circumstances.
10. Seek Help if Necessary
Finally, given the very real challenges you can face when dealing with a separation or divorce during the holidays, it is important to seek professional help when necessary. Talk to a mental health professional if you are struggling, and consult with an attorney if you need help reaching an agreement or enforcing the terms you already have in place.
Speak with the Trusted Lawyers at Blado Kiger Bolan, P.S.
At Blado Kiger Bolan, P.S., we represent current and former spouses and domestic partners in all family-related legal matters. If you have questions and would like to speak with an attorney, we encourage you to call us directly or contact us online for a free and confidential consultation.