How to Handle a Divorce Over the Holidays

Divorce at any other time of the year can be painful, but during the holidays it can be particularly gut-wrenching. On top of the stress of finalizing divorce paperwork, you have the holiday madness added to a devastating situation. If you both can’t wait for the holidays to be over before going through with your divorce, then here are some steps to see you through this time.


1. Give yourself a break.

This is not the time to fulfill some prior commitment made before you knew what you would be going through. Also, cut your kids some slack. Divorce takes an emotional toll, not just on you, but on your kids, family, and friends. If your kids are acting moody, be sympathetic and don’t expect them to just snap out of it because you would prefer they be happy. Emotions don’t work that way. Let them grieve. Let yourself grieve. Working through emotions to a more stable place is a process.

2. Focus on what is best for your kids.

When you are going through a separation, every exchange with your ex-spouse can feel like a skirmish. Because you both still need to make decisions related to your children’s care, you will be faced with times where you disagree on what to do. Try to think in terms of doing what is best for your kids and not about whose turn it is to do what, or who will have the last say. And if you do not trust yourself to calmly state your preferences or make requests, ask a friend to be your go-between when it comes to scheduling.

3. Lean on your support system.

Where you used to have two people handling the parenting duties, now it can feel like it’s just you. But that is not entirely true. We all have a support system, whether we realize it is there or not. Some support systems may be weak from lack of use, but just a little fine-tuning can bring it back to full strength. Other support systems we need to actively seek out and join.

Family and close friends often want to help but perhaps don’t know how. Don’t be shy about asking for what you need, whether it is companionship, a listening ear, or babysitting duties. There are also single-parent or divorced-parent support groups that can be a great way to connect with others in the same boat. And who can give you tips for dealing with new challenges post-divorce.

4. Get counseling.

Handling a divorce during the holidays can heighten an already difficult situation. Christmas is a season that is centered on families and couples. So those going through a divorcee can tend to feel isolated and depressed. Getting counseling or seeing a therapist is one of the surest ways to finding emotional stability once again.

Venting to a family member or close friend can take a toll on that relationship. But it is important that you don’t bottle up what you are going through. Talking through your emotions is an essential way to process and heal. But it should be done with a counselor or therapist, one who has the know-how to help you progress and can provide a safe space for you to do so.

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