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Handling Divorce During the Holidays

Divorce is never simple and easy– but going through a divorce during the holidays can be especially difficult for each spouse and their families. With the holidays quickly approaching, going through a divorce at this time of year can bring on some unique challenges. From coordinating schedules with kids when they are off from school to whose house they spend which nights at, to all of the heaviness of emotions of spending the holidays without a partner.  

It’s entirely normal and even expected to feel a range of emotions when going through a divorce during the holidays– from grief, anxiety, and sadness, surviving the holidays during a divorce can be stressful and exhausting. Doyle Divorce Law understands the complex mix of emotions associated with going through a divorce during the holidays. 

Our expert team of Raleigh divorce lawyers has some practical tips to help you get through the holidays because we know you deserve to find some peace and joy this holiday season. 

What to Expect from Divorce During the Holidays

Any holiday can spark a new range of emotions you did not expect to encounter during your journey navigating through a divorce. Whether it’s Christmas, birthdays, anniversaries, or ringing in the new year, days of the year that hold sentimental meaning or were important for past family traditions can be exceptionally difficult during holidays. 

Who is Affected by the Divorce During the Holidays? 

Even if you are the spouse who initiated and filed for the divorce or if you chose to leave your marriage due to being in a domestic abuse situation or simply because you were unhappy in your relationship– even people who choose divorce can feel a wide range of confusing emotions when holidays arise.  If you did not want the divorce, but your spouse did, you may be feeling resentment, anger, abandonment, and a lot of feelings of distress and loneliness. 

Furthermore, consider your family. If you have children, they are most likely confused and feel like the normal, happy holidays have now turned into constantly seeing their parents fight, not being together as a family anymore, and disruptions to the normal traditions they’ve come to know and love. 

On top of what your immediate family experiences during the divorce process, during the holidays you have to field questions from family and friends wondering what happened, wanting details and updates on the status of your separation, and maybe even making you feel guilty about the entire situation. 

This holiday season may present some new challenges you have not faced before because you are going through a divorce, but it is important to put you and your children (if you have them) as your top priority during the holiday season. 

Prioritize Yourself and Your Children

With a lot of people pulling you in different directions and giving you their own opinions or asking questions about your divorce, right now is the time to take care of and prioritize you and your children. Try new things to bring forth new traditions, be proactive in ensuring your children have a low-conflict holiday with the other parent, reach out to family and relatives for support, and think of the good things that have happened in your life the past year.

6 Tips for Surviving the Holidays During a Divorce

This holiday season may have brought on many negative feelings related to the divorce, but it’s important to prioritize self-care, reach out for help if needed, and adopt a positive mindset in order to give yourself the time you need to heal and process all the feelings associated with divorce during the holidays– but, how do you accomplish these things? 

Let’s explore our top 6 tips for surviving the holidays during a divorce. 

#1: Make Arrangements for Your Children with Your Former Spouse

If you have children and you do not have a formal agreement regarding holiday custody you need to discuss this NOW with either your divorce attorney or the other parent. You cannot wait until the day before a transition from one parent to the other to have this conversation. 

Holidays are emotional for both parents, and for some, this is the first Christmas morning, New Year's Eve, or Hanukkah that they will not experience with their children. It can be hard to put together an arrangement given the emotions involved. Have the discussion of where the kids will spend which days early so everyone– including both parents and the children– has time to process the decision.

#2: Be Careful What You Say About Your Former Spouse

Don’t speak negatively of the other party or allow others to do so in front of your children. While you may not be your ex-spouse’s biggest fan, that person is still your child’s father or mother. Children can become very hurt, defensive, resentful, and as though they are pawns in your battle with one another when they hear negative comments about their parents.

Remember, your child is a part of each of you, so when you are speaking negatively about their other parent, they feel it is a negative statement about them. You may want to privately remind friends and relatives too if you have any that may be a bit “outspoken” about the negative qualities of the other parent. 

Even if there are no children involved, don’t allow your holidays to be spent focusing on anyone’s negative feelings toward your ex-spouse. It will bring you down emotionally and center the holiday around them rather than the positive time spent with other family or loved ones. Take this time to enjoy the positive relationships you have with people in your life, and make that the focus rather than negative feelings about your ex. 

#3: Do Something Different

For those parents who do not have their children for the holiday or if this is the first holiday without a spouse, one helpful thing you can do is change up your holiday traditions. 

There are many organizations who would love volunteers to help during this holiday season, so consider giving back to the community. Reach out to friends and family to try new traditions– attend a church service with a friend, host a cookie exchange party, or organize any other activity that may be fun or interesting to you. 

This is a time to try new things so it will not remind you of holidays past. If money is tight, check out Groupon or living social deals so you can try a new activity at a discounted rate. Also, check the internet and newspaper for free events. ‘Tis the season for holiday festivals that are free, so take advantage of some of the fun festivals or events happening around you, participate in some winter sports you never tried– whatever it is, introduce some new events into your holiday repertoire so that you are not just sitting at home and mourning the loss of what the holiday used to be. 

#4: Be with Friends and Family If You Need Support

If you feel lonely or are experiencing divorce anxiety, pick up the phone and call someone– reach out to loved ones and let them know if  you won’t be spending the holiday with anyone and if you are looking for a place to go or need some friend or family time to fill the void during the season. 

Oftentimes, during a divorce, the people around us who are not in the household do not see or hear everything that is happening and do not know where your boundaries lie for them to be involved. Because of this, during the holidays sometimes family and friends do not offer to include you in their traditions or get together or reach out to you because they do not know how to bring up the fact that you are alone. 

Let your loved ones know if you are lonely and in need, and you will see the onset of support and open arms from the people around you, but if you do not communicate your needs, they may never know that you were alone or feeling alone. 

#5: Spend Some Time on Yourself

If you are more of an introvert and like your time at home, or even if you are usually extroverted but are feeling overwhelmed by all the shopping and errands, transporting kids to your ex’s house, obligatory visits to family, and other holiday responsibilities, this time of year can be a good time to pamper yourself with some self-care and time spent alone. 

Here are some great ways to enjoy much earned “you” time during the holidays when you  have a divorce lingering or hanging over your head. 

  • Engage in some “cinema therapy” by checking out some newly released movies at the theater or watching a movie at home that you have not seen in years. 
  • Treat yourself to a new book to read or listen to an audiobook when cooking or getting ready for company to come over as a way to decompress from “real” life. 
  • Try a new recipe or cook yourself a great, favorite meal you have not spoiled yourself with in a while. 
  • Take a bubble bath and make yourself a cocktail– with the year you’ve gone through you deserve it. 
  • Put on a face mask, paint your nails, and have a mini spa day that will help you relax. 
  • Exercise– whatever you prefer, whether it’s running on the treadmill, doing some morning yoga, or pumping weights, get those endorphins running and do something to make you feel good about yourself. 

No matter your interests, find something that makes YOU happy, and give yourself some time this holiday to enjoy that thing. 

#6: Allow Yourself to Feel

Don’t be afraid to “feel your feelings.” This can be an incredibly hard one to accept during a divorce, particularly through the holidays. During the normal days of the year, it becomes quite easy to push aside your feelings and keep going with life, but this is not conducive to healing during a divorce. 

It may be that the holidays provide you that time to do some processing or the ability to have the good cry you have been needing for quite some time. If you need help processing your feelings, reach out to a therapist. Your divorce and family lawyer can recommend a therapist if you are interested in beginning the process of speaking to a mental health professional about processing the feelings associated with your divorce. Going to a therapist is a healthy thing to do, so don’t feel that it is a negative reflection on you–  it is a sign you are taking care of and prioritizing your own mental health and well-being, which is the best gift you can give yourself this holiday season. 

Contact a Family Law Attorney in Raleigh for Support

Have you and your spouse decided on a divorce and you are not sure on the next step to moving along in the process? The holiday season can be a very difficult time for families who are separated and trying to figure out what is best for each member of the family during this time. 

Our Raleigh family attorneys at Doyle Divorce Law can help by offering counsel and support during your divorce this holiday season. Our attorneys can guide you through decisions that can result in positive outcomes for your case. 

Give our team a call at 919-296-1638 or complete the form below to get started today.

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