It’s November. The leaves are turning, the air is crisp, and everything is pumpkin spice. It’s a wonderful time of year, and most of the time this anticipatory season is bursting with the excitement of the upcoming holidays. For those of you going through a divorce, the impending holidays are full of the dread of constant bickering and having to discuss your private matter with each family member insensitive enough to ask, “So, how is the divorce going?” A lot of times people actually wait until after the holidays to face a divorce because they don’t want to have to go through the holidays alone, split the holidays with their children, or even worse, tell their mother. It doesn’t have to be that way though. Here are some tips for putting your fall & holiday season back on track so that you can enjoy them:
- Discuss the matter with your family before the Holidays hit. It’s going to be hard, but if you bite the bullet, so to say, and get it over with, the newness of the divorce will not be on the forefront of everyone’s mind when they see you. You know hearing about drama is not as much fun when you’ve heard it for six months. Notice how the Khloe and Lamar divorce coverage is dying down? Or Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta Jones? By the time the holidays roll around, it’s old news, and time to move on to better subjects.
- Don’t hide the Divorce. If you’re ready to file, and you have either filed or are about to file, hiding the divorce will only stress you out during the holidays. “Hey, where’s [insert husband or wife’s name here]?” You’ll have an answer and you won’t feel like you’re lying to yourself or your family. You have to accept what you’re going through, and acceptance doesn’t mean hiding it from your family just to get through the holidays. It’s almost the new year, which means new beginnings. If you follow the advice from number 1, you’ll have a huge weight lifted off your shoulders.
- Speaking of better subjects, come armed with other topics that you can switch to if you are questioned about your divorce. Take a dance class, or new fitness class. Enroll your kids into something new, and then tell everyone about it. The best way to fizzle something you don’t want to talk about is to passionately talk about something you do.
- Speaking of changing the subject, don’t talk about the divorce nonstop. You don’t want to invite people into drama, because they either they’ll stir it up and make it worse, or they will avoid it (and thereby you) like the plague. It’s one thing to talk it over with those closest to you, or those who you typically confide in, but don’t let it take over every conversation. “Did you hear who they picked to play the main characters in 50 Shades?” Not interested? “How about that Crimson Tide this year?” There are tons of other subjects that you can move onto to keep from drowning in your divorce.
- Negotiate a holiday visitation schedule. Your kids are used to spending the holidays with each of you. It is best to go ahead and realize you’ll have to split your time now, instead of fighting it. Don’t think of it as your spouse getting time with your kids, think of it as your kids are getting time with both parents, both families, and what it means to them.
- Stick to the Holiday Schedule you’ve agreed to. Don’t use the children as bait or as a weapon. You’ve agreed to this, just because it’s hard to do, doesn’t mean it isn’t the right thing to do. Your children deserve the holidays without fighting. It’s a joyous time for them, let them enjoy it even if you’re having a hard time. Also, it gets easier when you have a routine. If you know when you’ll have your kids, and your spouse knows when he or she will, you can plan accordingly. Switching things up last minute makes it hard for everyone.
- However, if there is something last minute that comes up. Be flexible. Don’t be completely rigid with your plans. Divorce is about compromise whether it’s by choice or by Court Order. You’ll be much happier if you don’t sweat a 30 minute late exchange time. Focus on the happiness of your children, and your holidays will go a lot better. (Realize that number 5 and 6 will save you a lot of money in the long run. Calling your lawyer the day before Thanksgiving for an emergency motion isn’t the best way to start off your holiday! Save that money for Black Friday!)
- Use your Personal Property Agreement to make your Christmas List. Go ahead and separate that personal property before Christmas rolls around. Why? You can use it to create your Christmas list. “Oh, you want the candlesticks? That’s fine. I’ll ask my parents for a better set.” “You want the 42 inch flat screen? That’s okay, my mom is going shopping on Black Friday, and she plans on being at Costco at 2 a.m. to get a 70 inch. Go for it.” Hey, who said you can use this time of the year to replenish what you’re giving up for the sake of peace?
- Look forward to truly starting over in the new year. Some people want to lose weight. Well you are losing a whole person. This isn’t a time to feel like a failure or to be upset. You tried and it didn’t work. If the shoe doesn’t fit, you don’t continue to wear it (no matter how cute it is. I know I’ve tried!) Start over with hope for the future. If you continue to look back, you’ll be focusing on the loss, not the gain of hope. If Cinderella went back for her shoe… she wouldn’t have ended up with the prince.