Dealing with Divorce During the Holidays.
Divorce can be highly emotional because it is essentially the death of a relationship.
At some point, there was an intimate connection to the person in the petition. Also, when children are involved, it can be difficult to adjust to a new life of separation. These children have to adjust to a new way of life where dad and mom are living in separate spaces.
The holidays are the moment when we tend to celebrate family, love, and relationships. Likewise, it is also at this time when most divorce feel lonely and confront the feeling of separation. Mental Health America noted:
“Many people can experience feelings of anxiety or depression during the holiday season. People who already live with a mental health condition should take extra care to tend to their overall health and wellness during this time. Extra stress, unrealistic expectations or even sentimental memories that accompany the season can be a catalyst for the holiday blues. Some can be at risk for feelings of loneliness, sadness, fatigue, tension and a sense of loss.”
Therefore, the holidays – Christmas, New Year, birthdays, anniversaries etc. – are filled with memories – old and new. Perhaps, you do not want to think about past memories during your divorce process. It is at this point that most people get the holiday blues.
What are the holiday blues? Holiday blues are waves of dampened emotions which manifest in forms of depression, loneliness, or sadness especially during the holidays.
7 Tips for dealing with divorce
- Don’t sweat it (Be prepared): The holidays can be stressful. Running around, trying to prepare the meals, and buying the right gifts can make the holidays tense. It does not have to be that way. About three to four weeks before the holiday, think about the things you normally do. Then think about what you want to do differently. Avoid stressful situations by being prepared. Write down the things you need for the holidays. Do you need to get a cake? Are you throwing a party? Are you traveling out of town? Will your child be spending the holiday with your separating spouse? Is there a parenting plan in place? During the legal process where the divorce decree has not been finalized, it is challenging to make proper arrangement for the entire family. Just do the best you can’t. It does not have to be perfect. It is going to be different, and that is acceptable. It will be less pressure on you when you are prepared. You have more confidence and will feel at ease.
- Get plenty of rest: The holidays are generally tiresome for families. Find time to relax and allow your body to catch up with the events and runarounds. The holidays are known for ‘mixers’ and ‘potlucks’. From Secret Santa at work to the plethora of school end of the year activities, the list goes on and on. You have to make a conscious decision to get good 8 hours of sleep at night. You may need some time to yourself; ask the other parent to take care of the child so you can sleep. Return the favor likewise.
- Create new routines (new memories): A wise person once said, “If you do not like your old memories, create new ones.” During this sensitive time, old routines may not work. If you have kids, deviate from old routines slightly. Before spouses decide their marriage is not working, there will be signs that the old routine is broken too. Create new memories with your child. Form new family traditions – fun and happy memories.
- Have good support system. Don’t stay alone. If you are in a new town and you don’t have a lot of friends, join a local club. There are book clubs, fitness clubs, and even cooking class. On that note, the next step is also important. Your support system can also be your parents. The purpose of a support system is to have someone or a group of friends you can be vulnerable with. It can also be a neighbor. The support system helps with maintaining sanity – literally. They are there to help you with baby-sitting the kids when you work late and help with doctor’s appointment. Like a strong, unbroken circle of sisterhood or brotherhood, stay close in a group. Move with a pack and not alone.
- Exercise. It helps with mental health and staying refreshed. You can join a Zumba class, adult yoga, boxing, or martial arts. It is amazing how much clearer the mind becomes when we exercise. The body also benefits from exercising. It feels healthier and stronger. Your mental health is vital during the divorce process. Most people tend to feel down and stay locked – bottled down. However, this is detrimental to the body. Find a local gym and sign up. Exercising rejuvenates the body and mind. If you cannot afford the monthly payments, get up early and run around your neighborhood. Another option is to go to your nearest park or find an exercise buddy. Stay safe and exercise. The exercise is not necessarily for losing weight; it is simply for forming good habits and ensuring a healthy mind and body.
- Get help (when needed). Especially if you have little ones, from infants to school age, life as a single parent may be more difficult than you thought. During the divorce of your marriage, you may be the custodial parent (CP) or asking to be the custodial parent. As the CP, you are responsible for designating the primary residence of the child. Also, majority of the responsibilities for the welfare and caretaking of the child fall on you. From dropping him at school to providing his meals, you have to complete these tasks. Perhaps, you have been performing these duties without help from your spouse. Then, the transition is easier. However, for the child, it may not be as smooth. Adults can understand why they make certain decisions, but for a child, it is hard to process why daddy and mommy do not want to live together anymore. This leads to the next point.
- Talk to someone about it. It is therapeutic when you do not have to bottle your emotions. Your listener can be a therapist, parents, mentor, or close friends. Talk to someone who will do more listening than judging or instigating. Get an accountability partner. There will be days where you feel like venting or ranting; you need listening ears. The purpose is not to gossip or brood; it is not a pity party. Rather, you want someone that will shed light on the situation. We recommend approximately six months of family therapy. However, it is your decision and it is a case-by-case evaluation given that people react and respond to situations differently.
So, your relationship with your spouse may be dying. Perhaps you are going through a divorce or are already divorce. Regardless of where you are in the process, the holidays do not have to be stressful. We hope the tips above help you – not only to get through the holidays – but to thrive and build new memories.
Happy holidays from the Aminu Law Firm.
Topic: Dealing with Divorce, Houston family attorneys, Conflict resolution, #Houstonmediators, #Houstonlawyerswhocare, Dealing with Divorce during holidays.