The holidays are not an easy time for anyone getting a divorce. The restructuring of family life that happens when you get a divorce is the practical reason why the holidays can be difficult for divorced people. It can also be difficult to enter the holiday spirit when your life is undergoing the upheaval of divorce.
If you are struggling to cope with the holidays while you are going through divorce, the following are four approaches that can help things to go more smoothly:
Avoid Toxic Family Members
Being deliberate about who you spend your time with can help you survive divorce. Toxic family members may also have a detrimental effect on your divorce if they are interfering in your parenting or passing information and gossip between you and your ex-spouse. If you must spend time around family members or in-laws who could be judging your choices or interfering with your parenting, it is a promising idea to make it brief and set boundaries. Showing up for dinner and leaving directly afterward can be a way to make an appearance without engaging in unnecessary conversations. It is OK to tell family members and friends in advance that you do not want to talk about your divorce.
Create New Traditions
It can be difficult to let go of holiday traditions that you might have shared with your spouse and your kids. If you are spending the holidays newly divorced either with or without kids, creating new traditions is a way to do something positive but bridge the gap between old and new. You could engage your kids in decorating the home and craft projects, or you could celebrate with a select group of close friends.
Make a Holiday Plan With Your Ex
When you were married, you spent the holidays with your family or your spouse’s family. If you had kids, you went on trips to see family together or took your kids on holiday outings. Now you are getting a divorce, (even if you are still living under the same roof), you probably want to celebrate separately or have some space. The more carefully you plan (especially if you have kids), the less conflict is likely to arise. Your parenting plan and custody agreement may dictate who gets the kids or you may need to make temporary arrangements. If you are dating someone new, you should be especially careful about introducing them to the kids. Your co-parent might not take kindly to this, and it could impact your divorce. During the holidays, it is a good idea to lay ground rules about new partners, who your kids are spending time with, and how much they should know about your divorce.
Be Careful About Oversharing on Social Media or by Text
If there is one thing your divorce attorney will warn you about, it is oversharing about your divorce on social media or messaging apps. You need to be extremely careful, not only to avoid hurting your spouse’s feelings, but also to avoid impacting your divorce proceedings. Badmouthing an ex is a No No. Even if it is justified it could make you look like a bad parent and indicate lack of impulse control. If you are posting pictures of you and a new partner with the kids, at best this could hurt your ex and cause conflict, and at worst, it could negatively affect your perceived parenting skills. If you are going through an acrimonious divorce, it could be a good idea to deactivate your social media accounts during the holidays.
Going through a divorce during the holidays is not easy, but it is manageable if you implement ground rules and negotiate carefully with your ex. If you are going through a Massachusetts Divorce and are worried about how holiday celebrations could impact your divorce, please contact our experienced Massachusetts Divorce Attorneys to get a consultation on how you should proceed. Whether your divorce is acrimonious or more amicable, we can help you navigate a challenging time in the healthiest way for you and your family.