The holiday season is upon us. Everywhere you look, family and friends are sharing holiday cheer. If you are going through the process of separating or divorcing from your spouse or significant other, things may not seem so merry and bright.
From my experience, late November / early December is a time when people meet with me for an initial consult to obtain information only. They are either certain that separation is imminent or that it is a very real possibility in the near future. They meet with me to become informed about the process of separation and understand their rights and obligations. The consult usually ends with something like: “Well, thank you, I’d like to think about the information you have given me today and I will call you in the New Year… I don’t want to start anything during the holidays.” The next time I hear from them is in January, after the hustle and bustle of the holidays are over and they have promised themselves a fresh start for the New Year.
It is common that people want to remain as amicable as possible during the holidays, in order to maintain normalcy for their children or their families and friends. However, this can be a difficult time, especially if people are asking questions or if the situation is particularly tense.
Here are a few tips to survive this time of year:
Talk to friends and family
Find a trusted friend or family member to discuss your feelings about separation. It can be difficult to go through separation or divorce alone, and knowing that somebody is there to listen to you can go a long way on your road to recovery. A chat with somebody special over a nice hot cup of your favorite holiday beverage can bring a touch of cheer back into your life.
Set some ground rules
If this is your first holiday season where your relationship status is “separated” or “divorced”, it may be appropriate to discuss some ground rules for this year’s holiday season. Perhaps you can discuss with your ex and agree that you will not show up to the same holiday events to avoid prying questions and hurt feelings. Maybe you need to agree that there will be no new significant others present or introduced to the children this year.
Focus on the children
It’s amazing how children brighten up the holiday season. Their wonder and excitement is infectious, and everything is new in their eyes. If you don’t have children of your own, watch the faces of your nieces and nephews, or your friends’ children, as they participate in the holiday festivities. Capture some of their energy when you’re feeling low.
Make some time for yourself
This cannot be said enough: You deserve some time to focus on yourself and do things that make you happy. This may mean a short trip to the spa, a night in away from the crowds and the questions about your relationship status to make your favorite dinner and sit down with your favorite movie – anything that makes you happy.
Do something nice for somebody else
The holiday season is a time for giving. Why not volunteer at a shelter or soup kitchen to bring some holiday cheer to somebody else who needs it? You could pay for the candy cane hot chocolate or the gingerbread latte ordered by the person in line behind you. Maybe happiness is adopting a pet from a shelter and giving it a good, loving and permanent home. Kick start some good karma for the new year by giving to others.
If you can’t sit still and wonder what comes next, get yourself informed about the process of separation and divorce. Take a look at www.lisagelman.com and register for the free e-course on divorce or visit a family lawyer to get some information about your rights and obligations.
I wish you and yours a happy and safe holiday season.