As we flip to the last page of the calendar for 2013, a topic comes to mind that I know is front and center for a lot of my readers. Divorce and the holidays. If you are thinking about divorce, or even going through one already, this can be an extremely difficult time. Perhaps this is your first holiday season after a divorce? Perhaps you just recently separated and are concerned about how much time you will get to spend with your children? Perhaps you are just dreading spending another holiday with your husband/wife’s family?
I’ve written about divorce and the holidays before. In that previous post, I provided a list of 5 things that you should be aware of if you are going through a divorce during the holidays, which included:
- Maintaining a Cool Head.
- Watching the Alcohol.
- Enjoying the time you have with family.
- Biting your tongue.
- Remembering what is best for the kids.
Today, I’d like to take a little different spin on that. Because of the one-year separation rule, divorce in North Carolina can take an exceptionally long time. So you may be in lots of different places with your case right now. In addition, whether or not you have children will dictate in part how you may handle the upcoming holidays.
5 ways for you to approach this holiday season:
- If you are recently separated, and have no kids or will be splitting time with the kids, have you considered a vacation? Although most people will be surprised to hear this, I am an introvert, which means that I derive a lot of energy from being alone. Don’t get me wrong, I love my wife and kids, but spending time on my own to think, write, work, read, etc. really gives me refreshment and energy. When I don’t get that, I get grumpy. More often than not, this may coincide with the holidays. If you are like me in this regard, you may want to consider taking a vacation and spending some time on your own to think, get refreshed, and prepare yourself for the New Year.
- Same situation as above, except that you are an extrovert? Well, maybe you don’t want to spend time alone. Maybe it is important for you to be around your loved ones. This is a good opportunity for you to reconnect with old friends, or just spend some good quality time with your family (parents, grandparents, aunts/uncles, etc.) Chances are, they already know that you are going through a divorce (or they will know soon enough), so spend some time with them and enjoy yourself. It is up to you whether you want to talk about the divorce or not, but I recommend that you try and steer clear of that topic unless you are talking to the closest of friends who already know about the situation.
- Take some time to reinvent yourself. Get some new clothes or a new haircut. Go back to the gym (if you haven’t been for awhile). Volunteer. Take a class on something you enjoy. Pick up a hobby that you didn’t previously have time for. Whatever your “thing” might be, now you have time to do it.
- Spend some good, quality time with your kids. Chances are, it has been awhile since your kids were in a house where there wasn’t a lot of yelling and fighting between you and your spouse. This is an opportunity to spend time with them in a stress-free house. Plan some fun activities with them. Bake some cookies, go to some type of event, or maybe just take a hike in the woods. The activity you choose will depend on the ages of your children and how many you have, of course, so tailor some activities to things that they will enjoy.
- If you haven’t separated yet, or separation is imminent, but you and your spouse have decided to stick it out through the holidays, then go back to the list I provided above. Keep the alcohol to a minimum, and remember that protecting the kids is the most important thing you can do. Keep a smile on your face and get through this with as little fighting as possible.
However you decide to spend this holiday season, remember a couple of things. Stay positive – you will get through this. And keep looking forward. Don’t dwell on the past, instead think about your future. In a couple of years, this will all be a distant memory.
Have some good ideas about things you did during the holiday season to keep your mind off your divorce? Please feel free to share them below.