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Dealing with Divorce during the Holidays

Dealing with Divorce during the Holidays

By M. Scott Gordon

December and January are often difficult months for couples who are going through a divorce or for those who have recently dissolved their marriages. Indeed, the holiday season can bring added stress, anxiety, and isolation to newly divorced Illinois residents. And this time of the year can be just as tough—if not tougher—on the children of couples who have made the decision to get divorced.

According to a recent article in Huffington Post, it’s important to think about the best ways to get through the holiday season—from early December through New Year’s celebrations—without letting your divorce take a serious emotional toll. For recently divorced parents with children, this can be extremely difficult, as you’re going to be balancing your children’s needs with your own. Family psychologists suggest that some quick planning—for yourself and for your children—can help to make the holiday season a little bit brighter despite the woes of divorce.

Planning for Personal Social Fulfillment

For newly divorced couples, it can be tricky to find yourself socially fulfilled during the holiday season. Many married couples feel that they “share” friends, so to speak, and when divorce happens, those ex-spouses don’t always feel comfortable with “old friends and old traditions.” What can you do to help yourself during the holidays? In December and January, think about some of the following tips to keep you from extreme emotional lows:

  • Make plans for holiday evenings when you’ll be by yourself. Whether you have children who are spending nights with your ex-spouse, or if you don’t have any kids, it’s important to ensure that you’re not sitting home alone thinking about old traditions you had with your spouse and your friends. Call up old friends and plan a night out, or contact family members and make new holiday traditions together. Even if you’re comfortable being by yourself, the holidays can be tough. Be prepared with support from your friends and family.
  • Engage in an activity that has meaning to you over the holiday season. For instance, you might think about volunteering at a local charity.
  • Enjoy the “simple pleasures of the season.” What does this mean? For Chicagoans, embrace the cold and windy weather! Take a walk outside in the snow or enjoy a hot drink by your fireplace.
  • Think about Christmas and New Year’s Day simply as dates on the calendar—don’t attach any special meaning that doesn’t need to be there. This can help you to keep perspective if the emotional going gets tough.

Helping Your Kids through the Divorce

If you have children, it’s equally important to revise your holiday thinking so that your kids don’t suffer emotional lows as the weather grows cold. What can you do to help children deal with divorce during the holiday season?

  • Start new traditions with your children that you didn’t do when you were married. For instance, if you never used to take your kids ice skating, turn that into a new tradition. Or if your kids haven’t volunteered at a local charity during the holidays, make that part of your yearly task at Christmastime.
  • Make clear plans ahead of time with your ex-spouse and keep your kids in the loop. Be sure that you, your ex, and your children understand where your children will be during the holidays.

If you’re currently going through a divorce and have questions, you should never hesitate to speak with an experienced Chicago divorce attorney. The professionals at M. Scott Gordon & Associates are here to help.