Creating a New Normal for the Holidays
The first holiday season after a divorce is just rough for everyone. Depending on which stage of the process that you’re at, it is important to keep a few non-negotiable rules to keep your sanity.
Even if you weren’t married for long, it is important to look at what you did during the holidays. Did you have an early Thanksgiving lunch and watch football games all day? When did you put up the Christmas tree? Did you open gifts on Christmas Eve or in the predawn hours of Christmas day?
It is perfectly reasonable to switch some things up. Some of the traditions will be difficult to manage. Children’s feelings are especially important at this time. Dismissing their concerns with a statement, “Now, you’ll get two holidays!” doesn’t address the real uncertainty that exists in their world.
Unpacking all of the decorations
You have divided property, and all of a sudden, you realize that you’re holding onto Christmas treasures from his or her childhood. One Provo divorce attorney said, “We advise our clients to divide these keepsakes up during the division of property. It’s an added stress at a bad time, but it is the most merciful for all involved.”
Seeing your ex’s stocking can throw a glass of cold water on you and the children, casting a negative shadow on a time that you are trying to establish family unity and happy times.
One woman reported knowing that there were difficult times coming, when she packed up the decorations at the end of the holiday, she made a grand show of dividing the decorations, ornaments, etc. by owner. In this way, if the marriage was going to be saved through the couple’s therapy and other tools, she would be fine. If not, she could just grab a few of his boxes to give him. It ended up that she did need to pull those boxes when her soon-to-be ex moved out, but it was a way to prepare.
It’s important for us to express our feelings as parents so that we model healthy ways to express our emotions to our children. “Expressing your feelings doesn’t mean that you drag your children into your divorce as a confidant,” reminds a divorce attorney in Provo.
Acknowledge your sadness and talk about your children’s feelings. Let them know that things will be different, but that doesn’t necessarily mean worse. We do children a grand disservice when adults are allowed to have a wide spectrum of feelings, but we don’t allow that same range of expression to them. By being genuine and open, we can teach them that feelings are acceptable and valued as well as that we need to behave appropriately when expressing them.
It gets better
Take time for some basic self-care during the holidays so you can be there for your children. It will get better. You are strong and you can do it.