Issues surrounding divorce are difficult enough at any time of the year and only intensify during the holidays. It's like a cosmic collision of high-stress and ultra-stress, with you in the middle. If your divorce is in process and the holidays won't wait -- and they won't -- here are six helpful tips for getting through the tough spots.
- Trim the gift list. This divorce is undoubtedly costing you money you may not have for an attorney, therapist, financial consultant, appraisers, etc. No one else needs anything more badly than you need to take care of yourself. Small gifts for those special people, with whom you expect to have good relationships long after this divorce is over, are appropriate. They will understand. Anyone else is simply no longer a priority or an obligation for you.
- Choose who you spend time with. This is as good a time as any to start practicing your new single lifestyle. Do not force yourself to endure unpleasant and stressful situations with people who are no longer even nice to you. I'm not saying "go" or "don't go" to any traditional event; only go if you really want to and you expect it will be a pleasant experience for you. If not, then create some new traditions for yourself in the spirit of peace and tranquility. One further note, if you do go, plan for a way to leave early if you feel it becomes necessary for your well-being.
- Take a break from the divorce. Not much is likely to get done anyway, so you might as well try to take a break from the constant stress of it all. Put the notes and notebooks away, out of sight, and simply focus on refreshing yourself. Take some time to revitalize positive feelings of a better life to come. Do something special to welcome that new future: consider new career choices, explore new living situations while making no commitments, reconnect with old friends who drifted away because they never liked your spouse. You get the idea.
- Make plans to fill the voids. Even if the plan is to do something alone, that's a plan. There will probably be times that were previously spent doing things you will no longer be a part of - like dinner with the in-laws. Select a good book you have long been wanting to get to, a movie or two that will take you someplace else, or a creative project that will inspire you along the way as it materializes.
- Get real. Those Norman Rockwell paintings of the perfect family are fantasy. Did you ever really believe June Cleaver cleaned house in heels and pearls? Feel comfortable with your new situation, whatever it is, and create new customs that work for you. Even sleeping late and "doing nothing" can be heavenly. No need to rush off to grandma's with three days' worth of baking, only to hear that there is too much to eat and most of it will eventually end up in the garbage.
- Be fair to the children. If you have young children, or children of any age, understand that this is difficult for them too. They will not know how to act without some help from you. Allow them to spend time with each of their parents and remain guilt-free about it. It's all about expectations. If you and they expect to be ok with new ways to spend your time, then you will be ok. If you exhibit anguish over every minute they are away from you, then anguish and distress will prevail for them as well.
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