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Handling Your First Holidays Post-Separation

The holidays are often considered a time for family. If your marriage is ending, that message can make this time of year feel particularly painful. Everything from advertisements to well-meaning friends can remind you of things you would rather forget. 

However, you can still enjoy — or at least tolerate — the holidays, even when you’re approaching or in the midst of a divorce. With the proper preparation and approach, you can keep the holidays special and keep your attention off your worries. The following strategies may make it easier to handle the next few months of celebrations with grace, no matter how you feel about your divorce. 

1. Take Care of Yourself

Even if you do nothing festive this holiday season, you should take the time to care for yourself. A divorce can be emotional and stressful, and it may feel particularly difficult in contrast with the societal message that you should be relaxing and having fun. When you’re facing this kind of strain, you may get out of the habit of taking care of yourself and rely on coping methods that harm you. 

For example, this time of year is often full of parties that run late into the night and involve plenty of alcohol. When you’re newly single, it’s all too easy to let these events throw off your sleep cycle or encourage excessive drinking. While this might feel good at the moment, the stress it places on your body will only make everything seem that much worse. 

Instead, do your best to put yourself first. This doesn’t mean skipping out on those parties, but it does mean practicing moderation. Keep yourself on a schedule and make sure you get enough sleep. If you’re worried about over-indulging, tag in a friend to help you count your drinks. The better you care for yourself, the easier it will be to move on. 

2. Prioritize Other Relationships

Even if you believe the holidays should be spent with family, there are many definitions of family. Your spouse may no longer fit that definition, but plenty of other people in your life still do. It may involve blood relatives, but it can also include close friends. Take this as an opportunity to prioritize these other relationships and build the family you deserve. 

For example, maybe this is the year you decide to build a new tradition of going ice skating with your best friend or taking your kids to chop down an actual live Christmas tree at a farm. Maybe you just start calling your parents or siblings every week to chat and catch up. There are thousands of ways you can build these relationships to take your mind off your divorce

This is more than just a temporary distraction, though. Strong relationships can help you move past your split more quickly by reminding you that you are loved and supported. It can also help you feel included when you’re most likely to be lonely. They can even provide health benefits like lowering your blood pressure and making you feel less stressed.

3. Give Yourself Time 

Of course, you may not always feel up to joining large family events and starting new traditions, and that’s okay. It’s just as important to give yourself time to relax and stop trying to live up to your own expectations for the holidays. You are going through a difficult and painful transition, and it’s natural that you may not have the energy to go out sometimes. 

That’s why you need to give yourself time to rest without expectations. Don’t force yourself to go to every party, accept every invitation, or do every activity. You aren’t missing out on things; you’re prioritizing your actual needs over what you think you should want. 

When you do take time to rest, do so guilt-free. Use the time to do something that you enjoy instead. Go for a long walk while listening to your favorite music, visit an animal shelter, or do your favorite hobby. Unapologetically doing something for yourself can make it easier to genuinely enjoy the gatherings you choose to attend, regardless of your marital status. 

4. Prepare for Questions

It is an unfortunate reality that people will want to know why you are ending your marriage. While you may have already told the people closest to you, holiday gatherings often include distant family and friends who haven’t yet heard. If you don’t want to get into the nitty-gritty details at a party, preparing a few answers to nosy questions in advance is helpful. 

Depending on how you feel, these answers can be polite, funny, or blunt. A simple, “Oh, I’d rather not talk about that tonight. Tell me more about what’s happening in your life” can shut down casual questions. You can also make jokes about the situation if you want. If someone isn’t taking the hint, you have every right to say, “That’s a rude question,” and walk away. 

You can even loop in a close friend to help you if you feel uncomfortable ending these conversations yourself. Having someone who’s prepared to step in and distract the other person can help you enjoy the rest of the party without the discomfort of having to shut down nosy questions alone. 

Move Forward With Your Divorce 

Ending your marriage is always challenging, but the holidays can make it harder. You can make the process that much less stressful by ensuring you have excellent legal representation. At Kaspar & Lugay, LLP, we are dedicated to handling the complex aspects of your divorce so you can focus on your family. We focus on providing exceptional service and advocacy for our clients, so they can move past this difficult time as quickly as possible. You can learn more about how we can help you streamline your divorce by scheduling your complementary consultation today.