Surviving Divorce Through The Holidays
Divorce can be a difficult time for anyone, regardless of the time of year or the circumstances. While the divorce rate has declined across the country in the last two years; it consistently remains higher for couples who are on their second or third marriages. For those on their second marriage, the divorce rate is 60%. It is 73% for couples on a third marriage. When broken down according to time of year, January is when divorce filings are at the highest rate. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Massachusetts currently has the lowest divorce rate in the country. However, Massachusetts is not immune to the high number of divorces that occur right after the holidays. For those who are affected by divorce this time of year, there are some tips that can help you cope with divorce during the holidays.
Divorce, the Holidays, and Children
Helping children adjust to a divorce can be enough of a challenge. When that divorce affects the holiday season, it can be more of a challenge. One way to help make the season manageable and stress-free for the adults and kids is to agree on a schedule ahead of time and stick with it. When children know what to expect, the transition can be easier. If at all possible, both parents should try to adhere to the traditions that matter most to the kids. However, this can also be an opportunity to create new traditions. Parents may have to work together to lower expectations all across the board and remember the least amount of upheaval may be best for everyone.
Communication between parents is key. Presenting a united front is vital. This is particularly important when ironing details such as, where children will spend Christmas Eve or morning, holiday dinners, religious services, time with extended family, and what time and place will be best for exchanges. Parents may even need to discuss and plan gift ideas together, including spending limits. Extended family members may also need to be kept in the loop about the new holiday schedule. The use of technology can help parents or extended family members maintain a connection with children when they are away from one parent during a special holiday event.
Look To Family and Friends For Support
For those who don’t have children, divorce during the holidays can still be a time of great upheaval and uncertainty. It can also be a time of emotional difficulties, anxiety, stress, loneliness, and depression. The holiday season may remind people of happier times in their marriage or even reinforce why divorce is the best option. For those struggling to cope or handle divorce during the holidays, it may be best to seek or rely on a support system. There may be others in your circle of friends, family, or co-workers who have been through a divorce during the holidays. Spending time with supportive people can help someone avoid further depression or anxiety during the season. Wanting to still be involved with in-laws or family traditions can be tricky and may need to be discussed and planned well in advance. Starting new traditions or getting involved with volunteer opportunities can help someone take their mind off of what the holidays may have been like before. Planning a holiday get-a-way or non-traditional experience can help you get beyond any holiday blues related to your divorce.
The most important tip to help anyone affected by divorce during the holidays is to take care of themselves physically and emotionally. The holiday season has a way of becoming overwhelming and stressful under the best of circumstances. Planning ahead, clearly communicating your needs, and reaching out to others who may be a source of support and guidance may be the best gifts you can give to yourself or anyone else who is dealing with divorce during the holidays.
By Anna Shapiro