Divorce is stressful. It can be messy, complicated, expensive, and with so much emotional turmoil, it can leave you feeling defeated during a time of year when joy is supposed to be “in the air”. Whether you’re the one who initiated the divorce or not, it will likely take a toll on you to some degree. While the there is never a “good time” for divorce, the holidays can make it feel that much harder. If you find yourself in this situation, it’s important to recognize that divorce will present both peaks and valleys, and it’s healthy to recognize both. Below are positive and negative aspects of getting divorced during the holiday season:
The Valley: Whether you or your ex are staying in your shared home, one of you will likely leave at some point during the divorce. If you’re the one staying, you might be frustrated if your ex seems to be dragging their feet on getting their stuff out of the house. If you’re the one who has to leave, you may feel that your life is being uprooted. This situation can be compounded with holiday stress—Christmas shopping, holiday parties, and just being present for your children can easily feel entirely overwhelming.
The Peak: With a certain mindset, you may be able to find silver linings in this situation. For example: you get to sleep alone! Your ex snored, or they hogged the covers, or their alarm woke you up every day before you needed to get up. Whatever annoying nighttime habits your ex had, it’s absolutely okay to now starfish in your bed knowing that you won’t be elbowing anyone in the process. In addition to this, there’s something to be said about having time to yourself in your own place. If you’ve been surrounded by a spouse and kids for years it will certainly feel strange at first, but having a few days in the week when you don’t have to be present for anyone but yourself while you’re home can be incredibly refreshing.
The Valley: You already bought your soon-to-be-ex mother in-law a massage from that really expensive day spa downtown and it’s non-refundable. What are you supposed to do with that twenty-pound turkey sitting in your fridge? Your family doesn’t live in the area so you’re looking at spending Christmas alone. Interruptions to the norm can and likely will be challenging at first, and feeling the weight of change during the holidays can be difficult to cope with.
The Peak: Darn, guess you’ll have to go get that massage that you’ve paid for! You also won’t have to listen to your ex’s uncle tell inappropriate jokes at the dinner table while you pretend to laugh. Twenty-pound turkey and Christmas alone? You probably have friends that are soloing it this year too, why not invite them over? Or, if your soul needs a little lift, donate the turkey to a family in need. It’s the spirit of the season and helping others is often the best gift we can give ourselves!
The Valley: Any kind of breakup around the holidays is difficult. When you’re married, and you’ve been with your partner for a long time, the loneliness can really hurt, especially during a time that is so focused around family. With all those over-the-top romantic (and unrealistic, let’s be honest) holiday movies on Netflix, it can be really easy to fall into depression. It’s important to lean on your support system during this time. Family, friends, coworkers even—allow other people in your life to listen, to cry with you, and to invest in you during this season.
The Peak: You’re alone! (Wait, what?). Take this time to do exactly what you want to do. Have as much “me” time as you want! Just because it’s the holidays, doesn’t mean you can’t work towards your goals. Have you always wanted to go skydiving? Do it now! Do the dishes tomorrow. Focus on yourself and what you want, you’re free to live your life without having to consider your partner. If your family lives somewhere else, go and see them for the holidays! Or maybe you find yourself getting a tan on a tropical beach somewhere for Christmas instead? Your first Christmas post-divorce will certainly be different, but it’s the unconventional holidays that are sometimes the most memorable.
Divorce isn’t easy, but if you have the mindset to look for the peaks amongst the valleys, it’s possible you may find surprising revelations, and a little bit of yourself, that you didn’t recognize before. Taking care of yourself is key during this time, especially during the stress of the holidays. It’s also important to have legal backup. Landerholm Family Law is here for all your legal needs during your divorce, from start to finish. We are here to advocate for your better and brighter tomorrow.