The holidays can be a festive, yet stressful time for many people and may be especially hard to cope with after a divorce. The sense of loss is magnified during the holidays, and there are many constant reminders of happier times you have shared as a couple or family. The realization of how different your life is now can really hit hard around the holiday season even if you are currently happy in your new situation.
One of the most difficult situations I have found myself in are the holidays when my ex-husband has my sons. The years that is it “his turn” for Thanksgiving or Christmas are especially hard for me. It helps to realize that on the holidays it is “your turn,” that must be equally true for your ex and that these feelings are not unique to you. Remember, when you divorce, you not only give up your former spouse, but more than likely the family holidays you’ve shared with them as well. Whatever traditions and holiday routines you’ve developed throughout your marriage will many times drastically change after the divorce.
Former spouses find new partners and many other things change through the years. So what can be done to help ease the emotions that many times accompany this time of year? If you are left alone without the kids when they are with their other parent, try to spend time with family and close friends who care about you. Do something fun to try to keep your mind off of things. Try to enjoy the holiday regardless of the circumstance.
When you are with your children, try to incorporate some of the old traditions into your new life, if possible. Then, create some new traditions unique to your current situation that the kids can enjoy and associate with their new circumstance.
If you are feeling blue, talk to a friend or family member or someone else who has been through a divorce. You will be surprised at how many people understand what you are going through after you take the initiative to speak up about it.
Try to count your many blessings, even though this holiday may not be what you had been wishing for. You will get through it. With the passage of time, some of the pain will ease and you will learn to adapt to the changes. Dealing with holidays after divorce is painful, but it is something all divorced parents must learn to manage.
I write this as my sons are with their father this Thanksgiving. I miss them, but I have to focus on the fact that my daughter and current husband are here with me and try to make the best of the situation. Have a wonderful holiday season, and realize you’re not alone.