While divorce may be the end of your marriage, your family continues. Special days, like Thanksgiving or Christmas, may spark mixed emotions and bittersweet memories. Some parents decide that spending the holidays together after a divorce is the right option for their family. If you and your spouse can set aside your differences for the day, it can be a gift to your children to have everyone together to celebrate.
Jamie and Eric finalized their divorce a few months ago. After years of non-stop fighting and money issues, the couple decided it was time to end their marriage and start the next chapter of their lives. They used the collaborative divorce process to customize their dissolution. Although the couple’s marriage wasn’t “happily ever after,” they were willing to brainstorm solutions with their group of professionals, rather than fighting in a courtroom. This allowed them to save time, money and even energy and invest it in their family’s future.
Now the couple is facing their first holiday season apart. Their kids are at sensitive ages, 4 and 7, and they want nothing more than to have a happy holiday, especially after all the changes they’ve experienced. Just like Jamie and Eric put their family first during their divorce, they also wanted to put their children first this holiday season. Rather than transporting the kids back and forth between houses to celebrate multiple times, they focused on spending the holidays together. Jamie and Eric knew they would have to look at the situation from all angles and set a few ground rules for themselves, and each other, before the big day.
Spending the Holidays Together After a Divorce
Most likely, spending the holidays together after a divorce won’t be easy. Memories, arguments and stress can quickly creep in to ruin the day; however, there are ways to continue to celebrate together. Here are six tips to help the day run smoothly.
1. Talk about how spending the holidays together after a divorce will look.
Think of it as a blank slate. You have the opportunity to create new traditions and ease holidays into a new routine. If you’ve always stayed home during the holidays, maybe this is the year to see a holiday show or enjoy a light festival. If it’s been an intimate opening of presents on Christmas morning, invite grandparents or aunts and uncles for moral support. Try to plan activities that put the focus on the kids.
2. Pre-determine who will do what.
Planning ahead as much as possible can help avoid arguments. Determine who is buying what gifts, who will wrap them, who’s cooking, who’s hosting and so on. The more details that are in place, the less room there is for disagreements.
3. Set guidelines.
If you’ve moved on, springing your new significant other on your ex is probably not the way you want to begin merging holidays. Set some ground rules, whether it’s the guest list or off-limits conversation topics. The more practice you have making ground rules, the easier it will be next year.
4. Get some help.
Counseling can be a great way to make the day go smoother. A neutral party can give you tips and insight to help you leading up to and during the holidays. Book a couple of sessions to design your holiday plan of action.
5. Take care of yourself.
When you’re in a good place, it’s easier to face life’s challenges. Make sure you’re getting enough sleep, eating well and doing activities that keep you centered.
6. Use collaborative divorce tools.
Collaborative divorce is all about communication and compromise. If you used the collaborative process for your dissolution, the skills you learned can help you with spending the holidays together after a divorce.
The collaborative divorce process is designed to focus on a positive, mutually agreeable outcome for all parties. It can assist couples in staying amicable even after the divorce is finalized, which is often better for everyone involved. If it’s in your family’s best interest, it can even pave the way to spending holidays together in the future. If you or a friend is considering divorce, contact a professional at Best Legal Choices today.