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Blogs from December, 2023

Coping with Your First Christmas Post-Divorce

It’s no secret that divorce takes a heavy toll on couples. For many families, the financial and emotional stress of ending a marriage isn’t limited to the actual divorce proceedings, but continues long after the divorce settlement is finalized.

It’s normal for new singles to need time and space to heal after divorce, especially while grieving the loss of a relationship they expected to last forever. Sadly, feelings of pain, loss, and loneliness are often amplified during the holiday season, leaving many recent divorcees wondering how to cope with their first Christmas without their partner.

How can couples survive their first holiday season after divorce? Keep reading to learn healthy and effective ways to cope with your first Christmas post-divorce.

5 Tips to Survive the Holidays After Divorce

After a divorce, the holiday season can bring up a wide range of emotions. It’s normal to feel powerless or alone after divorce, especially during a season that promotes joy and peace. While it may be impossible to avoid negative feelings altogether, there are healthy coping strategies to survive your first Christmas post-divorce.

Below are five tips to cope with the holiday season as a recent divorcee:

1. Prioritize your needs by creating new traditions.

The holiday season often comes with a myriad of expectations. From appeasing parents and in-laws at family gatherings to purchasing the right gifts for loved ones, the hustle and bustle of the holidays isn’t without its stressors, especially for married couples.

While there can be much to grieve after divorce, new singles can also take heart in knowing that some of these holiday-related pressures no longer apply. Maybe you don't have to buy a gift for your disgruntled in-law this year, or you can finally opt out of your uncle's socially awkward Christmas party. Whatever the case, take advantage of the opportunity to ask yourself what you want.

Maybe you prefer a quiet evening in on Christmas. Maybe you want to enjoy festivities at a local event or show. No matter your preference, take a moment to reflect on your needs and meet them. If you're no longer obligated to collaborate with your ex-partner's Christmas plans, do what you can to make this holiday season your very own.

2. Practice patience and self-compassion.

The holiday season is never without challenges. Divorce is a substantial life change that will inevitably bring overwhelming feelings, from grief to relief to anger to hopelessness. Rather than putting a label on these emotions, do your best to accept them. Let them flow.

Repressing emotions we don’t want to feel is linked to adverse health effects, and it’s important to give yourself permission to feel what you need to feel—even if it isn’t what you imagined or wanted. Remind yourself: It will get better. What I’m feeling right now is temporary. It’s okay for me to feel this way.

3. Accept that you’ll need some support.

Asking for help isn't easy for many people. While it can feel unnatural to ask for support when we need it, especially as independent adults, it's actually very natural and necessary to lean on other human beings for support.

If you feel uncomfortable communicating your needs to friends and family, consider why you feel that way. Do you feel that you don’t deserve it? Are you concerned with how you’ll be perceived? Are you worried they’ll say no? Consider these questions by journaling or meditation to get the root of your feelings. Follow up with some affirmations: It’s okay to need help. I deserve help. Everyone needs help sometimes.

There's a good chance that your loved ones will jump at the opportunity to assist you in any way. Like you, some people simply aren't sure how to ask. Don’t hesitate to communicate your needs and ask for support, even if it’s as simple as scheduling lunch with a co-worker or enjoying a friend’s company in the evening.

4. Plan ahead.

Divorce can bring up a lot of emotions. If your divorce was particularly contentious or painful, you might find yourself dealing with unexpected “triggers”—sights, sounds, smells, or sensations that involuntarily bring up memories and reminders of your painful experience.

While it’s important to accept that some things are beyond your ability to control, it’s also healthy to focus on things you can control, especially in moments when you feel you lack agency. To alleviate some of these uncertainties, it can be helpful to make a plan ahead of time.

They don’t have to be big or elaborate. It can be as simple as planning a weekend excursion to your favorite coffee shop or signing up for an event. Whatever the case, find commitments that provide a sense of purpose, encourage healthy goal-setting, and help you feel more in control of your life, whatever that looks like for you.

5. Set healthy boundaries.

While some people will respect your boundaries after divorce, there's typically a handful of friends and family who don't know how. From pestering you for details of your recent breakup to pressuring you to engage socially, it's essential to set clear expectations for others in your life by setting healthy boundaries.

Maybe it's time to admit to your sibling that you'd rather talk about anything else besides your divorce. Maybe you want to turn down the umpteenth invitation from your colleague inviting you to “let loose” at the pub when you prefer to stay in and enjoy the quiet. Whatever the case, don’t let others dictate your needs.

It's okay to set boundaries, even if it feels awkward at first, to prioritize your personal health and well-being. The company worth keeping will surely understand.

Compassionate Advocacy for New Jersey Families

At DeTommaso Law Group, LLC, our compassionate lawyers have decades of experience representing couples and families throughout Somerset County. From child custody disputes to alimony to property division, our firm has extensive knowledge of family law to prioritize your unique needs. We can guide your steps wisely throughout the legal proceedings and advocate for the favorable outcome you deserve.

Our skilled attorneys can help you navigate the legal intricacies of family court. Call (908) 274-3028 to schedule a confidential consultation