The Holidays are Hard When Divorce is on the Horizon (Just ask Princess Diana)
You don’t have to have watched season 4 of the Crown, Netflix’s fictional adaption of the lives of the British royal family, to know that there have to have been some awkward holiday moments between Princess Diana and the rest of the royal family during her famously unhappy marriage with Prince Charles. In one of the final scenes of the season, we see Princess Diana going through the motions of her husband’s family holiday in misery.
Unfortunately, this common occurrence of married couples sticking it out during the holidays in order to appease friends and family members is something we see every holiday season and will likely continue to see for years to come. Most of the time, couples going through relational turbulence choose not to get a divorce during the holidays for their children and families. They don’t want to disrupt the festivities of the season and draw a dark cloud over those around them.
So as a couple whose marriage is on its last legs, how do you get through the holidays without completely falling apart?
Step away when you need to.
There will be moments where you’ll need to step away and take a breather. If you’re feeling tension, anxiety, or simply need a break, don’t force yourself to stay in the room. A lot of outbursts happen because people keep their emotions in or force themselves to repress a lot of the things they’re feeling. Before speaking up, leave the room, take a deep breath, and process what your reaction should be. Although leaving the room and processing your reaction is important, that shouldn’t be an excuse to avoid the issues you’re having all together.
Allow your spouse to step away.
If you and your spouse know that you are going to get a divorce but have decided to wait until the holiday season is over, there will likely be tension. If your divorce is contested, the tension will be heightened. If you have decided not to tell anyone, you might have to suffer through some awkward situations. Allow your spouse the same space you are giving yourself. Odds are, they’re experiencing the same emotions you are and learning to process at the same time as you.
The awkwardness is all for your kids.
With a lot of things pre- and during-divorce, all it takes is one thing for everything to start unraveling. If you and your spouse know that divorce is on the horizon but are saving the “talk” with your kids for after the holiday season is over, this is going to be your most important acting experience ever. Your kids are likely not expecting this holiday season to be any different than the others. Kids are a lot smarter than we often give them credit for; they’ll be able to pick up on any tension and animosity that you and your spouse are letting come to the surface, so do your best to keep the tension to yourselves and not let it seep out where your kids can feel it.
Talk to your spouse before holiday activities commence.
Frazzled doesn’t look or feel good for anyone, especially couples that have decided to get a divorce right as the holiday season hits. If this is you, have a discussion with your spouse before all of your regular activities start. Talk about if you’re attending family gatherings, if you’re exchanging gifts, and if you’re shopping together for your kids or if you’re shopping separately. Knowing what’s coming before it comes is the best way to reduce any unexpected outcomes.
Unfortunately, the reason divorces peak in the new year is because couples thought that something in their marriage would change during the happy high of the holidays, but in actuality, the fall back to reality is a quick one and people realize that their marriage is over. If you and your spouse have decided to get a divorce but are waiting until the new year to file, manage your expectations. Be as joyful as you can be, but don’t let the holiday season be a blinder to the state of your marriage.
For divorcing couples, the holidays are a difficult time. Keeping the people you love happy while hiding your real emotions in a public setting can be extremely draining and can cause outbursts that wouldn’t normally occur. Remember to give yourself grace, allow yourself solitude, allowing your spouse solitude, keeping things consistent for your kids, and setting realistic expectations is going to help you get through this holiday season in one piece.
The attorneys at Brown & Dutton would be honored to stand by your side during this difficult time. Jenni, Lance, and Tracy are experienced, transparent, and compassionate Georgia family lawyers that have been practicing attorneys for a combined 32 years. Contact us today to schedule a consultation and begin planning for your future.