Divorce and Holidays

The holiday season can be difficult for parents who are in distressed marriages. Here are some ideas about making it better.

For many, Thanksgiving is a happy family gathering time. For others, it is a day when you have to see your dysfunctional relatives. For others, including divorced parents whose children will be with their other parent this year, it may be sad and lonely. If that group includes you, I hope you make plans to have dinner and fun with friends.

Among the people for whom the holidays are most difficult are the parents who know they need to divorce but have not yet taken any action. Some have not even told their partners that the marriage is irreparably broken. Others are enduring almost intolerable living situations but do not want to spoil the holidays for their children.

Every family is unique, so my suggestions here may not be well suited to you. For most, though, if you know you need to separate or divorce, saying something now may be a good idea. You can say it gently but firmly. You can certainly say that you do not want to make any major changes, such as one parent moving to a different address, until after the holiday season. But saying something now, to your partner and, together with your partner if possible, to your kids, may be helpful to them. 

You have to use your best judgment. Would saying something now bring unnecessary sadness and dissension into the coming weeks? Or would it alleviate unfocused tensions and anxieties by communicating that there is a plan to end the kids’ constant exposure to open hostilities or icy, palpable anger? 

Some parents in this distressing situation are too busy during the holiday season to work with a Professional Family Mediator to negotiate the details of a Separation Agreement. That’s OK. You can, if time permits, interview one or more and choose someone you and your partner will be comfortable working with in January. You may want to have a preliminary discussion with an attorney to get some advice. Or you can wait a while.

For almost everyone, even those who are much troubled, life includes blessings as well as hardships. Give some attention to what you have to be thankful for. Gratitude is healing. 

Also start making plans for how to change the aspects of your life that need changing. Remember that you probably cannot control what any other person does, but you can change your own behavior, thoughts, and feelings. Based on extensive experience and observations, I can assure you that life often does get better, even for those who divorce.


This article is for informational purposes only. The author is a Professional Family Mediator certified by the Virginia Supreme Court. She is not an attorney. Additional information is available at http://fairfaxmediator.com.



Thanksgiving, Hanukah, Christmas, family mediation, separation, divorce

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