You know it to your very core. You’re done. You’ve lived in an unhappy marriage for far too long. The thought of your bad marriage during the holidays AGAIN is almost more than you can bear.
Watching your husband overindulge at holiday parties is unbearable. Listening to that fake laugh your wife puts on when she is trying to be social makes you cringe. You hate the way your spouse looks, acts, talks, and smells. Even the sound of your spouse breathing makes you crazy!
Holiday spirit be damned! All you want this year is a Christmas divorce!
How Not to Be the Grinch Who Ruined Christmas
The problem, of course, is that, as much as you want your marriage to be over yesterday, announcing that you want a divorce for Christmas will make the Grinch look like Santa Claus compared to you.
You don’t want to ruin the holidays for your kids. You don’t want to make your entire extended family feel awkward and uncomfortable. So, even though your spouse gets on your very last nerve, the adult thing to do right now is definitely to suck it up and soldier through the holidays.
Figuring out how to do that without spending the entire holiday season swimming in a vat of egg nog, however, can be a challenge.
The Christmas Divorce Dilemma
If you’ve never been particularly adept at hiding your feelings, getting through the holidays without mentioning the word “divorce” definitely won’t be easy. (It also doesn’t help that getting a divorce seems to be the only thing you can think about right now.)
Yet, even though putting on a “happy face” during the holidays may require you to put on an academy award winning performance, you CAN do it!
Here are 10 tips that will help you make it through the holidays without blowing up the holidays like a bottle rocket in a garbage can.
1. Forget about Norman Rockwell.The more you try to make this holiday season “perfect,” the more energy you’re going to have to throw at pretending to be something you are not. Doing that will make you feel like even more of a fraud. This year, let go of your expectations of having the best holiday ever, and just aim for a holiday that is “happy enough.”
2. Focus on What You Want.What you focus on expands. If all you think about is how much you hate your spouse or how much you want out of your marriage, you are dooming yourself to a holiday full of misery. Instead of focusing on getting a Christmas divorce, focus on getting through this holiday with as much happiness as you can muster. Remember, too, that next year will be better.
3. Start Wrestling Your Fears Now.Getting a divorce will force you to plunge head first into the icy unknown, with no guarantee of how everything will turn out. No matter how convinced you are that you are doing the right thing, it is normal to be more than a little terrified of going through a divorce. If you really want to feel like you’re “doing something” to move forward during the holidays, get yourself a therapist and start working on a plan for how you will deal with the divorce you know you want.
4. Lay Off the Holiday Cheer.While it may be tempting to drown your sorrows in a giant mug of hot spiced rum, doing that is courting disaster. Over-indulging in alcohol will only make you more depressed. Plus, when your inhibitions are down, you are way more likely to blurt out that you want a divorce, probably at the worst possible time, and in the worst possible way.
5. Really Put Your Kids First.Doing your best to make this holiday as happy as possible for your kids is a triple win. Your kids will enjoy their holiday more. You will be happier because your kids will be happy. Plus, focusing on your kids will distract you from your own unhappy situation.
6. Make Time For Yourself Every Day.Trying to put on a happy face when you’re dying inside takes an incredible amount of energy. No matter how busy your holidays are, take a little bit of time each day to do something that makes you happy. Even if all you have time for is to get yourself into bed 15 minutes early, do that. You’re not a robot. You need to recharge your own batteries in some way every day.
7. Take Baby Steps.Instead of focusing on how trapped you feel by having to stay married right now, start preparing yourself for the divorce you know is comingEducate yourself about divorce. Make a budget. Start researching different parenting schedules. Do some small thing to move your divorce forward in your head. Even making small progress toward your divorce will make you feel less anxious.
8. Change Your Approach.The last thing anyone needs at the holidays is more drama. This holiday season, refuse to argue with spouse. (Yes, you can!) When your spouse pushes your buttons, walk away. Doing that may take an extreme amount of self-control. But, you, and your kids, will enjoy a much more peaceful holiday if you can pull it off. (It’s also great training for your future divorce!)
9. Appreciate What You Have.This is probably the last holiday you will spend with your spouse and your kids as a family. Even if it’s less than perfect, treasure it! (And don’t heap giant mounds of guilt on yourself in the process, either!) Find small moments of joy. Instead of dreading spending Christmas with your spouse and his/her extended family, try to make the holiday celebration great. If you succeed: Bravo! You’ve given your kids (and you) a great gift! If it still sucks anyway, next year you can remind yourself of how much better off you are.
10. Dream.Imagine your life as you want it to be. See yourself being happy. Visualize yourself as living where you want, and with whom you want. Picture your kids as being well-adjusted, and satisfied with their new lives. Not only will dreaming distract you from your current woes, but it will keep you focused on what you want. That will make looking away from what you don’t want (and don’t like) this holiday season, a little easier.
Surviving your bad marriage during the holidays
Getting through the holidays when your marriage is on the rocks takes courage and strength. Give yourself credit for taking on that challenge for the good of your kids.
As unbearable as the holidays may be for you, it helps to remember why you’re sucking it up for one last year. You’re doing it for your kids. You’re doing it to make their holidays happy and peaceful. In the end, whether they ever know it or not, that can be one of the best gifts you ever give them.
Karen Covy is a divorce attorney, advisor, mediator and coach who is committed to helping couples resolve their disputes as amicably as possible. She is also the author of When Happily Ever After Ends: How to Survive Your Divorce Emotionally, Financially, and Legally. Karen has been featured on the Channel 7 News, WCIU You and Me This Morning, WGN Radio, MarketWatch, The Goodmen Project, and numerous other radio shows, publications, and podcasts. You can find her articles on The Huffington Post, Divorced Moms, Divorce Force, GUYVORCE, and Your Tango, as well as on her own website at karencovy.com. This article was originally published at https://karencovy.com/christmas-divorce-surviving-holidays-unhappy-marriage/.
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Reading the article there were a lot of good points and clear reasons why it might be necessary to swallow the pain and displeasure in the interests of your children. I agree there is much that needs to be sacrificed as long as it is genuinely in children’s best interests.
Christmas is never a good time if you are part of the Christian faith but it might be helpful to identify a clear time when it is appropriate for all concerned to express how you really feel and make the decision. Otherwise, hurt for everyone just drifts on.