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A practical guide for handling family holidays after your divorce

How do you handle the first holiday season after your divorce?

Turn off the phone, tell everyone you're going on a vacation where you'll be out of reach and hide out in your apartment? Paste a happy face on and go to family gatherings where you know that someone is bound to ask you questions you don't feel like answering yet, particularly in a room full of relatives who don't even see you that often?

Try these options instead, which will hopefully help you find a middle ground between "hibernate" and "tell the same miserable story over and over again" to each person who asks:

1. Harness the power of the internet.

Odds are good that you have most of your relatives' contact information by email or Facebook. About a week before the next family gathering, send out a short message that lets people know that you want to focus on family and happy things during the holidays -- rather than dwell on your divorce. Let them know that you'll be happy to talk about anything else -- but the subject of your divorce is just off limits for now.

2. Don't be afraid to use leverage.

If you have children, this is one time where it's okay to use the kids as an excuse if that's what it takes to keep your nosy Aunt or gossipy cousin from discussing -- loudly -- the shift in your marital status or asking questions about where you are in the divorce. While you might feel a twinge of guilt, saying, "I want to avoid the topic for the kids' sake, thanks," is better than trying to find a way to avoid discussing the child support or custody arrangements.

3. Practice a shut-down response.

If all else fails and that one relative or family friend doesn't get the hint, be ready to shut down the conversation clearly but firmly. The more you practice your response, the easier it will roll off your tongue. Keep in mind it doesn't matter what statement the other person makes or question they ask -- you are under no obligation to discuss the details of your divorce. Instead, smile sweetly and say something like, "I think it's just much nicer if we talk about holiday things, don't you? I get tired of talking about my divorce. What's new in your life?"

Source: HuffPost, "Making It Through Your First Holiday Season After a Divorce," Dr. Nikki Martinez, Nov. 01, 2017

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