We are a family in crisis. It has been a year of conflict. Our marriage is collapsing. I am not sure what the new year will bring but right now we need to get our kids through the holiday. I don’t know what to do.
The holiday season at the best of times is stressful.
When you are a family in crisis it only makes the situation much worse. Do you stay or go before the holiday? From experience I can say that committing to the holiday together at a time like this can be very challenging.
If your decision is firm to have a family holiday season then there are a few things to consider.
Keep your eye on the goal of making it through the holiday. Be civil but don’t pretend anything with your spouse.
However, a truce should be considered. If you have been in conflict for much of the past year then everyone needs some relief from the stress. There is nothing to be gained by arguing. Make a choice to not engage in any arguments. You both know the flash points very well so try to avoid them if possible. Will your spouse agree to this type of arrangement?
Suggest you do it together for your children. They have been part of the conflict and are probably feeling quite emotionally bruised by it. It is not pretending to put aside arguing because your children will see through any acting. It is making a good choice and being considerate of everyone in the family during the holiday season.
Straight away make a promise to yourself that you will control any expectations from family and friends. Do what you can do and don’t let the holiday control you. Perhaps think about a new tradition that everyone might enjoy.
Sometimes switching up traditions creates a different and more agreeable frame for the family. There’s less ‘remember when’ with a new tradition. If your children are old enough, include them in the holiday planning. Doing things everyone wants to do will help lessen the stress.
When you are out at social functions remember the goal is to get through the event. Holiday get-togethers are not the time to discuss your personal problems. Keep your conversations focused on the present.
Talking about a possible separation and divorce in the New Year is not really necessary. If friends ask how you are doing then be honest without being too forthcoming. There will be plenty of time in the New Year for family and friends to be informed.
Finally, if your children are older and want some answers then they do deserve that consideration. If no firm decision has been made about a separation than tell them just that. Whatever your future decision, you have decided to spend Christmas together without any disruption to the family and leave it at that. Admit it is a very difficult time and what you hope is that everyone will try to make their best effort.
Take some time for yourself over the holiday. The stress will be challenging to manage. If you can, trade off some of the responsibilities with your spouse so you both get down time. Some family activities can be divided up and shared. That way each of you has a chance to regroup.
There will be plenty of time after the holiday to get your life and your future in order. For now consider it a few weeks reprieve before the big job begins.
If you are in need of a place to seek some advice on a way forward during separation and divorce please write to firstname.lastname@example.org – Reaching out is the first step.
ABOUT LINDA SIMPSON
“I take strength from your calm, your honesty, and the hope you give me for my future.” Cheryl
Linda is a fresh voice in the divorce advice world. She offers a pragmatic, common sense approach to life after divorce issues based on over twenty years surviving and thriving following a very traumatic divorce.
As a single parent, her sons are an enormous source of joy in her life. She is a loving mother and grandmother to four delightful grandchildren.
She holds a degree from the University of Waterloo with concentrations in sociology and philosophy and guidance counselling certification from Queen’s University.
She is an accredited trainer for The Peace Education Foundation, a leader in conflict resolution training. The institute is ‘dedicated to educating children and adults in the dynamics of conflict resolution and promoting peacemaking skills in home, schools, and community.’
In a long and successful teaching career, she also served as a counsellor and workshop facilitator for SEL (social emotional learning) programming and The Peace Education Foundation throughout her school and school district and was a frequent conference presenter for SUNY Potsdam Faculty of Education USA.
She writes for The Divorce Magazine UK and her blog is seen regularly on Huffington Post Canada where the focus is life after divorce and parenting issues.
She is a writer and poet and is presently at work on a book based on her divorce experience.