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During divorce and after: Happier holidays

While everyone would like the holiday season to be like storybook tales of family and good cheer, sometimes difficult realities intrude on life. Sometimes couples struggle with not only holiday pressures, but also with their relationship and marriage.

In many cases, the holiday season is the last stand for a marriage. That’s why more couples file for divorce after the holidays than at any other time of year.

If you’re going through divorce or separation at this time of year, there are some coping strategies that can help people in transition through the holidays.

  • Communication: as difficult as it can sometimes be, it’s important to talk over the holidays with your estranged spouse or ex. He or she is your children’s other parent, so it’s important to hear and consider what they have to say about how to help the kids have good holidays. Of course, it’s also important to ask your children about what they want and need as your family goes through this transition.
  • Reset expectations: in his book, “No More Holiday Blues,” Dr. Wayne Dyer wrote that “if you allow yourself to indulge in self-pity or fantasies of how your holidays ought to (or used to) be,” you’re going to defeat yourself and experience a holiday letdown. Instead, figure out enjoyable things to do when you’re alone (dinner with friends, trips, movies, etc.) and new traditions when you’re with your kids.
  • Be proactive: if you will be alone for all or part of the holiday season, you can enrich your life by helping out at your church or a food bank or other community organization that assists people less fortunate. By giving your time and effort to others, you will help them and yourself.

Many people going through marriage transitions also use the holidays as a time to figure out sustainable diet and exercise regimens that enable them to look better and feel better.

While the holidays are not the easiest time for families going through changes, experts say that if you commit yourself to helping your family through this challenge, you will all have the opportunity to make the changes in your lives positive ones.

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