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Filling Up During the Holidays When Your Relationship is Running on Empty

We don’t know about you but the state of affairs feels a little bleak right now. The global pandemic is in its 10th month and we continue to live sorely disrupted lives. Some of us have experienced loss of health and tragically the loss of a loved one. 

We may be running on fumes socially, emotionally, physically and financially. Stress, anxiety and fear are at an all time time high. And on top of everything we are all somehow meant to add one more stressful life event: the holidays.  

When all of that is going on and your relationship is on the rocks or even ending, the pain right now can be searing.  You are not alone and we are here to help.  

Whether your relationship is suffering from pandemic fatigue and you’d like to make it better, you two are in a bad place and unsure if you’ll make it, or you’re just trying to buy time until you can separate or file for divorce, we’ve got you. 

Untangle The Knot’s online resources, programs, community and expert guidance, will help you untangle relationship knots big and small. Our intention is to provide you with the ideas and inspiration you need when you need it. We can get you and your relationship through this trying time with clarity, calm and proven strategies for decreasing overwhelm and moving forward. 

Over the next couple of months, we will be giving you a virtual lifeline… complete with strategies, practical advice and the direction you and your family need right now.

Join our private community now and receive free access through the new year to help you cope. Life is complicated enough, so there are no strings attached. You can cancel anytime!  Learn more at https://bit.ly/3evlqzi

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Celebrating Mother’s Day After Divorce

Mother’s Day is around the corner, and many women are finding themselves facing their first Mother’s Day after a divorce. If this describes you, then you might be feeling unsure about how to celebrate Mother’s Day without a partner to take the lead in planning family outings or helping your children find Mother’s Day cards. Even if it has been a few years, it can still be awkward and and a little sad.

Celebrating Mother’s Day post-divorce often requires finding ways to celebrate yourself, especially if your children are too young to make plans on their own. This might feel uncomfortable or disappointing at first, but it’s important to remember that you deserve to be celebrated for your hard work as a parent.

Teaching Your Kids to Celebrate You…Guilt-Free

If you’re single and have young children, then there’s a good chance you’ll need to make your own plans if you want to celebrate Mother’s Day. Chances are your ex-partner took the lead in planning Mother’s Day activities in the past, and depending on your ex, he may continue to do that moving forward. However, you should not feel uncomfortable about leading the charge in planning your own celebration.

There’s nothing wrong with teaching your children to celebrate you during Mother’s Day. In fact, not only do you deserve to be honored, but actively showing your children how to make Mother’s Day plans is a great way to teach them life skills like respect, thoughtfulness, and generosity.

Helping Children Choose Cards and Gifts

Many children look forward to giving their mothers cards and small gifts on Mother’s Day. However, depending on your children’s ages, they may not be able to provide cards or gifts on their own. If your children are young, you can sit down with them and make homemade Mother’s Day cards together. If you want to join the card-making festivities, but don’t want to make a card for yourself, you can make a Mother’s Day card for a friend, a relative, or your own mother.

If your children are old enough to make small purchases on their own, another option is to give each child a small amount of money and make a family visit to a local gift shop or mall. This way, your children will be able to enjoy surprising you with the gifts that they choose.

Spending Quality Time Together

You may not be getting breakfast in bed this year if your children are still too small to cook, but there are plenty of other Mother’s Day activities that you can do together. Many libraries, community centers, or other organizations offer special Mother’s Day crafting events or brunches. These activities are a great way to spend time with your children, while meeting other mothers in your community. Similarly, you can make reservations to take your children out to eat at a favorite restaurant. If you feel awkward about celebrating yourself on Mother’s Day, another idea is to spend time giving back to the community through a local soup kitchen or another place in need of volunteers. Whatever you do, let it be a fun day for you and the kids!

One of my favorite activities is to take a trip to the local nursery for flowers and herbs that we plant that day. The items we plant that day remain a source of connection through the summer when the kids water the plants and harvesting the herbs all summer to cook together.

Celebrating Mother’s Day on Your Own

There may be some years when custody arrangements or other conflicts mean that you won’t have your children at home on Mother’s Day. This can make it especially difficult to celebrate Mother’s Day after a divorce. Many mothers in this scenario choose to celebrate Mother’s Day earlier or later, depending on their custody schedule.

Another option for celebrating Mother’s Day when the children aren’t home is to find a way to connect with other mothers in your life. For example, is there a way that you can connect with your own mother or aunts on Mother’s Day? Do you have any friends who are in a similar post-divorce situation and who may appreciate your company? If you feel up to it, you could even volunteer to visit a local nursing home to spend time with women whose children or grandchildren may not have been able to visit on Mother’s Day.

Ultimately, Mother’s Day is a day to celebrate you. Parenting post-divorce is difficult, and Mother’s Day is an excellent time to focus on feeling good about your accomplishments.

Are you in search of more support and advice as you move through the divorce process? Please contact us to learn more about how Untangle the Knot can help.

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Valentine’s Day Divorce: Time to Kick Cupid to the Curb?

Valentine’s Day is approaching, but not everyone is feeling the love. Thousands of people are trapped in unhappy marriages and are ready to move on, but may be unsure of how or when to take the next step. For many, that time is now. So if you are contemplating divorce this Valentine’s Day, know you are not alone.

According to some reports, the month of February sees a sharp increase in the number of divorce filings. The reason for this is somewhat obvious. At a time of year when the air is thick with love, the unhappiness of a bad marriage can feel especially suffocating.

Valentine’s Day divorce filers usually fall into two distinct groups: those who have been planning to get divorced for a while, and those who are searching for a reason to stay.

The “Delayed New Year’s Resolutioners”

When it comes to those who have been wanting a divorce for a while, putting it off may simply seem easier than dealing with the grief and hardship that can come with it. Some are in relationships where they feel unsafe, while others are merely unhappy with their partner. These people have told themselves for years that they need to become single. And though the new year may seem like a perfect time to consider such a life changing decision, some people get cold feet and choose not to file, or postpone the divorce until the busyness of the new year has quieted down.

People that have made up their mind, but get cold feet right after New Year’s, usually regret the decision. By the time February rolls around, these people cannot stand the thought of another Valentine’s Day with their spouse. Faking happiness through dinner is just not possible anymore. These delayed New Year’s Resolutioners often choose to act before the special day. They want to be single again, and they want out of their marriage, before another miserable year goes by.

The “Waiting to Exhale” Crowd

On the other hand, some couples hold out for Valentine’s Day, in hopes of making one last attempt to reconcile their differences. Though one or both disgruntled spouses are considering divorce, they may still be holding onto the hope of fixing their marriage. Maybe they have children, or they are married to their first love. There are many reasons why someone would want to stay in a marriage, even while they are actively considering divorce. These people are waiting to exhale. Hoping that their spouse gives them a reason to reconcile, while still considering divorce an option.

Waiting for Valentine’s Day can be a good option for some couples. It’s not unheard of for two people to rekindle that spark that has been missing over a romantic evening, away from the normal stresses of life. Of course, some couples may simply wish to consider all their options, before making the final decision to seek a divorce. Maybe an extended separation or a vacation could save the marriage. By waiting, these couples might be able to save their relationship.

So What Next?

Contemplating divorce is a difficult process. Often your entire social circle is tied up in your marriage. You may feel completely isolated. Fortunately, there are numerous resources available to people considering divorce.

At Untangle The Knot, we provide an ideal resource for people considering divorce. The “Contemplating Divorce” section of our website is a great place to start. In this section, you will find numerous insights to get answers to your biggest questions. This section offers helpful information for those who might be worried about issues such as the cost of divorce or about losing custody of their children. We even discuss opportunities to save your marriage from the divorce. The guidance found on this page can be invaluable when making your decision.

Ultimately, if you do decide to move forward with divorce during this Valentine’s Day season, we hope that the resources here at Untangle The Knot can make the process a little easier. In addition to the wealth of information and guidance we provide, our site can also help you locate professionals in the counseling, financial, and legal professions, to give you the personal assistance you need.

Going through a divorce is stressful in so many ways, but living through an unhappy marriage can be even worse. We encourage you to get the guidance and support you need to move forward in your marriage, or into your single life.

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Father’s Day 101 for Divorced Dads

Let’s face it: Celebrating Father’s Day as a divorced dad is just not the same. In the past, your wife may have helped the kids create hand-made presents while you enjoyed a relaxing day free of “honey-do” lists and being honored and loved by your family. Now the day may bring on feelings of sadness or failure or frustration that you weren’t able to make your marriage work or that your relationship with your kids has changed. Here’s how you can put a positive spin on the day so that it continues to be a meaningful celebration for you and your kids, no matter what the situation is.

If you won’t be able to see your kids on Father’s Day, it’s important that you still reach out to them. Set up a time without interruptions where you can call, Skype or FaceTime with them. Make the day even more special by sending them a handwritten note or card telling them how proud you are to be their father. If you will be able to see them at a different time, plan to celebrate Father’s Day together then.

And even if you aren’t able to see your kids on this special day, don’t forget to take some time for yourself. Schedule a game of golf with your buddies, go for a mountain bike ride or hike or grab dinner at your favorite restaurant.

If you have your kids for just part of the day, spend some time in advance planning out what special activity you would like to do together. Grab some sandwiches and hit the park to fly kites, throw a football around or ride bikes. Go for a hike, play a couple rounds of mini golf or plan a special meal you can make together.

If you have the kids for the whole day or weekend, make sure you have their typical nap, meal time and other schedules down pat so you can avoid any unnecessary meltdowns. Once again, get the kids involved in planning some activities. You could hit a baseball game or other sporting event together or have a “family movie night/slumber party”. If you know other divorced dads who have their kids for the day, send out invites for a kids/dad barbecue and lawn games.

When it comes to handling Father’s Day with your ex-husband, depending on the nature of your divorce, you may not be feeling a strong desire to shower him with gifts and celebrate his accomplishments as a father. But it is very important to support your kids in honoring their father; you must respect their relationship with him, and this is an opportunity to support that bond as you navigate your way through the ups and downs of the divorce process. Help them to pick out a gift for their father, encourage them to make cards for him, and do what you can to ensure they are able to spend some time with him.

The bottom line? Look at Father’s Day as an opportunity to get your kids involved in starting some new traditions. This will make the day much more enjoyable for everyone.  Dads – Leave a comment about how you plan to celebrate. Moms – leave a comment about how you are supporting your kids with Father’s Day.

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10 Tips for Celebrating Mother’s Day After Divorce

Celebrating Mother’s Day after divorce may initially have the same appeal as a root canal. Holidays are all difficult in the beginning, but this one can have a particular sting to it because it’s the day to celebrate you as a mom — a time when your husband and kids would come together in your honor, showing their love and appreciation for you with flowers, gifts and other special things.

Or maybe not. When you’re in an unhappy marriage, holidays often do not live up to Hallmark versions of the day. It could be that you were hoping for your family to shower you with love, but reality fell short, leaving you feeling rejected and hurt. Regardless of marriage troubles, this is the one day your husband and father of your kids should honor you as a mother. When it doesn’t happen, the cut is deep.

You’re in a new chapter now, and this is your chance to create new traditions, making Mother’s Day special and important to you. Depending upon the ages of your kids, you may need to take the reins in planning the day. Ideally, their father really should help the kids with a card and buying something special for you regardless of his feelings for you. You will always be the mother of his kids and that should be appreciated. Unfortunately, not all men will rise to the occasion. Remember, this is a reflection on him as a person, not you as a mother!

Here are some tips for creating your new Mother’s Day:

  1. Make a plan. Talk with your kids about what would be a special way to spend the day as a family. It’s a great opportunity to teach them about the importance of doing things for others.
  2. Pamper yourself. In the day or two before Mother’s Day, take some time out for yourself to do what makes you feel like a queen! Get a massage, pedicure or facial. Maybe get your hair done. You deserve to take a break and have someone take care of you for a change!
  3. Enjoy that breakfast in bed! Granted, more than likely you won’t be the lady of leisure waiting to be served. Since you’ll be a part of the process, you can be sure to have the breakfast you want. Maybe make some blueberry pancakes from scratch and serve with fresh fruit and special coffee for you and hot cocoa for the kids. Head back to your room and enjoy your breakfast in bed with your kids!
  4. Plant your garden. This has been my tradition since my daughter was two months old. I planted flowers as she hung out in her baby swing next to me. It’s much more fun now that my daughter and son are old enough to help. We plant herbs and flowers and these become a point of connection for us as they bring me herbs for cooking and pick pretty bouquets for me throughout the summer.
  5. Go for a bike ride or hike. Hit some beautiful surroundings to work in a little physical exercise. If you’re a mom who is parenting alone 50% of the time or more, exercise may be a very valuable commodity. This is your day, so put yourself first on the list!
  6. Buy yourself fresh flowers. Just because the father of your kids isn’t facilitating the purchase doesn’t mean you should go without. And don’t just wait for Mother’s Day. Beautiful, fresh flowers always make any room look and feel special.
  7. Go out to your favorite restaurant. Just beware that this could be a trigger for you with all those two-parent families out celebrating as well. If so, avoid it. Stay home and cook a special dinner. Or opt out of cooking and order take out. Set the table nicely, enjoy those flowers you bought, and pick up some Prosecco and sparkling grape juice for a Mother’s Day toast!
  8. Write a letter to yourself. Give yourself the appreciation, love and compassion you deserve! Tuck the letter away and pull it out next time you are feeling low.
  9. Add a four-legged friend to your family. Have you been thinking about adding a dog or cat to your family? It’s a great day for it! Check out your local shelters and find the little one who is looking for their forever home!
  10. Celebrate other single mothers. Send flowers or a card to another single mom. Let her know how wonderful of a mother she is and how much her kids love and appreciate her. Sometimes the best way to improve your mood is to make somebody else’s day! You can also invite another single mom to celebrate the day with you — you guys and the kids could start your own brunch or dinner tradition, or go for a hike with the kids that culminates in a gourmet picnic.

If these ideas aren’t resonating with you right now, go ahead and ignore them! You have a giant permission slip to feel any way you want and do anything you want. If you don’t want to do the traditional brunch with extended family — don’t. If you want to cuddle up with the kids in jammies and have a movie day, do that. It’s your day. Be kind to yourself!

Learn more about Untangle The Knot can support you through your divorce.

Happy Mother’s Day!

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Surviving Valentine’s Day; During and After Divorce

If you’re divorced, contemplating divorce or going through divorce, the pink and red decorations, candy and cards that have overtaken an entire aisle in the grocery store (and the airwaves) as soon as the Christmas decorations disappeared could be enough to make you want to tell Cupid and his minions to shove it. But before you get caught up in all of that, take a moment to reflect on past Valentine’s Days; were they really that great? As my marriage was in its final chapters,  I remember standing in that dreaded card aisle trying to pick the perfect one that defined my marriage or relationship with my now ex-husband… I sure wasn’t feeling the cards that said “you’re the love of my life” or “I can’t wait to tear your clothes off”. I’d shuffle through my options, becoming more and more depressed, until I found a card that was blank inside with a cute dog on the front. There. That would work for now. Sound familiar? I’m sure I’m not alone in this one!

So, it’s quite possible that your past Valentine’s Days as a couple weren’t all that great either. Instead of succumbing to this overly commercialized quasi-holiday, and wallowing in misery because Hallmark thinks you should be spending the day on a bed of roses, serenaded by verses of original poetry, followed up by an extravagant dinner and jewelry that costs more than three month’s salary, do what makes you happy. As the saying goes, being alone for the right reasons is far better than being with someone for the wrong reasons. Use Valentine’s Day as an excuse to love yourself. If you have kids, arrange a dinner date with them at their favorite restaurant or celebrate with another fun activity you all love to do. If you’re on your own, embrace the positives of that. Sleep in and pamper yourself with a massage or pedicure. Buy yourself a present. Get a workout in. Grab some friends and have an anti-Valentine’s Day dinner or brunch. All of this applies to men going through divorce as well. Declare your independence from Hallmark (and that dreaded card aisle), grab some buddies and hit the slopes or the links, or enjoy a night out on the town.

Whatever you decide to do (and it’s completely within your right to do absolutely nothing or wallow just a teeny tiny little bit), use this day as an opportunity to treat yourself right—to truly love yourself and the person you have become. Visit Untangle the Knot’s Physical and Spirit sections for ways you can get active and nourish your body and soul– all are excellent ways to pamper yourself from the inside out. You can also treat yourself to a session with our Life Coach, for guidance on how you can live your best post-divorce life.

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New Year, New You: 5 Wellness Tips for Coping with Divorce

As you welcome the new year, it’s also a time to reflect upon the past year. If you’re on this site, most likely a lot of your thoughts center on the state of your relationship–the good, the bad, the ugly. You could be thinking about when to divorce or going through it, but now it’s time to look toward the future. Your New Year’s resolutions and goals may involve some very hefty, life-changing decisions. The term “New Year, New You” brings on an entirely different meaning; life as you know it may be evolving into something brand new. But while you’re dealing with all this “stuff”, don’t forget to remember the most important thing: taking care of yourself.

If you’re not getting enough sleep, maybe eating an occasional vegetable or two and moving your body, you are making it that much more difficult to tackle the big decisions in your future. It is so easy for your physical health to decline when the stress level increases, but this is a time of building strength–inner strength and physical strength. As you think about your resolutions and goals for 2015, be sure to include some that will help you stay on track physically to help you in coping with divorce. Here are five ideas:

  1. Sign up for an exercise class–this is a great way to get motivated about exercise in a group setting.
  2. If you’re already working out regularly, challenge yourself. Sign up for an adventure race, 5K, 10K, half-marathon or more.
  3. Cut back on fast food. It’s expensive and adds inches to your waistline.
  4. Get technical. Invest in one of the many fitness trackers available. Many will track your steps, sleeping habits and heart rate–all of these will help you stay motivated and on top of your fitness goals.
  5. Drink up. Water, that is. Try to get eight glasses of water a day. Keep a water bottle with you at all times.

Take a moment to get inspired by these ideas, and brainstorm additional ways you can truly take care of yourself physically during a time when you need to be your strongest. Many more tips and additional helpful information about the importance of physical health during this pivotal time in your life is available with your Untangle The Knot subscription — learn more!

Gretchen Ferraro, UTK Editor and Wellness Expert

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Are You “Faking It” Through the Holidays?

You know who you are… You are putting on a happy face and carrying on with your holiday routine. Cookies are baked, cards with the picture of the happy family have been mailed, you’ve attended the work and neighborhood parties, and now it is time for the actual holiday. You’ve done well to this point, but here’s where the rubber can hit the road and the proverbial mask falls off. Extended family has arrived, you and your spouse are spending more time together since you’re both taking time off during the holidays, you’re running around buying last-minute gifts, wrapping, preparing for the holiday meals, putting together toys and all of the other usual odds and ends. Holidays are stressful under the best of circumstances, but is so much more difficult when your marriage is on the rocks and you are just trying to put on the happy face.

And The Oscar Goes To…

I know this feeling all too well. I was absolutely that person, and I know many others who are in the same boat. If this sounds like you, trust that you are not alone! So many people play this part, and some play it for many years. I believe I’m a contender for the “faking it” Oscar. My last “married” Christmas was interesting, to say the least. We were a month away from our divorce being finalized, I had just purchased a new house, we were still living together as we didn’t want to tell the kids until after the holidays, nobody outside of our family and a couple of really close friends knew we were divorcing, and both mothers were staying in our home over Christmas. I still baked the cookies, went to the neighborhood parties and did all of my “duties”. Even though that was only two years ago, I can barely remember it. Probably for good reasons! This was “faking it” at its finest!

The First Christmas

Last year was my first Christmas being single again. I ignored the regular routine and did whatever I needed to just get through it. I think I was so overwhelmed by not having my kids for Thanksgiving or Christmas Day that I numbed out a bit for a few weeks. I ignored the Christmas cards – outgoing and incoming. I remember the feeling I had the last time I sent out Christmas cards. It was a card with our family picture on it — it looked picture perfect even though we were a mess. This was inauthenticity at its best. I felt like a fraud. A few weeks ago, I actually found a stack of unopened cards from last year in my Christmas boxes. I don’t think I was ready to face the pictures of the happy families. It was a pretty lonely feeling.

What a Difference A Year Makes

This year, I decided to be all in again. I had family pictures taken with the kids for the cards. I debated on sending out our family picture, or just one of the kids. I chose to use a picture with all three of us because that’s what felt right, and I feel great sharing that! I scrubbed my mailing list and deleted the names who belonged to my ex, or that I just didn’t feel I wanted to connect with anymore. Our list had gotten so long and had more casual acquaintances than real friends. More inauthenticity. I added new people who I am grateful have come into my life over the last couple of years. I took the extra time to write notes to people I haven’t spoken to in quite awhile. This year, I feel really good about sending the Christmas cards — even though they will be showing up closer to New Year’s Eve!

I have found that I also have a different perspective on the cards I receive. I definitely receive less than I used to because I was obviously scrubbed off of others’ lists, but the cards I do receive have so much more meaning. They are from those who are really in my life in a meaningful way. This feels so much more authentic to me. The pictures of the picture-perfect families no longer bother me. I am happy for those who are happy and feel honored to be in their lives. I do know that some of them are “faking it”, as they have confided in me — this tends to happen when one has gone through divorce. For those people, I appreciate how they are feeling and hope they will find their way to a happier place.

If you are one of those people, here are some thoughts to help you keep your sanity through the holidays:

  1. Carve out time for things you truly enjoy that isn’t intertwined with the pressure. Have lunch with a friend, bake some cookies, zone out to a football game – whatever it is. Decompress.
  2. Identify your triggers and decide in advance how you will respond instead of having the emotional reaction. You know what they are — it could be something your spouse says or how they act, your mother-in-law’s critical tone, whatever it is that typically throws you into an argument or tears. Be conscious of that and decide that you will not engage and just let it roll off of you when it occurs. You’ll instantly feel just a little better that you didn’t allow yourself to get dragged into the normal muck.
  3. Watch the alcohol. This is the time to eat, drink and be merry, but too much alcohol added to holiday festivities that include an unhappy couple is a recipe for disaster. Even if others are drinking too much and the hurtful words start flowing, your clear head will help you see it for what it is and avoid disaster.
  4. Focus on creating a wonderful holiday for your children. Be present with them so you can fully enjoy the precious moments.
  5. Get some exercise – it simply makes people feel better and feel more grounded. Even just taking the dog for a short walk every day will do wonders for your sanity!
  6. Remember to practice gratitude. Consciously think or write about at least a few things, no matter how small, for which you are grateful. This will automatically elevate your mood at least a bit!

Most importantly, set a strong intention to not be a member of the “faking it” camp next year. If there is any hope, work on fixing your marriage. Visit the Untangle The Knot Contemplating Divorce section for completely free information to help you through your decision.  Once you make a conscious decision that “faking it” is no longer acceptable, an authentic and happier life will be waiting for you. It could be waiting to be unearthed within your marriage, or may ultimately be found down an entirely different path. Whatever the case, it’s worth the journey to find the life you want to be living and to be “faking it” no more.

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Divorced or Separated? 6 Tips for Surviving Your First Holiday

I’m staring right down the barrel of my second holiday season as a divorced person. I’ve been bracing for it since I saw the first pumpkins at the grocery store. This is the season of family and friends and creating memories Norman Rockwell-style. It’s a much different story when you are newly separated or divorced. Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas and New Year’s are coming at you and there’s nothing you can do to stop it. If you could borrow Dorothy’s red shoes to click your heels three times and be transported to January 2nd, you would!

Thanksgiving was always “my holiday”, and I loved it. I loved cooking delicious food and creating a warm experience for family and friends. I would prepare food for days and make sure the linens were freshly pressed — everything had to look perfect. I loved sitting in my dining room the night before, looking at my dining room table set with my wedding crystal and china sparkling in the dimly lit room. This was the moment when I would happily anticipate what was to come the next day. Reality rarely lived up to this feeling, however, especially toward the end of my marriage. There was always a lot of goodness in the day, topped off by too much stress, alcohol, bickering and too little teamwork and basic respect. By the time everyone left, I would feel deflated or downright depressed. Everything looked like it should to have the makings of a perfect holiday, but when the marriage just isn’t there, it’s really hard for everything to feel like you know it should.

Last year was the first time in 10 years that I didn’t host. Not only that, I didn’t have my kids. I woke up alone on Thanksgiving. In years past, I would wake up early and turn on the Macy’s parade for the kids as I made stuffing. Not this time. My brother hosted Thanksgiving, and, for the life of me, I have no idea how I made it through those lonely hours until it was time to go to his house (when normally I was cooking, hosting and busy with my family and kids). The day had the same cast of characters it had every year, except this time I was a party of one, not four. I had lost my identity. I had no husband, no kids and “my holiday” was no longer mine. I was the only person over the age of 3 who wasn’t part of a couple. I’m not going to lie — that sucked. That said, I was incredibly grateful to be with everyone that day.

To add a little salt to the wound, my ex-husband hosted Thanksgiving in my old house, on my old dining room table set with my wedding china. He shared this day with my children, ex-mother-in-law and his new girlfriend. I wonder if she sat in my chair…

This year is a much better story. I am once again hosting Thanksgiving, and, for the first time, in my new home. Again, we have all of the same people, but now I have my kids. Again, I will be the only one “uncoupled”, which I’m sure will stab me here and there, especially as I’m nursing wounds from a recent break-up. That said, I am looking so forward to it, and I feel like it will be a wonderful day. I’m not expecting a “Norman Rockwell” holiday (I don’t remember his paintings showcasing the single mom on holidays or any day), but I think it will feel more like it, which is all that has ever really mattered.

If you are newly separated or divorced, you are probably somewhere between wanting to stick your head in the sand or filled with angst, and it could change by the hour. I encourage you to think about what is coming and how you’ll get through it. My only rule is don’t do what you think you should do or what others want you to do. If you aren’t comfortable with a situation, don’t do it. You need to take care of you. Period.

The holidays will never be the same. They just won’t. But, that is likely not an entirely bad thing. You may even discover you enjoy the holidays more when the stress of a bad marriage doesn’t cast a cloud over the occasion. That all sounds well and good, but how do you actually get through this? Here are some tips to consider:

  1. Celebrate on a different day. If you don’t have your kids on the actual holiday, celebrate on another day. Enjoy your Thanksgiving dinner the day or weekend before. The event is what is important, not the day on the calendar.
  2. Serve others. Helping others can really lift you up when you are down. Consider going to a shelter and serving Thanksgiving dinner to people in need.
  3. Retreat to nature. Go for a hike and relax in the beauty of the outdoors. Find peace in the solitude.
  4. Travel. If you want to simply escape the day or long weekend — do it. Escape from your normal environment to change the dynamics of past family holidays. I have friends that either hit Las Vegas or Mexico every year they don’t have their kids. They have actually come to really look forward to those years!
  5. Exercise. Get your day started with doing a 5K Turkey Trot, yoga class or a long walk. Even though this may be the last thing you want to do, it will probably make the rest of your day just a bit better.
  6. Be kind to yourself. Show yourself the same respect and kindness that you would to a friend who is hurting. Give yourself the permission slip to do whatever it is you feel you need to do.

You can find many more helpful tips at Untangle The Knot. We offer many more ideas for the lifelines that can help you make it through the rough days, how staying connected to important parts of your life can provide you a much needed anchor, and considerations for holidays to incorporate into your parenting agreement — just to name a few.

The approaching holidays may create terrible feelings initially, but it will get easier over time. That’s what I’m told, and I am counting on it!

I would love to hear your comments on your experience with holidays as a newly separated or divorced person. How did you get through it? What are your plans for this year? There is no rulebook for how to do this. Let’s support each other through to the other side!

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