5 Gifts of a Holiday Divorce

Sad broken gingerbread menFor many people this year, the holiday season will coexist with separation or divorce. Couples around the world will be spending Christmas and New Year’s in a way they never imagined. Mothers and fathers will be spending the holiday without their children due to custody arrangements; others will be displaced from their home or uninvited to the usual festivities with friends and family. Some couples are struggling through the holidays together, not knowing if the New Year will bring reconciliation or divorce. Regardless of the story or circumstance, divorce throws a wrench into this spirited season of peace, joy, and love, but it doesn’t have to ruin it.

While the timing of your divorce might feel unfair, going through this challenging transition toward the end of the year does have its benefits. As with anything else in life, your perspective and attitude will determine your experience and ultimately how you come out on the other side. Instead of thinking you just need to get through the holidays, consider an alternate viewpoint.

Here are five reasons a holiday divorce can be a gift:

  1. Lots of distractions: The holidays are filled with activities, plans, invitations, and shopping. These are all wonderful and healthy distractions from the drudgery of divorce. Any other time of year, you would be working much harder to find things to occupy your time or keep you busy. Let yourself get swooped up in the festivities just for a little while so you can let go and find some respite in the season.
  2. Time for reflection: Most of the time, the holidays bring with them some downtime. This is a great opportunity for self-reflection and setting intentions. Be grateful that you are not completely overwhelmed with work, kids’ schedules, school, or other daily routines that rob you of “me time.” This is your chance to focus on you, get your head and heart straight, and work on building endurance as you hit the ground running in 2013.
  3. Opportunities to give: Giving is one of the most heart-opening things we can do as human beings. When we give to others, we feel connected and inspired. It strengthens our compassion muscle, which increases feelings of happiness and contentment. There are always opportunities to give during the year, but with the holiday season, you have a built-in system that organically allows you to put your gift-giving skills into practice. Like a plant that has been fed and watered, let the good feelings feed and sustain you.
  4. Focusing on what matters: The holidays mostly center on family, friends, connection, and being “home.” Hopefully, it’s a chance to really focus on the most meaningful and important aspects of your life. This might be time spent with your children, catching up with that friend you’ve been meaning to call, or spending time doing the things you love but never make time for. The holidays can be centering and grounding, both things you deeply need when your marriage is floundering or finished.
  5. Learning your own strength: Facing the holidays as a divorcing person takes courage and strength. You may not feel like you have it in you to make it through, but you will. Once you do, you will learn your own strength and resilience to manage one of the most difficult situations life has to offer. You will not have just survived, but thrived through the holidays.

© Copyright 2012 GoodTherapy.org. All rights reserved. Permission to publish granted by Andra Brosh, PhD

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

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  • Sandra

    December 20th, 2012 at 11:14 AM

    Well this is a side of divorce that I had not considered until now. . .
    I wish that I had had something like this to help me through the pain of last year when I was going through my own divorce.
    I will admit that I did not use that time to find my own strength but to delve into his weaknesses.
    It made me feel small and weak instead though and I know it was hard for the kids

  • alex

    December 20th, 2012 at 12:15 PM

    my girlfriend broke up with me a week before christmas a couple of years ago and I thought my holiday season was doomed and it was only going to be me feeling blue.when christmas did arrive,all my gloom started to evaporate and with family and friends around and the very good feeling brought forth by the season comforted and helped me.by new years I was well over her and I had the festive season to thank.

    so for those of you who are staring at divorce or separation,it may actually be a good thing!look forward to the new year,you can have new resolution and start off a new life!its the way you see things,its all in the state of your mind!

  • Dr. Brosh

    December 20th, 2012 at 1:58 PM

    Alex – I’m glad to hear that you not only recovered from that heartbreak, but that you were able to jumpstart the new year with a positive attitude and a healed heart.
    Happy Holidays!

  • Dr. Brosh

    December 20th, 2012 at 2:00 PM

    Sandra – It’s so common for divorcing men and women to focus outside of themselves through the trauma of divorce. Timing isn’t everything with divorce, so it’s never too late to take that time back. Maybe try some of these practices this year! Wishing you all the best in the coming year.

  • Sandra

    December 21st, 2012 at 4:12 AM

    Thanks Dr. Brosh! I am in a much better place today than I was one year ago today, so that’s a good thing. I am encouraged by the notion that it is NOT too late to take some of it back and make it right. I don’t want to go through another Christmas focused only on the negative in my life.


    December 21st, 2012 at 9:13 AM

    Well a divorce is a divorce, it may not be a good thing at any time. but to make the best use of the situation and circumstances is a wise thing to do indeed. While it may not be the best Christmas yet, it can still help you get over the pain of divorce. So it would be much better for somebody in this situation to go out and celebrate the festive season than to lock themselves up in the room and cry all day. Thank you for the cheerful attitude, a lot of people may benefit from it.

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