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How to get through the last Christmas before separating

20 Dec

If you are considering divorce but want to wait until after the festive period here are tips for getting through the last Christmas together

Family by the Christmas tree

Many couples who are considering divorce wait until after the festive period before taking the next steps to separate. Often this decision is taken to keep the family together and to not cause upset around what should be a happy time. For others, it is make or break - one last celebration together to see if things can work out or not. However, the festive period can rub salt in the wounds of a failing marriage – more time together, financial pressures, visits with extended family, more alcohol and the expectations to be merry when you are feeling anything but joyous leads to real tension and stress.

In the light of the above, here are my tips on how to get through this Christmas and make it better for you and your children.

Lower your expectations. This year, let go of your expectations of having the best Christmas ever and just aim for a Christmas that is “happy enough.” While that may go against the grain, particularly if you are an overachiever, you will feel much better doing that than you will if you’re aiming for a perfect Christmas that you’ve no chance in realistically achieving.

Focus on the positive. If all you think about is how much you hate your spouse or how much you want your marriage to be over,  you are dooming yourself to a miserable Christmas. Focusing on everything you lack will make you feel worse. Instead, focus on getting through this Christmas with as much joy as you can muster for you and your children. After all, this is a Christmas they will remember as the last one with their parents together. Don’t make it memorable for the wrong reasons.


Start dealing with your fears now. No matter how sure you are that you are doing the right thing,  getting a divorce is a big transition that comes with a level of uncertainty none of us are comfortable with. You need to give yourself time over this holiday to prepare yourself and tackle some of your fears before they become an issue. Make a list of the things you are worried or scared about, then start working through confronting each one. For example, research the divorce process, look for support, find someone to talk to – be it as a friend, coach or therapist. Don’t muddle through on your own or let your fears get the better of you.

Lay off the booze. As tempting as it is to drown your sorrows in a large glass of mulled wine, it could end in disaster. Overindulging in alcohol (or any other drug) will only make you more depressed. It will make you feel better in the moment (maybe), but worse in the long term. You may also end up saying things you could come to regret.

Put Your Kids First. Doing your best to make this Christmas as happy as possible for your kids is a double win. Your kids will enjoy their Christmas more, and you will be happier because your kids will distract you from your own situation.

Make Time For Yourself Every Day. Papering over the cracks and trying to put on a happy face takes a lot of energy. So, this year more than ever, it’s important to take a little time for yourself. Do something that makes you happy every day – exercise, sleep in, go for a walk, listen to a podcast, watch a film, call a friend. And above all remember you are not a robot,, you need to look after your own mental state every single day.

Don’t argue. The last thing anyone needs at Christmas is more drama. Yet, the Christmas holidays seem designed to dial up the drama. Everyone has conflicting expectations and is stressed to the max. This year, chances are everyone’s nerves have already been on edge for a while and therefore a happy, calm Christmas may seem impossible! But you can do things differently. This Christmas, refuse to argue with your spouse and if your buttons get pushed just walk away. I realise that may take an extreme amount of self-control,  but you can do it. The reason you have decided to put your divorce off is for them, so remind yourself of this.

Appreciate this Christmas for what it is. If this is the last holiday you will spend with your spouse and your kids as a family, try to treasure it! Appreciate your Christmas and don’t beat yourself up that this is your last. Often divorce, done in the right way, can be the best thing for a family, and can actually strengthen relationships.  

Getting through Christmas when your marriage is ending, takes courage and strength. Give yourself credit for doing what’s best for your kids in a year that has already been rough on you all. This selfless act is something they will always remember.

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