It may be a bit of a cliché now that family holidays bring out the worst in everyone, whether your family lives within 10 minutes or 10 hours of Lake County. For adult children and their spouses, spending time with grandparents and surrounded by children looks great on paper. In reality, though, old arguments and resentments come out, and tension mounts. For family members who are newly separated or divorced, the dynamic is even more complicated.
For couples without children, the challenge will be for each partner to reestablish his or her role within the family as a single person. Family members will have to walk the fine line between sympathy and pity. The whispered, “How are you, really?” can be just as stressful to a newly divorced sibling or close relative as the bear hugging, “Glad you’re rid of him!” or “I never liked her.”
There is no one piece of advice to give to every person in the situation. Some families work out a plan ahead of time. “Bill’s still pretty raw from the separation, so let’s just take his lead on talking about it.” We know of one woman whose husband had walked out the Monday before Thanksgiving. When she and her parents, siblings and their families were assembled at the table, she raised a glass and offered a toast: “Here’s to not talking about my marriage for the next three hours.”
What happens if there are kids in the mix? We’ll discuss that in our next post.
Source: Sun Sentinel, “Newly divorced angst over holiday plans,” Marci Shatzman, Nov. 7, 2012
Our firm works with couples on child custody and visitation issues like the ones reeferred to here. You can learn more about our Libertyville, Illinois, practice by visiting the child custody page of our website.