It was a cool, crisp fall day in early November when she told me. Finishing a walk in the woods where we admired the changing colors of the leaves in our neighborhood and talked about our marital struggles, she turned to me and say the four words which would change our family forever: I want a divorce.
I later learned that she had been planning this announcement for years, and now that the time had come had decided that it would be better to get it out in the open so that in her words “We could all have one more nice holiday season together before things come to an end without it looming over our heads.”
Have you found yourself approaching the season in the midst of separation or divorce? Perhaps this year will be your first year as a newly divorced person and you are anticipating how to “share” your children with your ex-spouse during the holidays. Regardless of your situation, surviving the holidays with a sense of dignity and peace, being your best self for both yourself and your family, can be challenging!
However, inviting a Certified Divorce Coach to go through it with you can help to ensure that you walk through the season successfully!
Here are some things to consider as you engage with your Certified Divorce Coach around this topic:
1. What version of your best self do you aspire to be during the season?
2. What potential obstacles do you anticipate to being your best self?
3. What steps can you take, and plan can you make, to being your best self?
4. Make a plan and schedule for the season, with important events you wish to attend. When will you be with your children, your own side of the family, or by yourself?
5. How can you best take care of yourself, and what obstacles might you encounter, i.e., getting exercise during the winter months or overindulging in food and alcohol.
6. Do you anticipate awkward comments and prying questions? How do you want to respond?
7. Are there others whom you might help in order to get the focus off of yourself, i.e. serving at a homeless shelter or serving at a food pantry?
8. Are there any new traditions which you might want to begin this season, i.e. an annual ski trip or overnight stay at a nice hotel?
The list can go on for you depending upon your own unique set of circumstances. In my case my birthday also falls four days after Christmas, so there was an additional event to plan for and consider. After being unexpectedly given divorce papers I wasn’t exactly feeling much like celebrating my birthday (or anything else!) but I was determined to white-knuckle it, gritting my teeth and biting my tongue through my tears, all the way through until after New Year’s Eve.
While it would have been a difficult time regardless of what I did, I am convinced that if I had been able to enlist the help of a Certified Divorce Coach to help me navigate the situations, emotions, and overwhelm, I would have had a much more positive and peaceful “nice holiday season together”.
Reverend Sean H. Gartland, M.Div., M.Ed., A.C.H.E., CDC®
Founder and Director of Christian Divorce Recovery (www.christiandivorcerecovery.net) has spent over 30 years serving in various roles in Christian ministry and healthcare including as a missionary, pastor, chaplain, therapist, and administrator, and in various settings, including inpatient, psychiatric, rehabilitation, and geriatric facilities. His assignments have included locations in Latin America, the Caribbean, and Europe. He currently serves as a therapy manager in the national federal healthcare system, and a Chaplain in both a local hospital and a Fire and Rescue department. He is married, has 2 grown daughters, and enjoys outdoor adventures, especially anything related to the open water and ocean, including kayaking, whitewater rafting, water skiing, body surfing, and scuba diving. In addition to over 10 years of experience providing Christian divorce recovery services, he is available for customized training and consulting on spiritual-emotional resilience specifically tailored to members of the Fire/EMS/First Responder communities and their families. Areas of specialization include marriage, divorce, relationship, and addiction resilience, suicide awareness, and spiritual/emotional care.