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Partner and Head of Family Law, Rugby
If this has been the year where a significant relationship has ended for you, you are probably approaching Christmas and New Year with some ambivalence. These mixed feelings are very normal and natural as you are probably facing circumstances that feel unfamiliar and a tad scary. You may have been with a partner for a long time and built up your own family traditions over the years of being together, observing long held rituals as most families do at Christmas. If the broken relationship wasn’t a particularly long one, in all likelihood Christmas would mostly have been a happy occasion, spending time together, exchanging gifts and socialising with family and friends, whatever the circumstances Christmas is usually one of those landmark occasions that can be difficult to face without a partner.
Over the years of working as a relationship therapist I have heard lots of different stories about how people have chosen to spend their first Christmas separated from a partner. There have been varying degrees of success in terms of how ‘happy’ a Christmas individuals have had, but most importantly people have managed to get through Christmas and with that first festive period without a partner tucked firmly under their belts, they have felt stronger and more able to face a new year.
So for those of you who are going through separation and divorce, maybe it’s worth considering what sort of time might suit you best if you are facing a different sort of Christmas from the one you were expecting. I am sure that family and friends are rallying round offering plenty of opportunities to meet and socialise together and this can work really well for some, with the distraction of being with a lot of people helping to quell any feelings of loneliness. For others being part of a crowd does not work so well as it can highlight the fact that they are on their own, it is really easy to fantasise that everyone else’s relationship is perfect when you have recently split up with a partner and that can lead to feelings of desolation and despondency if you aren’t part of a couple. Doing something completely different at Christmas works well for some recently disconnected from a relationship, as there are then no reminders of previous Christmases with the ex; this might be going on a sunshine holiday or going on a retreat. You might choose to volunteer to do some charity work on the day, maybe serving food to the homeless or entertaining some elderly people who would otherwise be on their own.
If you choose, with a lot of self discipline, the festive season can be ignored and you can spend December 25th in your pyjamas catching up on all the programmes you have recorded in 2017 and not had time to watch.
Just don’t feel you have to be persuaded by the media or societal expectations that Christmas has to be a family time, or a time that has to be filled with parties, food and alcohol, this is your Christmas and you need time to heal and recover from the loss you have suffered, so make sure that for some of the time at least, you spend it how you want to.
If you would like any advice please contact me.