"You, as one of the two people in a divorcing relationship, do not owe anyone an explanation on why you are divorcing."
It can be challenging going home for the holidays with or without divorce in the picture. Many simply do not have the best relationship with their loved ones, or there may be unresolved issues preventing you from connecting on the level that you wish to connect with them at.
Even if you do have a supportive and close family of people who love and encourage you no matter what, it can be difficult to show up without your former significant other.
Whether the holiday is Thanksgiving or Christmas, it is a time for families to come together, and when a divorce is finalized, it can feel like your family has been split in half. Even if it has been several years, it still can be challenging facing people that sat and watched you pledge vows to a person that you are no longer with.
One of the most important things to remember when facing family members after a divorce is that many of them do not know how to react to this situation either.
They may be at just as much of a loss for words as you, and they may not know how to express the sadness and empathy for your situation. This may be new territory for them too.
The first step in the process is showing up. Showing up shows the effort necessary to bridge tension and awkwardness. Some may look to avoid family altogether, in an effort to avoid the awkwardness, but that is counterproductive to your own emotional health and can damage your relationship with your family.
You want to create a layer of openness about yourself. Approachability is key, and letting people in to what you are feeling and experiencing is important because it gives them a better sense of how to navigate the difficult waters of your divorce.
Their perception of what occurred in your marriage may clash with the reality of the situation, and it is important that any inaccuracies or misperceptions are corrected, so that your relationship with them can move forward uninterrupted by what they think did or did not occur during the course of your former marriage.
Family who disagrees
There may be family members that disagree with the idea of divorce on a moral or religious level, and it can be challenging dealing with them, especially when they are at the same gathering as family members are more supportive of you and your decision to end a dysfunctional and unhappy relationship.
It is not up to you, as their family member that they presumably care about, to convert them to understanding why you decided to divorce your ex-spouse. It is up to you to create a support system for yourself, made of people who will comfort you during the highs and lows of the post-divorce emotional landscape. It is up to them to show that they care and decide if they wish to be a part of it.
Helping others move on
You, as one of the two people in a divorcing relationship, do not owe anyone an explanation on why you are divorcing, according to the San Diego Family Mediation Center. However, many times, immediate and extended family members may need a little bit of information to explain the end of the marriage, just to move on from the emotional attachments they may have made with your previous spouse.
This can be a challenge during the holidays. With everyone being happy to see one another again, it can be a shift in mood to bring up why your divorce occurred. It may be better to offer an explanation in private or at another time with the family member asking questions.
Getting into the spirit
It also can be a challenge to get into the spirit of the season when so many family members may be walking on egg shells around you. Shifting the focus from you to something else, like the food, or safe subject like sports, may take some of the pressure off of you. It also would allow you to enjoy the holiday season.
It truly is important that you do enjoy the season for yourself. With how often the divorce may affect aspects of your life, you need to be able to enjoy the time dedicated to spending it with the people that you love. Whether that is family or friends, surrounding yourself with a support system of people who care will give you the best opportunity to enjoy the holiday season after a difficult divorce.