Betrayal brings major changes into your family life, including how you choose to celebrate the holidays. Many families hold onto some of their old traditions while introducing some new innovations. However you go about celebrating the holidays, intentionality is key.

If you’re looking to smooth your transition at holiday time, here are steps that can make the season a little brighter.

With Regard to Separation and/or Divorce:

  1. Arrange for holiday visitation in advance. You can always make modifications if things change over the years, but this will give you some framework for going forward. Alternating years can work for many people.
  2. Create your own special occasions. Take this opportunity to plan for some fun. If your kids are spending this year with their other parent, make up a reason to throw your own party when they get back.

  3. Coordinate gift giving and spending. You or your ex may feel tempted to spend too much in an effort to compensate for the disruptions in your children’s lives.
  • Try to find common ground on gift giving so you can stick to your budgets and avoid creating resentments. You may still be able to pool your funds for the big ticket items.
  1. Radiate good cheer as best as you can. If you have kids, let them know you’re doing all you can so that everyone has a good time.
  2. Get input from your kids. Engage them in conversation to get a sense of what’s most important to them. Maybe they treasure the traditional holiday dinner. Or perhaps they’d be just as happy with a less formal meal and watching a holiday movie instead.

Steps That Ease Your Own Transition Regardless of Where the Relationship Stands

  1. Budget carefully. Betrayal often creates financial hardship. This can be made worse by the commercial pressures of the holiday season.
  • Be realistic if you need to cut back. There are lots of free and inexpensive indulgences to enjoy. Some of the most treasured moments are the simplest.
  1. Distract yourself when appropriate. You’re bound to experience some intense emotions. If you start feeling blue, look for some constructive activities to divert your thoughts and engage your mind. Of course, sometimes these emotions simply need the time and space to be expressed so they can move through you. When that’s the case, give the emotions the attention they need and deserve.
  2. Downplay the holidays. If you feel more comfortable detaching from the seasonal festivities, that may be the best option for you. Practicing yoga and reading a good book may make you happier than attending a big New Year’s Eve bash-it’s totally up to you.
  3. Hit the road. If your family situation and finances permit, this may be a great time to travel. Fulfill a long-time wish to visit an exotic destination and get absorbed in new experiences.
  4. Reach out for support. You may find your experiences easier to manage if you talk your feelings over with a professional counselor or friends. Spiritual traditions may also be a source of strength.
  5. Help others. Helping others makes the holidays more rewarding and creates the best new traditions of all. Try doing some volunteer work. Or just look around to see if you know people who may be spending the day alone and would love to be invited over to your home.

Betrayal and holidays can trigger strong emotions. At these times, we tend to have head-on encounters with our expectations surrounding romantic love and family bonds. There’s no right or wrong way to celebrate…or not celebrate if that’s a better fit. Be gentle with yourself so you can welcome new traditions into your heart and enjoy the time in a way that suits you best.

Dr. Debi
Founder and CEO, The PBT (Post Betrayal Transformation) Institute

A Dose of Dr. Debi: 6 Reasons Why We Sabotage Our Relationships