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Coping with Christmas after your split with your spouse

After a split with your spouse, the first Christmas holiday season can be rough. The saccharine nature of the Hallmark movies may make you queasy to your stomach, and you may even feel a little snarky about all those couples in the holiday ads surprising each other with elaborate gifts.

It's okay. You've been through a big change, and you need time to adjust. In the meantime, here are some ways to make coping easier:

1. Don't get stuck in the past

Your entire family structure has changed with your divorce, so don't try to live in the past. You can't keep everything exactly the same, so don't try. Trying to recreate the holidays of the past will just make all those differences glaringly obvious and more painful to bear. Instead, aim for brand-new traditions that are clearly disconnected from holidays-past.

2. Communicate with your spouse

You may not want to do it, but you need to open a clear line of communication -- even if only by text or email. The visitation schedule for the kids is bound to become convoluted at this time of year. Rather than adhere to a rigid schedule, it's usually advisable to allow a little flexibility into the plans to keep everyone on speaking terms the rest of the year.

3. Don't go overboard

This means both "Don't over-indulge in food or alcohol," and "Don't go crazy with money." Both can make your post-holiday situation much worse and put undue stress and strain on you that could affect your ability to parent effectively. Be conservative about what you eat, drink and buy -- and focus instead on building new memories with your children.

During this time of year, your divorce case may experience some delays due to the court's schedule. Take the time to carefully consider exactly what you hope to accomplish with your divorce so that you have a clear set of goals when things do pick up speed.

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