6 Tips on Surviving Holidays With Your Ex

woman spending time with ex-husbandYour relationship may be over, but the holidays are just gearing up. And you know what that means: LOTS of face time with your ex. Still love him, like him, or loathe him, you've got to figure out how to deal.

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And no, that doesn't mean hiding in the bathroom with an extra-large glass of eggnog.

Try one of these grown-up strategies instead:

1. Have a reason for being there. And by "there," we mean sitting next to your ex at your kid's holiday play. Or agreeing to all go caroling as a family ... It's totally awkward.

"Articulate one overriding objective," says Paul Hokemeyer, JD, PhD, a licensed marriage and family therapist who works out of New York City, Los Angeles, and Telluride, Colorado. "'I'm here for my mother, my child, my kids' school.' Whatever it is, keep it in the fore of your mind," he suggests. "It will enable you to stay grounded when drama swirls around you."

2. Dump your expectations. You might vividly remember all the past holidays you spent with your ex (for better or worse). But "these are new holidays," says Randall M. Kessler, Esq, a lawyer in Atlanta, Georgia, and author of Divorce: Protect Yourself, Your Kids, and Your Future. "Your world, your children's world, and your ex's world are different."

Sure, you might keep some beloved traditions. Or start something brand new. (Christmas in Puerto Vallarta, anyone?) Either way, remember that "you're still creating a new future for you and your kids," Kessler notes.

3. Use the buddy system. Have a sibling or best friend in town? (Or who WILL come keep you company when your ex will be around?) "Use that other person to keep you focused on your articulated reason and distract you when things begin to get heated up," suggests Hokemeyer. 

More from The Stir: How Do You Move On From a Divorce If You Still Love Your Ex?

4. Know your limits. So you agreed to have dinner at your ex's new girlfriend's house, did you? Have a specific entry and exit time, Hokemeyer says. "Spend only the minimum time required. Don't feel that you need to fill someone else's expectations of you. If you feel you can only keep it together for half an hour, then half an hour is all you should go for."

5. Keep your kids out of it. Without a doubt, it softens the blow for kids to see their parents getting along after divorce. "Unfortunately, I see too much of the opposite behavior," admits Kessler. "Parents trying to 'beat each other to the punch,' or tell their child their side of the story." Avoid trying to get your child to take your side, Kessler advises. Although you might no longer want a meaningful relationship with your ex, your child DOES deserve the opportunity.

6. Don't focus on the past. "You can glance at the past, but don't stare," Hokemeyer cautions. "Let the past be the past and work diligently to create a new future. Remember that the holidays are a time of peace, love, and grace. Live these qualities instead of just reading about them on greeting cards."

 Holidays with Ex

Image via © Wavebreakmedia/iStock and Lasse Kristensen/shutterstock

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