Surviving the Holidays During a Marriage Separation

Marriage Dynamics InstituteHolidays, Separation

Holiday music is playing everywhere. Hallmark is running sentimental movies in a perpetual loop on television. Your mailbox is flooded with catalogues, reminding you of gifts you want to purchase and how little time you have to do that.

A marriage separation is a difficult and emotional time The stress that comes with the holidays can often make things worse. If you are separated from your spouse this holiday season, or if you know someone who is, here are a few ideas to help make the season more bearable.

  • Scale down your expectations because this year will be different. Try to focus on a few things that are most important.
  • Respect traditions. This is really important if you have children, but it’s important for you, too. If it’s Christmas time and you always put up a tree or light Advent candles, do your best to maintain that routine. The rhythm of traditions and rituals can have a calming effect and provide a sense of stability during unsettled times.
  • Be realistic about social gatherings. Don’t feel that you have to attend every holiday function. Again, focus on the ones that are most important.
  • Avoid being alone too much. Holidays are times to be with friends and family. Human beings need community. So don’t deprive yourself of this source of comfort during a difficult season.
  • Do something for someone else in need. Serve food at a homeless shelter. Pack a small box of gifts for needy children in another country. Visit a home for the elderly and sit and talk with someone who needs the company. Giving to others lifts your spirits and provides relief from thinking about your own problems.
  • When it comes to gift-giving, resist the temptation to overspend. A marriage separation often means making adjustments to the budget.  So if you are feeling deprived, or you are afraid your children are missing the normal holiday routines, avoid trying to compensate with money. Instead, make cookies together or drive around and look at holiday lights. There are lots of ways to enjoy the season that don’t cost much.
  • Take care of yourself. Sleep, good nutrition and exercise are proven to reduce the negative effects of stress.

The holidays will come and go. It’s possible to experience the peace and joy of the season even when you are separated from your spouse. One message of hope you should hear this season is this: reconciliation is possible. Professional resources are available, even during the holidays, to help you and your spouse discover how to repair and rebuild your marriage.

Marriage Dynamics has been offering the A New Beginning workshop for eighteen years. Couples often attend this three-day workshop during a marriage separation. More than 75% of the couples who participate choose to reconcile and stay together. A New Beginning may be just the gift you need this Christmas.

For more information, see or call 1-800-650-9995.

About the Author

Marriage Dynamics Institute

Marriage Dynamics Institute (MDI) wants to cultivate healthy families, churches, and communities by helping create marriages full of joy, meaning, and purpose. Having served more than 75,000 couples since 1994, MDI offers workshops and seminars for marriages at every stage, including those in crisis.