There is never a good time to tell your spouse you want a divorce. Many agonize over it for months, sometimes years. You have procrastinated and procrastinated, and finally you decide you just can’t take it anymore and you want to end the marriage. You can’t imagine going through the ordeal of Christmas faking it – so you tell your spouse. I call that the “Christmas Bomb.”
Don’t Be a Jerk: Don’t Drop a Christmas Bomb
Timing is everything folks. Telling your spouse less than a month before Christmas is being really inconsiderate. It is unfeeling and some may say heartless to not only your ex-spouse, but your kids as well. It doesn’t matter that the marriage had been falling apart for years. It doesn’t matter that it is not a surprise to your spouse or perhaps even your kids. It is still a shock to everyone. They need to come to terms with the finality of the end to the relationship or the “family” as it had been.
Christmas and the holidays are also a busy time of year socially. There are functions with family, friends and at work. It is difficult to have to explain your marital status, your absence or the absence of your spouse at these events. It was months before I could answer questions about my marital status.
So don’t be a jerk!
If you have waited this long, wait until after the holidays. It is why there is a peak after New Year’s in separations. People wait till the holidays are over to start new beginnings. Remember you have likely spent the last six months coming to terms with your decision and the marriage. Your spouse will need the same time.
Be Sensitive and Compassionate
Your sensitivity and compassion will be rewarded when it comes to settling the terms of your separation. Fail to be considerate and a vengeful spouse will cost you financially and emotionally. What about your kids? Do you want to ruin their Christmas or holidays? Dropping a Christmas bomb will make their holiday memorable for all the wrong reasons.
To help you get through the holidays without feeling hypocritical, limit the social events you attend. Make your excuses so that you don’t have to lie or demonstrate affection you no longer feel. It really is not that difficult at that time of the year. People understand “Thank you for the invite, but we already have plans.” You don’t need to explain that your “plans” are to keep this last holiday together simple and less stressful. This will also be better so that when you do tell your spouse, they won’t feel a greater hurt by you acting the loving and attentive spouse, or aloof and angry, at functions just a few weeks before.
When the holidays are over, take a deep breath and be honest with your spouse. It takes a lot of courage to be the one to say it is over.
Mary Krauel (CPA, CA, EMBA, CDFA) is the owner and senior negotiator of PRM Mediation.