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Surviving the holidays when you're about to divorce

If you are stuck in a bad marriage, chances are good that you may be dreading the upcoming winter holidays. Perhaps you and your spouse have already made the decision to divorce but didn't want to traumatize the kids during what is supposed to be a joyful time of the year.

It's likely not going to be your best family Christmas, but below are tips to help you and your soon-to-be-ex make it through the season.

Understand this is a final holiday

Regardless of your relationship with your in-laws, this will likely be the last holiday that you spend together as a family unit. To that end, you may want to end things on a high note with your ex's extended family.

Give your children this last gift of an intact family celebration. This may mean not responding to provocative remarks and biting back your anger. Repeat as often as necessary to yourself: This is the last time.

Focus on the kids

Don't make it be about you and your spouse. Instead, do all that you can to make sure the kids have a happy holiday. Whether you feel like baking cookies or caroling, at least make a good effort and allow them to have a magical holiday.

Be present

Yes, the past was bad and your future remains uncertain. That doesn't mean that you can't enjoy yourselves in the moment. Share laughter with family and friends and don't dwell on unpleasant things. Enjoy the happiness of your children and realize that despite your many differences, both you and their other parent love them dearly.

When the frenetic holidays finally wind down, it will be time to take action. Learn all that you can about the Tennessee laws that govern divorce, custody, spousal and child support before filing your petition for divorce in the family law courts. You may realize that a traditional divorce is not in your best interests and decide to reach accord through mediation.

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