The first few holidays after a divorce or separation are often awkward for the former couple and their family members. Between running errands, preparing for visitors, and dealing with routine tasks, it is not unusual for relatives to take the place of a parent when the time for visitation comes around. Even if you do not interact with other relatives during visitation transfers, it is likely that you will have phone conversations or other contact with relatives who are in town for the holidays. Dealing with ex in-laws is not easy, but it does not need to be completely unpleasant. Keeping a few tips in mind will increase your chances of surviving the holidays with ex in-laws around.
The best way to make it through quick interactions with former relatives by marriage is being as polite as humanly possible. Hiding behind a mask of civility and cordiality is usually easier than engaging in open warfare with people you used to spend holidays with. Even if you are greeted with unsmiling iciness, try to remain calm and focus on being even more polite. Giving in to the impulse to answer rudeness with more rudeness can turn a brief encounter into a small battle faster than you would believe possible.
Remain Diplomatic When Discussing Your Ex
Occasionally a former relative may approach you to express sympathy over the end of your relationship and present him or herself as an ally with whom you can be open. Though it is usually tempting to gossip about your ex with one of his or her relatives, succumbing to that urge can lead to disaster. Remain as diplomatic as possible when it comes to discussing anything involving your ex. Do not openly discuss your break up, any new relationships, or criticize your ex in any way. Keep the discussion brief and do what you can to avoid causing problems.
Keep Your Children in Mind
Remember, your children will see those family members for the rest of their lives and may already have close bonds with that side of the family. Arguing or fighting with your former in-laws can create difficulties for your children in the future. A bit of politeness and diplomacy can preserve the relationship between your children and their relatives. Focusing on the feelings and needs of your children will make interacting with former in-laws much easier to handle.
Be Prepared to Negotiate
If both you and your former spouse have many friends or family members visiting for the holidays, events may start to overlap or occur outside of normal visitation times. Instead of adapting a rigid policy that leaves no room for compromise, be prepared to negotiate with your ex. Refusing to bend may lead to hurt feelings, resentment, and future problems with your ex, his or her family, and even your own children.
Obtain Neutral Advice
There are times when nothing you attempt to do works and the involvement of former in-laws turns a minor issue into a major dispute. If you believe that an inability to work with your former spouse and family is going to lead to a custody dispute, it may be a good idea to consult with a family law attorney. The compassionate attorneys at Vayman & Teitelbaum understand that getting through the holidays is complicated enough without custody becoming a concern. We are prepared to provide you with the legal advice you need to work through any dispute. Contact us today at one of our four Atlanta area locations so that we can schedule a consultation to begin helping you with your unique situation.