Family gatherings and traditional celebrations are times to enjoy with those we love and treasure the most. For divorced families, these times can become stressful when animosity and negative emotions get in the way. When ex-spouses can work amicably together, family gatherings can be a time to celebrate holidays, birthdays, graduations, special events, and milestones.
Tips for Successful Family Gatherings after a Divorce
As our society becomes more global, family gatherings are not held as often as they were in the past. Now when a family plans a get together, it is a big event that often takes months of planning, coordinating travel plans, and rearranging work schedules. The last thing anyone wants hanging over their head is anxiety about ex-spouses and relatives coming together after a divorce.
With compromise, collaboration, and effort, family gatherings of blended families can be successful and enjoyable. The following are a few tips for making new memories:
Keep the focus on the reason for the celebration: Whether you will be attending a graduation, wedding, milestone birthday, anniversary celebration, or a family reunion, keep the focus on the guest of honor and not on those who are part of your past. When families share in the joy of their marital children or relatives, personal feelings can be pushed aside for the event.
Plan ahead: Prepare for your family gathering ahead of time so that awkward moments can be kept to a minimum. Reservations at different hotels, scattered arrival times, seating arrangements, and photo opportunities can be arranged so that ex-spouses and relatives can keep awkward moments to a minimum.
Be cordial: How ex-spouses handle seeing each other at family gatherings will have a direct effect on the behavior of other guests. If ex-spouses and relatives can be polite and cordial to each other without going overboard, everyone can relax.
Make sure there is a support person present: Having someone at a family gathering who knows the past and the present situations of ex-spouses can help diffuse any tense moments. Be sure to talk with this person ahead of time, if possible, and keep them in close contact during the family gathering.
Be sensitive to ongoing family relationships: Divorce does not change the fact that children and spouses continue their relationships with grandparents, friends, and relatives who are innocent bystanders of the divorce. Being sensitive to these ongoing relationships can help ex-spouses avoid feelings of animosity and resentment.
Avoid drinking too many alcoholic beverages: Adult drinks and alcoholic beverages can help relax guests and make a celebration enjoyable. The problem with these drinks comes when guests overindulge. In a family gathering that includes divorced families, too much alcohol can lead to an embarrassing situation. Enjoy the party, but drink responsibly.
With a little preparation and pre-planning, family gatherings after a divorce can enrich the lives of the marital children and keep family traditions alive.