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Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Advice for the Holidays


If you are a person who grew up attending church, there is a good chance you will have heard of the passage called, “The Golden Rule.”  And even if you didn’t, I suspect the paraphrased words will probably still be familiar to you:  

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.  

The actual references are found in Luke 6:31 and Matthew 7:12.  The Jewish rabbi Hillel said something very similar when asked to summarize the law, he instructed his disciples to not do to others the things they did not want done to them.  

Holidays are times when individuals caught in divorce or its aftermath could be well served to keep this little rule in mind.  Sometimes you hear individuals twist the passage into something like, “Do unto others BEFORE they can do unto you,” or. “Do unto others as THEY HAVE DONE unto you.”  

Sadly, these reflect the behavior many of us choose to use toward those we don’t get along with, including our ex-spouses.  

Far too often, ex-spouses choose to make plans for holidays such as Thanksgiving, Christmas, and even the birthdays of children, in ways that are in opposition to the Golden Rule, rather than in accordance with it.  Individuals sometimes refuse to cooperate to make it possible for their children to be with the other parent during holidays - disregarding any court ordered plans or prior verbal agreements they made with their ex-spouses.  

Other times, individuals choose to use the holidays as a way to demonstrate one upmanship by intentionally outdoing or overdoing in the gifts and attention they lavish on their children.  Some find ways to subtly undermine the plans and opportunities of their exes.   

Time and time again I have listened to stories regarding this topic.  It is all very sad.

If you have been on the receiving end of such actions by a vindictive or insensitive ex, then you know how painful and difficult such an experience can be.  

The temptation often is to respond in kind, and to find ways to pay back the ex for such shabby treatment by doing something that will create the same hardship for the ex to make that person know what it feels like.  

Others choose to pre-empt their ex-spouses by arranging holiday plans in a way that will be self-serving so that the plans are already locked down with the children and with no consideration of the other parent.  The result is that when the other parent starts to make plans, the planning process is quickly frustrated by the inflexibility of the ex.

But the Golden Rule is to treat others…even our exes…the way you want to be treated by them.  

Not the same way they treat you.  

Not before they treat you.  

Not even treating them by keeping to the letter of the court ordered arrangement.  


The idea is to treat them the way you WANT them to treat you. 

Whether they treat you that way or not is irrelevant. 

Do you want respect?  Treat your ex with respect, even if he/she ridicules you for it. 

Do you want some consideration?  Find ways to be considerate of your ex this holiday season, even if he/she takes extreme advantage of your kindness.  

Do you want plenty of time with your children?  Make sure your ex has plenty of time with them, even if he/she robs you of yours.  


Because this principle has nothing to do with how your ex behaves.  

Instead, it is about what kind of person you are, and what kind of person God wants you to become.  Your ex may never notice or appreciate all the little kindnesses and considerations you send his/her way.  It is most likely that your ex will not. 

But you are not really doing these things for them anyway.  You do them so that YOU can become a better person.  

You do them to please God.  

God notices every single time.  

God will honor you for your choice to live by this principle…even if your ex does not.

Isn't God’s approval what really matters anyway?

So make your celebration plans, taking into consideration how your choices affect others, and letting go of past hurts and resentments.  

Celebrate the upcoming holidays in ways that will make your Heavenly Father proud!

1 comment:

  1. Indeed, all of those are hinged in our own extents and capacities in order to accept the fall out. The whole enterprise comes right down to it, so might as well put that in mind when heading into divorce proceedings in court. Anyway, thanks for sharing that timely reminder! I wish you all the best!

    Sandra Walker @ Eric Risk