A separation from your spouse or partner does not have to mean the end of the relationship; instead, it may be a good time to assess and determine your needs. Whether you eventually decide to end the relationship or find ways to strengthen your bonds, the best way to survive a separation is to take the time to think through practical decisions. Develop a good working relationship with your partner and learn to be compassionate to yourself. Meanwhile, taking control of your home will help you feel more like yourself.
Method 1 Making Practical Decisions About Your Separation
1. Make a note of your divorce date. The separation date is the legal date on which you and your spouse or partner decide to end your relationship. It does not imply that you have abandoned the apartment or home you share; these details can be worked out.
If the separation is not mutual, the separation date is the date you informed your partner of your decision to separate and that you no longer consider yourself to be in a relationship.
If you decide to divorce, you must first be legally separated for a certain amount of time (usually 3-6 months, but sometimes as long as a year) before the divorce process can begin.
2. Decide who will leave. This can be a difficult decision to make, and you should think about a number of factors. If you have children, you must consider where they will live, as well as their educational and childcare requirements. Other considerations include your financial ability to pay for separate housing, your health and work situation, and the emotional stress of continuing to live in the home you once shared.
It is possible to be legally separated while still living in the same house. This may be more emotionally draining, but it may be worth considering if moving out is financially impossible.
If you have children, you should consider their needs when looking for a separate apartment during the separation if you want them to spend time with you.
Don’t forget about the animals. Who will take care of any cats, dogs, or other pets if one of you moves out?
3. Work out the childcare details. If you have children together, you should make a plan for childcare before beginning the separation. You and your partner should reach an agreement on what to tell your children about your separation.
Be very clear with one another about creating a schedule for who will care for your children and what your childcare expectations are.
You must be as specific as possible when it comes to financial planning for your children’s needs. For example, who will pay for school supplies, clothing, and other necessities? Make sure you and your partner are on the same page about these issues for the sake of your children.
4. Make financial decisions for the group. If you and your spouse have joint checking accounts, you must agree on whether you should continue to share these accounts during your divorce. If you decide to keep the accounts, you must agree on how your joint funds will be spent.
For example, you may decide that your shared accounts will be used for childcare, rent, and mortgages, while a new independent checking account will be used for your personal expenses during the divorce.
To provide additional protection, you may want to consider requiring both your signature and your friend’s signature for any expenditure drawn from your shared account.
Alternatively, you may choose to divide any currently shared financial assets.
These may be difficult conversations to have, but discussing them will help to avoid misunderstandings. Consider consulting with a financial counsellor or a mediator if you need assistance making these decisions.
5. Consider what you will tell your friends and family. You should decide together what information to share about your separation with mutual friends, family, and acquaintances. Furthermore, you should decide when to tell them together. Before you share the information with others, talk to your children first.
You and your partner should agree on what information about your separation should be shared on social media.
Discuss how to best handle mutual friendships as well as family members or in-laws during the separation.
6. Determine the terms of your divorce. What are your expectations for the divorce? For example, do you intend to be apart for a certain number of months while you try to work things out? Do you intend to go to couples counselling during your separation? If this is the case, make it clear.
One of the decisions you’ll have to make is whether or not each of you will be able to date other people while you’re separated. It is recommended that you agree not to date anyone else during this time. You may want to reconsider this decision after a certain amount of time has passed.
During your separation, you may decide to have weekly date nights with each other. These dates can help you and your partner renew your relationship in ways that you couldn’t when you shared a home.
Method 2 Practicing Self-Compassion
1. Recognize that it is normal to have conflicting emotions. You may experience sadness, depression, anxiety, elation, and guilt all in the same afternoon. These emotions may be intense and unpleasant, but they are all a normal part of the sadness that follows a separation.
Remember that there is no right or wrong way to feel during a divorce.
It can be helpful to remember that these difficult feelings will pass.
2. Allow yourself some time to recover. Recognize that surviving a separation is difficult, regardless of how necessary the separation is. If this is a long-term relationship, the two of you will have centred your lives on one another. Don’t feel obligated to rush through the healing process.
Everyone heals at his or her own pace. There is no set time frame by which you should be “better” or “fixed.”
At any point during the healing process, speaking with a counsellor or professional may be beneficial.
3. Allow yourself to experience sadness. Sadness is a normal part of the grieving process, but it is not the same as clinical depression. Allowing yourself to cry when necessary and talking about your feelings with trusted people will assist you in getting through the separation.
During the early stages of a separation, you may feel temporarily immobilised, as if stunned, by sadness. Trust that this will pass in due course.
Feelings such as resentment, anger, and blame will quickly deplete your energy and attention. Rather than trying to suppress these feelings, acknowledge their presence and recognise that they are usually a form of fear.
Keep an eye out for clinical signs of depression, such as inability to leave bed, crying for long periods of the day, sleeping excessively or insufficiently, and no improvement in your mood after several weeks. Speak with a professional or a counsellor if you believe you are becoming depressed.
4. Spend time with reliable friends. If you can, talk to them about what you’re going through. Talking with others can make you feel better, and once you’ve shared your experience, you’re likely to feel less alone. You may discover that others have had similar experiences, and you can learn from their trials and tribulations.
While talking with your friends is important, try to avoid becoming “stuck” in patterns of sadness in which you talk about your unhappiness all the time. If you find yourself in this situation, speaking with a counsellor or a professional may be beneficial.
Spending time with a friend does not always imply talking. You will most likely feel better after engaging in any activity with someone you trust.
Taking a walk with a friend or watching a movie can help you feel more confident in yourself, regardless of whether you’re having an intense conversation.
5. For the time being, avoid dating. Getting involved with the attractive man down the hall may appear to be a good way to cheer yourself up, but it is likely to make your pain worse. Spending time with friends you know and trust is a more effective way to practise self-compassion.
If you have children, keep in mind that re-marriage can be just as upsetting in their lives as divorce.
Finding yourself in the arms of another person does not rule out the possibility of rekindling your relationship with your separated partner, but it does not make it any easier.
Method 3 Maintaining a Working Relationship With Each Other
1. Keep your children out of any conversations you have with your partner. Unless your children are adults, you don’t want them to have to help you process your complicated feelings about your partner’s separation. Instead, share developmentally appropriate information. It’s fine to be honest, but don’t make your children feel responsible for your well-being.
Never force a child to “take sides” with you against the other parent.
Encourage your child to discuss his feelings about your separation with you, or with a counsellor or professional.
2. Make a set of mutual guidelines for interacting. It may be difficult, but if you have children together, you will need to establish a basic framework for your expectations in your new situation. The clearer you are, the more likely it is that the framework will do what you need it to do.
This may appear artificial at first, but it can help you communicate more clearly during this difficult time.
Setting regular times to talk together, with clear topics and time limits, for example, will help establish parameters for your meetings, making them less likely to devolve into repeats of old conversations.
It is a good idea to agree not to speak negatively about each other in front of your children.
If necessary, seek the assistance of a relationship counsellor in developing a framework for interaction.
3. Maintain consistency and dependability. Stick to your communication guidelines if you’ve established them. For example, if you say you’ll meet your separated spouse for coffee, show up at the time you said you would. If you have children, this is especially important because they will be concerned and perplexed by the changes in their lives.
If you want to work on saving your marriage, you must first demonstrate to your spouse that he is a priority in your life.
If you make a mistake or fail to follow the guidelines you created together, admit it right away. After all, we’re all only human, and mistakes are bound to happen.
Method 4 Taking Charge of Your Home
1. Clean your entire home from top to bottom. If you’re the only one left in the apartment after a divorce, cleaning it up will make you feel better. Nothing is worse than discovering traces of your absent roommate in your apartment months after he’s left. Cleaning your house, both literally and metaphorically, will assist you in regaining your sense of self.
If you’re in a new place, nothing beats a thorough cleaning to make it feel more like home.
Choose new cleaning products with scents that do not remind you of your roommate.
2. Rearrange your furnishings. Move your furniture around to give your old things a new look, especially your bedroom furniture. You can even transfer items from one room to another or change the functions of your room.
For instance, try moving your bed to the opposite side of the room or beneath the window.
Try putting a loveseat in your bedroom or bringing a painting from the living room into the kitchen.
3. Purchase new linens. New sheets, pillows, and towels are the epitome of a fresh start. Choose the type that feels the most luxurious against your skin and a colour you adore. This is an excellent time to indulge yourself and practise self-care.
Try sleeping with a body-size pillow next to you in bed.
If you like staying up late in bed, get a large reading and backrest pillow (also known as a “husband pillow”).
4. Refresh the look of your rooms by repainting them. Nothing makes an old room feel newer than a fresh coat of paint. Choose colours that make you happy and joyful, whether they are neutrals such as slate grey and beige or vibrant tangerines and lime.
You are not required to paint the entire apartment at once. Begin with the bedroom or kitchen and work your way up.
Invite some friends over to assist you with the painting. They’ll be happy to assist, and you’ll appreciate their company and support.
5. Consider getting rid of items that bring back painful memories. You might want to remove photos of the two of you from happier times and replace them with photos of yourself as a child and with your closest friends. Place them in a box and place it in the attic or basement for safekeeping.
If you can work things out, your belongings can be returned to their original locations. You could also decide to start over with each other.
You may discover that a more straightforward appearance is best suited to your new life.
6. Change out your sex toys. Nothing is more heartbreaking than discovering your special box full of items that remind you of fun times you may never have with your mate again. The first step will be to remove the old ones from the house.
You might not be ready for new ones right away, but order some catalogues or browse some websites.
You might find yourself spending time alone with your new toys.
7. Decorate with trinkets and tchotchkes from your collection. If he used to make you keep things in the closet, now is the time to bring them back out. You’re likely to come across items that allow you to reconnect with the self you were before the relationship.
Making these changes will help you feel stronger and more empowered to survive your separation, regardless of what you bring into your home.
Adding curtains, changing light fixtures, and making other minor changes can make a significant difference in how your home appears and feels to you.
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