Separation can be a tough time for people – especially women who find themselves without the financial support that they had during partnership.
Let’s face it there is only so long that you can couch-surf, live at your parents or the Universe forbid – still live with your ex while he’s seeing another person.
This guide is going to cover the 8 Essential Tips when going through Painful Separation to help you not just survive – but thrive!
Good luck on your journey.
Tip 1: Be clear with your partner
If you have decided for separation, be clear with what you want. Be clear on what a separation means to you and why. This may be the first conversation you have about separation with your partner, and of course you are not physically ready for everything. For example, are you sleeping in the same bedroom from then on, how to share bills, how to manage around the house, does one of you move out, when to speak to children if any, should you try marriage counselling.
You will not have all the answers straight away, unless you’ve done your research before you have the initial conversation, but be sure you say these things. This will demonstrate your resolve and encourage you to engage in these really tough conversations, of which there will be several.
If these conversations are likely to leave you in an unsafe environment, seek help, seek advice and do not under any circumstance place yourself or your children in danger.
Tip 2: Stay respectful and classy during separation
Respectful and classy does not mean that you should not acknowledge your pain, your anger, your disappointment, your loss or any other emotion you are feeling. If you were in a toxic relationship, if your partner demeaned you in any way, whatever your partner did or said, whichever way your partner treated you or mistreated you: remember you are not your partner. Do not taint yourself with that behaviour, it’s not yours and you will be an emotionally healthier person by staying as neutral as possible. Aim to create a healthier environment around you, your children, family, friends and colleagues. In addition, your will be respected and gain more support through this behaviour.
From a logistical aspect, respond to questions, emails, letters etc. in a timely manner. Show up and keep appointments. Keep records of your interactions, conversations and always be neutral in your conversations. Your relationship as a couple may be over but you will have an ongoing relationship for some time to come, especially if you have children.
Tip 3: Let go of negative emotions
The intense emotions which accompany the break-up of a relationship through separation are overwhelming. Some of the emotions include loss, fear, anger, anxiety, frustration, pain, sadness, guilt, relief, relief. It is really like riding a roller-coaster, from one day feeling incredible sadness and a sense of loss to days when you are out of nowhere feeling like you could pretty much crush whatever is in your path out of anger or frustration.
What can also be worse is that you feel like you no longer know who you are, you’ve lost your identity and you feel worthless. These emotions and feelings come and go and you cannot control them.
And you shouldn’t.
Please speak to people in your network whom you can rely on for support. Such people should not be ‘dissing’ your former partner or pushing you into decisions. Your support person should be trustworthy, encouraging you to look forward, and most importantly, be there for a hug, a tissue or even for a bad joke to make you laugh.
Tip 4: Protect your money
If you have any accounts into joint names, for example bank accounts, mortgages, rent, credit/debit cards, car loans, leases on furniture or household goods etc. For those of you who own properties or other assets in joint names, think about separating them.
If you took out a loan in your name for your partner’s motorbike/car/boat, get it changed and deal with these asap. Find out whether leases for cars are in joint names and make sure you remove your name from the lease. There is nothing stopping your partner from taking that asset and leaving you with the debt. It happens more often than you think. Take control of that situation asap and make sure you do what is necessary to not own the former partner’s dept.
Redirect your salary or any income, or other payments into an account with your name only so that only you have access to your money. Change all your passwords on your computer, phone and other e-access.
Negotiate with your former partner on how best to divide assets and continue dividing assets so that you are not left holding a very empty bag.
Tip 5: Seek advice from a legal professional
The thought of talking to a lawyer for most people spells: fear, trouble, expensive, crook.
Lawyers are expensive yes. There is no doubt that you will have to pay something. Some lawyers will offer an initial free consultation, even if you do not end ep hiring them. The cost of seeking some simple and expert advice and obtain current legal fact is worth it. If you feel uncomfortable or overwhelmed by walking into a legal firm, many family lawyers will meet you for a coffee to consult with you. Please don’t allow your fear to control you on this point. Protect yourself and your assets by speaking to a family lawyer, even if you are not divorcing. The earlier the better.
Being informed = control.
This means do your homework, ask people you know, women who have separated or divorced or your support coach for a referral for a family lawyer. Whatever you do, do not come to any agreements with your partner until you have spoken to a legal specialist.
Do make sure you are managing your disputes a mediator, a lawyer. It will reduce angst and keep it ‘clean’. Of course, the lawyer will take care of the paperwork.
Tip 6: Put the children in the centre, not in the middle
One of the lawyers in my network always asks his clients “Do you love your children more than you hate your ex?” This is something that couples going through a split tend to forget. Whatever ages the child/children, do not underestimate the devastating effects a separation has on their mental health, their development cycle and their health.
As a parent, consider them as the fruit of your once love and ensure that your love is bigger than your hate. Make sure they hear this and they feel it through your actions. Keep them in the loop and don’t hide things from them, they already know!
Discuss how both parents will care and protect the children going forward and make sure the agreement is formalised in writing. Children will also have various emotions in the period of adjustment, talk through these and acknowledge that what they are going through is normal. Seek help if necessary. What you can do to keep the relationships for children as level as possible include: speaking respectfully about former partner avoiding arguments as much as possible, keeping children in the same school, to stay connected with their friends and family.
Tip 7: Wait to start a new relationship
Relationships are complex and after a break up you can feel alone, lonely and possibly need some physical or intimate contact. There is no right or wrong. Allowing yourself to heal is important, allowing your children (if any) to adjust to the new dynamics is positive way to move forward is important. This is not a case of morality, simply a matter of not adding complexities to your already complex situation and not confusing your feelings – the expression “on the rebound” comes to mind. If you seek only sexual relationships, avoid using your own home especially if you have children.
On a practical or legal perspective, a new relationship could impact spousal support, parenting arrangements and the new partner may be scrutinised to assess children’s well-being or safety.
Tip 8: Get a Counsellor, Doctor or Coach during separation
If I had a dollar for each time I hear a woman tell me, “Where were you when I was going through it?”, I would be very rich indeed! When all is said and done, the law can only go so far in separation. Looking after your personal, emotional, mental and physical well-being when going through a separation, is important. Planning your personal, financial and professional future is important for yourself and for your family.
There are different approaches and what support you may want to have, if at all, and this will be based on your needs at the time and what outcomes you’d like for the future. Traditional counselling, psychology sessions tend to look back and focus on events of the past. This, of course, has its place and is essential for the mental health and well-being of some people.
Others, may find it more beneficial to be forward looking by rebuilding their lives holistically. Some might want to look at ways to empower themselves, some may need to regain their self-esteem and confidence as a relation of the past relationship or loss of identity. Some might want to get a job, earn an income and stop being dependent on someone else, have their own cash in the bank, pay their mortgage or rent, enjoy life and especially make sure they have a decent pension in the future. In this particular case, you may seek out a coach, a mentor, a trainer. Who you choose will depend on your needs, your outcomes and of course, it’s all about the chemistry between you.
The separation journey will be hard and painful, it will take all that you’ve got and more, but you will rest easy in the long run.
If you would like someone to help you through this part of your life, we’re just a phone call away. Let us share the burden and help you on the path to a less stressful future.
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