Separating from your marriage mate is difficult to deal with on many different levels. Surviving a separation seems like an impossible task when you are in the middle of parting ways. While this doesn’t always mean you are headed for divorce, it does mean you will need to take practical steps to protect yourself emotionally and financially moving forward. It is also an excellent time for you both to figure out what you need from your relationship in order for it to move forward.
Don’t be caught like a deer in the headlights during your separation. Take practical steps, exercising patience and compassion. Use a business-like attitude in order to make good decisions moving forward. Here is how to survive a separation.
Why it’s hard
Separating is a difficult, but necessary step to take to move forward with your life. There are legal notes and paperwork to file, and a rollercoaster of emotions to sift through. There are many avenues of pain that you will weave in and out of during your separation.
- Used to seeing that person: Whether you were married for three years or 30, you got used to a certain way of life. You got used to seeing your marriage mate every day and living with the comfort that you were not alone, even if you weren’t always happy.
- You didn’t want the relationship to end: Another reason why your separation may be heart wrenchingly difficult is because you didn’t want the relationship to end. The rejection you feel mixed with the trauma of seeing your partner move out and potentially move on can be crippling.
- You have children together: A separation can be devastating for children. Uprooting their stable lives and shifting them back and forth between both parents, as well as trying to agree on a schedule with your ex is frustrating and upsetting on most counts.
How to survive a separation
With all the anger, sadness, and confusion swirling around, how can you survive your separation? It’s difficult but entirely possible to get through it smiling in the end. Here are some basic steps to take to get through your separation in one piece.
1. Take care of yourself
This may seem obvious, but with the onslaught of emotions you will be feeling, sometimes even the simplest actions can seem difficult. Take a breath. Make sure you are fulfilling your basic needs every day. Drink plenty of water, eat three meals a day, get some sleep, go to work, and take care of your responsibilities. The better you feel, the more you will be able to do. Creating a routine of self-care will keep you feeling healthy and clear-headed.
2. Be civil
One step you can take during your separation is to be civil to your ex-partner. This will be difficult, but by humbling yourself to be civil, respectful, and kind, you will be able to let go of your resentment and anger. It also sets a fine example for any children you might have together.
3. Take it slow
You may want to move on as quickly as humanly possible, but that’s not always an option when you are in the middle of a separation. There is a process you must go through and only you can decide when you are done. So take comfort in this: There is no rulebook for surviving a separation. There is no set time by which you should feel better. Take it slow and let yourself grieve your relationship, be single, and learn who you are again.
4. Don’t rebound
A rebound seems like a great idea, at the time, but it may just end up hurting more people in the long-run. Your rebound has genuine feelings for you, while you are simply looking to fill an empty space. You may unfairly take your anger about your separation out on your new partner. A rebound partner may also confuse your children if they are very young. Wait until you feel genuinely ready for a relationship before pursuing one.
5. The legal side
Unfortunately, if your separation is leading down the road of divorce, you will need to start keeping records for your lawyer. This means finding an attorney, keeping financial records, protecting your assets, and discussing where your children will go. These are frustrating but essential steps to take to protect yourself legally moving forward. You may even need to file for legal separation before you divorce.
6. Make a plan for your children
Discuss with your ex before your separation how you will care for your children. Learn how to co-parent so that your children will know you are still mom and dad, instead of two separate entities of authority. Decide a strict routine for your children so that their lives don’t feel so dishevelled. Make sure you both spend equal amounts of time with each of your children. Keep a solid schedule with one another and never use your children as pawns or bargaining chips.
7. Look toward something positive
It’s only natural to wallow for a little while after a separation, but you can’t stay depressed forever. Make plans for the future and give yourself something to look forward to. A happy thought. Take up a new hobby, start working out, plan a trip with friends or family, or start training to do the job you have always dreamed of doing. Keep busy and make positive plans for the future.
8. Utilize your support system
Whether this means family, close friends, or a therapist, it is important that you have an outlet for everything you are going through right now. Separating from a long-term partner brings forth a myriad of changes, some positive and some terrifying. Now is the time to gather those who know the best ways to keep you positive during this transitional time.
Learning how to survive a separation can be difficult, but it is not impossible. Take positive steps toward your new future and take comfort in your close friends and family in this trying time.