Sometimes, no matter how hard you try, it seems like your marriage is doomed. Perhaps you’ve already tried talking it out. Maybe you’ve tried couples counseling or individual therapy. Sometimes you simply can’t see eye to eye on anything, any more. When you reach that stage, a separation can be a final attempt to figure out if your marriage is fixable before deciding to end it.
Separation is an emotionally fraught time. You might feel you’re in limbo, unsure whether your marriage can be saved or not. There’s also the question of whether your spouse will even want to save it. And then there are practical considerations to take care of.
Dealing with the practical side of separation as early as you can will leave you more mental and emotional space to process your feelings and needs. Smooth the road as much as possible with these practical tips for separating from your spouse.
Decide where you’ll live
Most couples find that living together during a separation is absolutely not practical – and it’s easy to see why. A separation is your chance to work out what you need from your marriage, and for your life overall, and you can’t do that while you’re living in the same place.
You need to figure out where you’ll live after you separate. Are you financially solvent enough to rent your own place? Will you stay with friends for a while or consider sharing an apartment? Get your living situation sorted before you instigate the separation.
Get your finances in order
If you’re married, the chances are some of your finances will be entangled. If you’ve got a joint bank account, a joint lease or mortgage, investments or any other shared assets, you need a plan for what to do with them once the separation begins.
At the very least, you’ll need your own separate bank account, and to be sure your wages get paid into that account. You’ll also want to check that you don’t get landed with hefty shared bills.
Straighten your finances out before you separate – it will save you a lot of hassle when the time to part comes.
Think about your possessions
You’re going to have a lot of shared possessions – what will happen to them? Start with bigger items such a car, if it’s in both your names, and furniture. You’ll need to know who is entitled to what, and who will keep what.
If you’re going to be living apart, dealing with division of your possessions is a must. Start thinking about what you absolutely must keep, and what you’re happy to give up or buy another version of.
Be really honest with yourself about the possessions you really can’t live without. Separation is a taxing time and it’s easy to get caught up in battles over even small possessions. Stop the fights before they even start by being honest about what you really need, and letting go of the things that don’t really matter.
Look through bills and utilities
Bills and utilities are usually automated, and not on your mind. If you’re planning to separate, however, you need to give them some thought.
Go through all your household bills – electricity, water, internet, phone, even online subscriptions. How much are they? Who currently pays them? Do they get paid from a joint account? Figure out who will be responsible for what once your separation period begins.
Most bills are, of course, attached to the home you live in. Be mindful of that so you don’t end up responsible for bills attached to a house you’re not currently living in.
Be clear about your expectations
You both need to go into your separation with a clear head. That means getting some real clarity around why you’re separating and what you expect from it.
Separations can take a while and shouldn’t be rushed, but a rough time frame will help you know what to expect.
Think about how you’ll interact during the separation. Will you still see each other, or would you rather stay apart for the whole time? If you have children, you’ll need to consider where and with whom they will live, and visitation rights for the other party.
Build your support network
Separation is difficult, and a good support network around you makes all the difference. Let your closest confidants know what’s going on, and give them the head’s up that you might need a little more support during this time. Know who you can talk to, and don’t be afraid to reach out and as for a little help.
You might also consider seeing a therapist either individually or as a couple, to help you navigate the fraught and changing emotions of a separation.
Separating from your spouse is a challenge. Take care of the practical aspects as quickly as you can to make it easier on yourself and give yourself the space you need to move forward.