life after separation: 10 tips on what (and what not) to do
1. Don’t rush to get a lawyer
It can feel like an important reaction to say “now I’m going to see if I can get not only my half but most of his/her half as well” and seek the help of an expensive lawyer. but consider two alternatives: couple therapy in the context of separation, creating a more amicable post separation relationship (if you have children go straight to point 8) and/or a lawyer who belongs to and promotes a non-confrontational approach to family problems- see http://www.resolution.org.uk/
2. Think about the practical things you can do
You might could get new covers for the sofas, throw out a lot of stuff that reminds you of your ex, start a new food regime paint the walls (it’s better than crawling the walls); all very practical things which can help you feel as if you are regaining control and staying in charge of your life.
3. Take time out
The feelings, moods and stresses post separation can be overwhelming. Take some time out, relax as much as you can and try to put your problems to one side for a while; you can always pick them up later.
4. Expect to feel sad-even if you initiated the breakup
A relationship breakup creates sadness on both sides; you will both experience what is known as the loss cycle, where you go through periods of anger and low mood. It can’t be helped, and going through it can be painful, but it is often necessary to help you process, and resolve your post separation feelings and thoughts, working towards accepting the situation as it is.
5. Don’t rush into dating again: learn to live with you
It can feel like you have found your freedom; you might feel a new surge of life, but beware of swapping one head for another in bed; you might need to reflect on what your contribution to the breakup was; even if you are the “left alone one” relationships take two to tango. See a therapist and work through the years of your relationship, which should help you move on in a clearer way.
6. If you had an affair don’t be surprised to see it fizzle out
It’s not widely known, but often the reason people have affairs is not to get into a new relationship but to get out of the old one, and you can spend all your time whilst in an affair having covert sex, leading an emotional roller coaster of a relationship and putting down respective partners. When all that’s done at separation, what remains? Make sure your dislike for your partner or your need to get out of this relationship is not your single mission. This is also true if you are the “left alone one” –try not to let your feelings of hurt harden into habitual thoughts and feelings.
7. Be a good parent
Children still need boundaries (so might you) and will still look up to you. Be there for them and get help from others. But don’t turn your children into your friends; you will both be disappointed when its time to move on from this. See 8
8. Don’t screw up your kids
Look, we all know that he/she is the worst person in the world. But never ever, ever, say this to your children. Forcing your children to take sides or turning them into your emotional confidant will create in them a deep and enduring psychological bind: quite simply they will want to be part of both parents lives (and bring you back together again; watch for them trying strategies around this) –if you don’t quickly develop a businesslike relationship it can scar them, and, ironically it will probably end up with them turning against you in later life. Bad karma, I guess.
9. Areas to get sorted
In separation and divorce there are four areas you need to sort out: the legal, the financial, the parental and the emotional. It will be very difficult to sort out the first 3 when the last is unresolved. It might well be worth your while taking on individual counselling to process and prioritise, not to say discharge, you separation feelings and thoughts.
10. Expect it to get better
I forget who once said “in divorce the first year is hell; the second year is worse”. The point is, it does take time, but it will get better. You can heal; you can go onto lead successful and rich relationships. But it does take time, and you might need help-which is not a sign of weakness, but the signature of being human.