Going through a separation is a challenging time in a couple’s life, but it doesn’t have to be a nightmare. It may take years in a slowly deteriorating marriage before couples make the very difficult decision to separate.
There are many reasons individuals may choose to stay in an unhealthy marriage—the children, fear of being alone, guilt, a sense of obligation—but one of the biggest reasons is due to their financial situation.
More and more couples are forgoing staying in a marriage that no longer serves them simply because they can’t afford to separate. Instead, they are choosing to continue living in the same home while going through their separation. Of course, there are many other reasons couples remain living in the same home through their separation including, but not limited to, uncertainty, to save money, convenience, and easing into a scary transitional period of their lives.
If living separately seems impossible right now and you’re wondering “How do I separate from my spouse while living under the same roof?” The truth is, it’s entirely possible if you can both follow some simple guidelines.
It may not be easy, but ultimately, if you are wanting to separate from your spouse but need to live share a home for whatever reason—maybe it’s the only way you can afford it—it’s important to do what’s right for you, for your well-being, for your family, and for your happiness.
Happiness is after all a right you deserve. Thomas Jefferson said it best in The Declaration Of Independence “… unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
6 Tips for How to Separate From Your Spouse While Living in the Same House
1. Foster Healthy Communication During Your Separation
Separation and divorce is an arduous journey. Healthy communication really is the secret key for a healthy separation process while living in the same house.
It’s important to have open, healthy communication between you and your spouse throughout your separation, divorce, and beyond, so it’s a good idea to get your mind in the right place.
Communicating with an open mind and a positive attitude is a good place to start. Separation is a difficult period for both of you, it won’t make it any easier if couples are being rude, condescending, or passive-aggressive with each other while talking, so try to be mindful of your tone.
Be clear with what you’re trying to communicate. If communications are murky it’s easy for a spouse to get confused or for misunderstandings to occur. Be straight and to the point in simple terms.
Try and be a good listener. While your spouse is talking, try to really hear and understand where they’re coming from. Empathy is a powerful tool to utilize while going through a separation.
This process isn’t easy on either of you, so remember, this is the person you chose to marry, treating them with a certain amount of dignity will help them feel they are being heard and respected. You are both traveling the rocky road of separation together.
2. Talk to Your Children
If you have children together, one of the most heartbreaking aspects of separation can be worrying about how your children are going to deal with it.
Make a plan to tell your children together. Decide how you are going to tell them, where, and when, and then do it together, as a family. Plan what you are going to say and say it to them in age appropriate terms.
Be sure they understand that the separation isn’t anyone’s fault, especially theirs. Trying not to blame each other in front of your children is an exercise in emotional maturity that can test even the most patient parents.
Be clear with them about how their life will or won’t change. The fact that you will remain living in the same house while being separated may feel confusing to them. Give them time to absorb and cope with all this new information.
Give them the opportunity to ask questions and do your best to provide honest, age appropriate answers. Their resilience may surprise you.
3. Create a Plan to Divide Your Living Space
The first step to dividing your living space is to create separate personal spaces for the both of you. You’ll need to decide which one of you will be moving out of your bedroom. Each of you should have your own space to sleep and find a place to keep all of your clothes and other personal belongings that used to be housed together in your bedroom.
This helps keep boundaries clear and you won’t have to disturb each other every time you need a sweater or a clean pair of socks. You’ll also appreciate the fact that you both have a place to go that is private and away from each other.
Try to begin doing things separately; like eating and preparing meals separately, keeping your laundry separate, socializing separately etc.
4. Divide Family Duties and Obligations
Household chores may already be a point of contention in your relationship, so it’s a good idea to create a plan that divides family duties, chores, and obligations.
Do your children have standing monthly orthodontist appointments? Write down who will be taking them to those appointments. Create a chore chart if you have to. Sticking to a plan helps to avoid arguing and further conflict.
5. Speak With Integrity While Going Through Your Separation
Marriage separation tends to attract the opinion of those around you, and going through a separation while living in the same house—well, let’s just say it’s a good idea to quiet the noise of outside influences by not oversharing or speaking ill of your spouse.
Make a decision together with your spouse that you will speak with integrity about each other in front of your children, in conversations with family, friends, in your community, and on social media.
Separation and divorce are private issues and can become messy and complicated if either of you are hearing rumors of your spouse bad-mouthing you behind your back.
6. Begin the Separation and Property Settlement Agreement Process
If you and your spouse have decided to get divorced, it’s important to have a separation and property settlement agreement.
A Separation and Property Settlement Agreement covers the division of your assets and liabilities, alimony, child custody, and other aspects of your divorce.
Our experienced Virginia divorce lawyers can advise you and prepare a separation and property settlement agreement for you.
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