You are in a long-term relationship, then bang – you separate.
Once happy and connected. Perhaps kids have arrived, financial pressures building, family demands mounting, maybe an imbalance at home and child-rearing duties. You start to think, is this my life? Am I happy and fulfilled? What am I doing? The reality of separation arrives.
Separation becomes more of a reality in your mind. But before you take that giant step, there are a few things to consider. While we think we know what being a solo parent will be like – do you?
- Have you both attempted couple counselling with an experienced family counselor. How long did you attend, did you both follow the strategies put in place, and made adjustments to fit your lifestyle?
- What are future birthdays, sporting events, Christmas, and school holidays going to be like? Have you thought of going away with the kids on a holiday or camping perhaps alone, with only them?
- What else may you lose, half your friends, the other family, connections, financial sharing.
- Do you want to start the dating game all over again from the start? How will the kids do with this? Will they accept or cause anxiety for you? As we know, many second relationships break down, not because the couple is not suited, but because of the angst the kids cause between the couple?
- Will you become a ‘step’ parent to someone else’s kids? It can be very different from your expectations, especially if you don’t like the kids or how they have been parented.
- How will finances be divided? Can you afford your mortgage or rent on a single income?
- Conflict is often created in separation, especially when financial division is regularly escalated into a battle. Don’t think it won’t, it normally always does.
- Can there be agreement on parenting structure, division of time spent with the kids, grandparent inclusion in looking after the kids?
- What about a new partner entering the equation? What if the kids love this new ‘mum or dad’ and can’t wait to get over there to spend time with them, whereas you set the rules and boundaries at home, but they are just fun to be with.
- Sitting alone each night without talking things over with that person who knew you so well.
This all sounds awful, but it is all the reality of separation. I am not saying to stay with someone you no longer love or care about. Certainly, leave if there is abuse or violence, in fact, run if you can. Those leaving abusive relationships want all this solitude away from the abuse, to feel safe. Recovering from that relationship can also be made easier.
Before you leave
Anyone contemplating separation due to not feeling happy or fulfilled should exhaust every avenue. Make changes, consider what you and your partner feel, what each of you may want. Where possible, consider making some adjustments. Get to couples counselling. As many smart people do, they have one or two regular counselling sessions every year, even when things seem to be moving along ok. Get in touch with a local therapist or jump online for a zoom session with me if not local. Invest in yourself, your family, your relationship, and your life. Once you have both tried your best you can hopefully make a joint decision to part. This joint decision certainly makes the transition smoother, friendlier, and far less complex.
Those couples I have worked with before they decided to call it have thrived being a solo parent. They have avoided conflict and anger. They have been accepting and supportive of each other with a degree of regret they were just no perhaps meant to be a couple. This makes our future easier and happier in itself.
Read more from LifestyleDr Karen Phillip