The last few months during lockdown will have caused some couples, who have been having doubts about their relationship already, to readdress their entire lives together. Your forced time together may have contributed to heightened stresses in your home and brought questions to the forefront which you have been putting to the back of your mind for a long time. It may have reached the point that however devastating the idea of separation is, staying together is just not an option any more.
Working from home means you don’t have the usual time apart from one another, where you would return after a full day, ready to catch up with each other’s news, successes and frustrations of the day, what the kids have been up to etc. However, 2020 has given us a different way of living, your family may have been able to uniquely benefit from the unprecedented time together and cemented strong bonds. However, if the situation was already under strain, this time could have been detrimental to family life.
The usual hours away from one another gone so suddenly and being thrown together for 24/7 may have been a turning point for many couples, when your differences are highlighted with nowhere to hide or escape from them, this may have been the time to make that heart-breaking decision.
If so, worse still, how to tell the children?
The thought of their faces, depending on age of course, when the reality sets in, that one of you isn’t going to be living at home anymore? Or that you may all have to leave your home? Could this be the reason you’ve been putting it off for some time?
There’s no best time to break it to them but, if you’re sure this is going to happen, the start of the summer holidays may be a good time to plan and implement it. The summer holiday gives everybody the time to get used to what’s going to happen in future. If you’re certain, don’t wait until the new school year in September. Children have enough to cope with then; a new teacher, a new school possibly, getting used to school again after lockdown, going back and seeing their friends, this will be plenty for young minds to deal with, so give them chance to get used to the idea of your new way of living. You might not have physically separated yet, so it could seem really strange to your child, if mum and dad are still at home but living apart. Summer break allows you all to start coming to terms with your decision.
The most successful way of managing this family transition happens when a couple decide to invest in a family consultant, who can help them think about how to tell the children, who to tell before the children, what to say to different people, why it’s important to agree what you’re saying and stick to that, who to seek support for you as individuals and for your children.
A family consultant will help you think about who absolutely needs to know about the separation. People naturally take sides – particularly family members and friends, so it needs careful planning to ensure your family gets the best support, as you go through this transition. Plus, your child will need someone trusted and who they can confide in, someone they can talk to without holding anything back in case they make mummy or daddy upset. You will need to decide on a number of difficult things together over the next few weeks e.g. the arrangements you have with school, etc. It will help you to do this in good time. School will need to know about the changes in your family. They will be on hand to deal with any unusual responses your child would not usually show.
Practically, school will need separate email addresses for letters and separate contact numbers so very important to make sure you have the school’s contact details saved into your phone if you haven’t already. One parent usually has the role of dealing with communications with school, however, once you separate the dynamic changes and we need to put things in place which enables both parents have direct connections with school. Experience proves conflict can arise around this – a family consultant shows you how not to get stuck.
You have one shot at this.
Rather than try and end up misunderstanding each other, it’s safer to use a family consultant who can help navigate from what you want, to what you can achieve for your family. A family consultant understands your child’s developmental needs and where you each are, with respect to the end of your relationship. They have the skills to avert you from getting stuck and arguing with each other, which often leads a separating couple, to feel as if they’re banging their heads against a brick wall!
For example, your eleven-year old daughter starts a new school in September. She’s been to see it, she’s really excited and she knows a couple of people who are going there from her primary school. You tell her, mummy and daddy have decided not to live together. In the coming months at her new school, she won’t yet have built a warm relationship with any of the teachers. She may reach out to one of her friends who went with her from her primary school.
How well do you know that child and their parents? Is the child able to provide support? Or might it stress that child out? As parents you don’t need to worry about the above scenario if you’ve sought professional advice. You will have discussed the ins and outs of what you can set up for your child, who would be their go-to person etc, before they return to school.
The number of family consultants with experience to help a couple separate into a different sort of family unit are few and far between. We have the experience to work successfully with separating couples (on zoom/Skype) to enable more people to have access to this essential resource, which helps you move through your transition as painlessly as possible.
Adriana has helped couples stay together or divorce for more than 30 years, she has set up an award-winning service, Painless Divorce helping people prepare, for a changing family’s future. An Associate Fellow of the British Psychological Society and registered to work in the UK and throughout Europe, she has been an expert speaker for the BBC and was a lecturer at one of the top 25 universities in the world. She is an International conference speaker, published author and has helped tens of thousands of people over the years.
Separating together for a better life apart.
We’re available for remote consultations, for a confidential chat contact Adriana directly on +447980 667103.
Office 01625 786026 or email us [email protected] address.