If you’ve followed this blog for any length of time then you will know that here at LKW Family Mediation we are not a fan of media divorce myths and the so called “divorce day” is no different. The statistics simply do not bear out the idea that there is a deluge of divorce petitions in January. For those that do make the decision to separate in January it does a disservice to this difficult decision to write frivolous articles suggesting one challenging Christmas meant that was it. From our experience we know that the decision to separate is one that is not made lightly and it is often the cumulation of not having felt unhappy in a relationship, for months, or even years. There can be events that trigger a separation but often there were difficulties that existed before this event and this was simply the last straw.
In a new series of blogs we’re going to be looking at making that decision to separate and breaking it down. In this first blog we’ll be looking at the decision itself and things you might do before you make the decision to separate. This can be helpful if you’re not sure whether it is the end of the relationship or not. Sometimes people want to know if they’ve exhausted all the avenues.
We’ll then be looking at how to communicate your decision to both your partner, and later on your children. We’ll also be looking at the first steps to take once the decision has been made.
In this first blog we will look at making the decision and deciding whether it really is the end. If you’ve felt unhappy for sometime then it can help to pinpoint exactly what it is that makes you unhappy. Often there can be a mass of things that are causing you to feel unhappy or unfulfilled and pinpointing the reasons can help you understand whether it’s purely difficulties in your relationship that are making you feel this way. Perhaps you have felt unsupported for some time? Or maybe there are things you would like to do that you don’t feel able to because of your current situation? Maybe you and your partner are simply leading separate lives and you feel there is no common ground or shared interests for you both any more? Perhaps you feel completely disconnected from each other?
Once you have given some thought to the root causes of your unhappiness or discontent then consider the following:
- Have you properly communicated how you feel to your partner? You might think you’ve had conversations but so often clients in mediation tell us that they tried to talk to their partner but the other partner didn’t take it seriously and just thought it was a minor blip due to life events, or it being winter, or for some other reason. By the time the other partner realises their partner is really unhappy and takes steps to address this a decision has been made that separation is now the only option. Be as clear as you can about how unhappy you are, what the reasons are for this, and what you think would improve the situation?
- It can help to be clear with each other about what steps are needed and the timescale that you will allow a period to improve things. Saying you need more support with day to day chores and agreeing your partner will hoover every Saturday, wash up every other day and do two school drops and that you will commit to this for 3 months and see how things are gives you both a clear framework. Perhaps your partner has things they would like you to do to make them feel happier? These may be more abstract ideas such as listening more, or showing your affection.
- If you feel that things are really bad and you’re struggling to resolve things yourselves then why not consider seeing a counsellor who specialises in relationships? They will be able to help you unpick what’s going wrong and take steps to change things. If you both still want to make things work then getting professional help can be the assistance you both need. It can be tricky to ask people for recommendations but if you know a friend has used someone good then ask. Alternatively please feel free to get in touch with us has we hold details of relationship counsellors who may be able to help you.
- Make time for your relationship! If you feel like you’re always working or busy with children then make a date to spend time with each other away from the other pressures. Put your phones away and talk to each other or just hang out together and try to reconnect.
If you do decide to make the decision to separate then you can get free resources to help you manage this process as constructively and peacefully as possible into your inbox every fortnight via our free mailing list. We also have a free online group where you can get support from others going through a separation, and from professionals like us.