Separating from a spouse can be a difficult thing to talk about, especially if there are irreconcilable differences between both parties. Communication is a great tool to set fair considerations and voice out concerns. This post will give tips on effectively and peacefully discussing separation with your spouse.
Are you sure you want a separation?
If you are not quite sure whether or not you want a separation, it may be wise to consult a marriage or family therapist first before initiating that first conversation. They will help you figure out your thoughts and come to the right decision.
You should be aware that once you take that first step to separate, for example, when you tell your spouse that you want a separation, reconciliation becomes a significantly harder process. Therefore, you want to be sure about what you want before telling your partner that this is the next step you’d like to take.
How to talk about separation with your spouse
Before initiating the conversation with your spouse, you need to figure out what you will say and where you will have this discussion. Be calm and rational, and try to talk about things in a way that will result in the least amount of emotional damage to you, your spouse, and your kids.
Set the intention
It is only fair that you let your partner know that you intend to have a serious discussion with them about the state of your relationship. Let them know that you intend to discuss whether or not you should separate, and then give them time to prepare. You should both make a list of all the things you’d like to discuss to ensure that neither of you forgets anything important.
When you do have the talk, you can do it at home if that feels safe and comfortable for you. If you are worried that your spouse might have a bad reaction, you can ask them to join you in a meeting with your therapist.
Acknowledge your spouse’s resistance
Your spouse may not be ready to separate. They may have different approaches that they’d like you to try to solve the problems you have. Be prepared in case they come with counter-suggestions. If you are open to alternative solutions for fixing your marriage, remain open-minded. If you are set on wanting a separation, say so as well, and do not give mixed messages. Stand your ground and stick to the boundaries you set.
Understand that it may be difficult to remain together after the discussion, so you may have to organize an alternative place to stay. Your spouse cannot kick you out but You should make this decision ahead of time and decide whether you will be moving out or you will ask your partner to leave the home.
Set the tone of your discussion
As the person who initiated the discussion, it is up to you to set the tone. Your partner may be angry or frustrated, but maintain a tone of kindness. It is easier to match your partner’s angry or frustrated tone, but resist this urge and remain calm and kind. The tone you take will define your relationship after the separation.
Be fair and practical
No one can argue with practicality and fairness. Sticking to these qualities while speaking with kindness will ensure that both parties will leave the discussion feeling heard and respected. This will help you make the right decisions and promote trust between you.
Manage your expectations
Most people go into the discussion of separation with unrealistic expectations. A lot of us also make assumptions about what our boundaries are, and we expect the other party to respect those boundaries even though we have not discussed them.
If you are getting separated to see if your marriage can be fixed, discuss expectations on fidelity, communication, and how you will work on the marriage. Also, discuss how you will talk to and take care of the children.
If you are getting separated as you plan to divorce, discuss how you will fairly divide the assets, how custody will be handled, and how you can divorce amicably without involving the courts.
Throughout the discussion, agree on conditions and make arrangements to help both of you accomplish those conditions.
Give your spouse some time to process your decision
Your spouse will need some time to process your decision, so give it to them before telling your kids or initiating the discussion of logistics. When trying to figure out certain arrangements involving custody, money, or property, consider doing it in a mediation or collaborative process to ensure an equitable resolution.
If you are leaving a violent or abusive partner, make safety arrangements first
You will need to make a safety plan for yourself and your kids before initiating the conversation with your spouse. The first days after telling an abusive or violent spouse are the most dangerous because they feel like they have nothing left to lose. Talk with your lawyer about how to protect yourself. You may also need to get a restraining order or be moved to a safe house.
Separation is a difficult thing to talk about. How you approach telling your partner about it will set the tone for everything that follows, including the potential divorce as well as the ongoing relationship as co-parents and past partners.
Once you have talked about separation with your partner, the next step would be figuring out how to tell your family and friends as well as how to break the news to your children. Before doing so, you should both take some time to process what happened.
Once you are both on the same page, and one of you has left the home, consider decluttering and reorganizing the other person’s things to help you heal and also make it easier for them to move out completely if that is the next step.
We hope that the tips outlined here will help you figure out where to start as you embark on this new part of your relationship journey.