Humans are designed to cope with many onslaughts, but change continues to prove extremely challenging. How you manage the early days of separation or divorce has the potential to set the tone for the rest of the process.

When couples separate, they are often thrown into a period of uncertainty.

Identities are changing from couple to single, from mum and dad together as a family unit to mum with children and dad with children. Depending on the circumstances and who decides to leave the family home, there are many questions that arise during the early days of separation.

“Will we have to sell our home?”

“I haven’t worked since we had children – how will we manage financially?”

“What will our friends and family think?”

“How much will divorce cost?”

“Will I cope on my own?”

There seems to be so much to sort out both practically and emotionally and it comes at a time when at least one of you will be ‘all over the place’ emotionally due to the loss you are experiencing. This can make decision-making seem impossible. Who wants to agree the practicalities of legal issues and more importantly organise the children when they are devastated, angry and confused by loss? It can turn otherwise rational, clear-thinking mums and dads into what appears to be belligerent, stubborn, unreasonable people.

Take Your Time!

In those early days of separation or divorce, take your time if you can. Seek support from friends, family and professionals. Try not to make any big decisions too quickly.

Bear in mind that communication problems with your ex and all the pressures on family life you are now experiencing, like for many separating couples, will get better with time.

It’s important to recognise that you and your ex will more than likely be in very different emotional places at the moment; different stress levels and anxieties will be making communication difficult.

Taking the time to sometimes do nothing, to not react, give things a day or two, can prove very useful techniques.

What you have to remember is that if you have children, your ex is always going to be part of your life. That can be hard to take on board when you are feeling hurt and angry. If you can find a way to communicate with each other that focuses on the children, you will all benefit in the years to come.

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External Resources

Relate

Relate deliver a range of services that include relationship counselling, family counselling, mediation and children's counselling.

Fegans

Fegans is a charity offering flexible, solution-focused programmes that support, mentor and equip parents to manage their family life and relationships better.

advicenow

Guide for those thinking of getting a divorce.

Resolution

A guide aiming to give parents access to information and support that helps them throughout their parenting journey, through separation, divorce and beyond.

Family Lives

Guidance on looking after yourself in the early stages of a divorce or separation.