Ending a relationship is always hard and painful, whether you were married or not. Despite this pain, it is sometimes necessary to keep a separation as civil as possible. Perhaps you have children together, or own property that you will need to manage the sale of. Perhaps you have friends in common that you know will mean you still have to meet occasionally. Perhaps you would like to salvage a friendship, despite what went wrong in your romantic relationship. Here’s how to keep a separation as civil as you can and have a brighter future after divorce.
Don’t Get Personal
Filing legal separation is always going to be emotional, and it’s natural to feel incredibly hurt. If you want to keep things civil, then you have to be careful not to get personal. It’s rare for a separation to be entirely the fault of one person, so try to remember that your incompatibility is not all your ex-partner’s fault. Try not to blame each other, and get on with the practical parts of the split, like moving out, dividing property, or agreeing on custody agreements.
Pick Your Battles
When emotions are high, it’s easy to get caught up on small details, especially with custody agreements and dividing up property. Remember that it is unlikely that you will get everything you want, and you both will have to compromise. For that reason, don’t fight for everything, and focus your energies on the things that really matter to you. For example, if you really want to make sure that you get the wedding china that was a gift from your late grandmother, focus on that, and don’t get caught fighting over your record collection that you don’t actually listen to anyway.
Don’t Ask People To Choose Sides
If you have children together or have friends in common, then it is very important that you don’t put people into a position where they have to choose sides. This builds resentment between all parties involved and leads to hurt feelings all around.
For shared friends, ask for support, and be honest if you need them to do things like seeing you both separately for a time. Don’t badmouth your ex-partner to your mutual friends, and over time, sharing friends will get easier.
If you have children, remember that they love you both, and hearing you be cruel to or about each other will be very upsetting. Be honest about what is happening, but don’t use your child as a tool to hurt your ex-partner. This hurts children as well and could have the opposite effect to what you want.
Try not to feel hurt if people you expected to be in your camp still want to see your ex. Perhaps during your marriage, your husband became great friends with your brother, for example. Try to step aside and let those kind of friendships continue, as long as they’re respectful to your needs too.
Take Some Space
If your split is amicable, and you know you want to remain friends, it can be tempting to just try and carry on as if nothing happened. However, no matter how civil the split, you will need some time and space to go away and lick your wounds. Trying to be friends immediately can be confusing, upsetting, and lead to blurred lines in your relationship.
Agree not to see each other or contact each other about anything other than practical parts of the split for a while. With some space, you can heal, and then when you’re ready, work on developing a friendship.
Hire A Professional
It’s hard to make practical decisions when your feelings are hurt and you’re upset. It can help to bring in a professional, whether that’s a divorce lawyer or a mediator, who can help you come to an agreement about the division of assets, selling property, and custody, without you having to struggle on alone. An outside party, who is not emotionally involved, can see things objectively and can help you to reach a compromise that suits you both and saves any more heartbreak and hurt feelings.
If you’re struggling, a therapist can be a good professional to see too. They can help you to process your feelings about what’s happening and gives you a healthy place to vent without bringing friends or loved ones into the argument. Having someone to talk to during a big life change is invaluable, and you’ll feel better able to stay civil with the right tools to cope with a split.