You are thinking about separating
Separation solves some problems and causes others. Because separation causes so much upset and hurt, the first thing to do is to consider very honestly and carefully whether there is any chance of saving the relationship. Couple counselling or individual counselling can be invaluable here, and, even if separation still occurs, counselling is likely to make the process easier all round. For more information about counselling and names and addresses of counselling agencies, see Counselling and Support Section.
Remember that if you have children they will usually very much want you to stay together. This is not necessarily the best thing for them, but you must be sure enough of what you are doing to be able to cope with the children’s reaction.
Be very practical – think of the mundane day to day things that would have to be sorted out. You will realise that money coming into the house when you are together in one household will not go so far as between 2 households. Separation triggers major financial consequences. Think them through very realistically.
If your partner has a drink problem or is violent to you and will not go for help, or perhaps will not even acknowledge the fact, then it might be more urgent for you to get out of the relationship. It might also be helpful for you to have specialised support.
One thing you have to accept is that if you don’t like your partner’s behaviour, and your partner doesn’t think there is anything wrong with it, then you can’t make your partner change. You must either find some way of living with the situation, or leave the relationship. Living with a partner who for some reason is behaving badly to you can have a terrible effect on your self-confidence.
Try to make your decision while you still have enough energy to use for the future!
If you do decide to separate, you must not expect your partner or your children to accept your decision without some hurt or anger. However, once you have thought things through carefully and made your decision, don’t spend too much time in trying to justify your decision to other people – even your partner. Doing this usually involves underlining or exaggerating the faults of your partner, and only causes more bitterness. It is often better to be able to accept that you both embarked on the relationship with optimism and believed it would work. If you have now come to the conclusion the dynamic has changed, you can agree to disagree about the reason for that. If you have children they will cope much better if they don’t overhear arguments about where it went wrong.
If you have children, make it a priority to arrange matters so that the children suffer as little confusion and uncertainty as possible. For example, if you have become involved with someone else, be careful how you explain this to the children and how you make the introductions. If your partner has become involved with someone else, be just as careful how this is approached with the children.
Don’t rush it.
Bear in mind that no decision will be 100% right. Whatever decision you make will leave some problems to cope with. What you should do is work out which of the possible problems you would be most able to deal with.
If you decide to separate, and you are the main source of income, don’t offer more financially than you can realistically manage. Sometimes people do this because they feel bad about hurting their partner. They think such an offer will soften the blow.
Well – it might at that point. Then it will become obvious to you that the amount you are left with won’t keep you going. If you have to backtrack on the offer it will feel worse for your partner than if you had never made it. Equally, don’t leap to the opposite extreme.
If on the other hand, you are not the main earner don’t be so eager to get out of the relationship that you insist on giving up any possible claims you might have. Money claims on separation are generally about fair sharing and practicalities – not blame apportionment or assuaging feelings of guilt.
Remember that you have taken time to adjust to the prospect of a separation. You have probably gone through various stages including sadness and perhaps anger or anxiety. Your partner is about to be faced with the necessity of adjustment to huge changes, and not of choice and will have to go through those stages while trying to deal with practical problems.
It is important to disentangle the emotional aspect of a separation from the money aspect.