Financial constraints, the need to preserve your relationship with your children, the desire to stay in the family home and other factors can all force you and your spouse to stay together for a while, even after you’ve made the decision to seek a divorce.
How can you manage to make this work? You need a survival plan that will help you minimize conflicts between you and your soon-to-be ex and help you both mentally move forward even while you’re both physically stuck in place.
Here are some tips that can help:
- Establish a budget. If you and your spouse have always pooled your money, it’s time to stop. You need to negotiate a budget and rules about who will pay which living expenses during this time. You also need to be clear about what falls under personal expenses, not ordinary living expenses.
- Separate your space. If you’ve been sleeping in the same room as your spouse, it’s time to stop. One of you needs to set up space in a different room. You should also try to establish a routine that will keep you out of each other’s way and give you each maximum personal freedom.
- Respect shared areas. It’s time to treat the common areas like you would those in an apartment shared with casual acquaintances. Everyone needs to cook for themselves, clean up after themselves and do their own laundry (preferably at different times).
- Create some important boundaries. Communication is key to this process, but no rule says you have to communicate in person — especially when emotions are high and there’s tension in the air. Set some rules down and insist that all communication be done electronically.
- Remain respectful (and insist that your spouse do the same). You and your spouse are no longer a couple, but that doesn’t give either of you license to unload all your frustrations on the other. Keep your comments and tone respectful, and ask your spouse to do the same. If they refuse, cut off all communication until they comply.
Even if you’re in a holding pattern now, you should be planning your divorce strategy. It’s a good time to talk to an experienced attorney about your legal options.