When you get to the point in your marriage where a separation is what's next for you there are so many things to take into consideration to help you prepare emotionally and practically for how to proceed.
Embarking on a marital separation requires you deal with a lot of practical details so you have a roadmap of what to expect. Here are some important ways to prepare in advance so your separation goes as smoothly as possible.
Finances: Laying the Foundation for Financial Stability
Financial preparedness is crucial when embarking on a marital separation. Take these steps to ensure a stable financial foundation:
Assess your assets and liabilities. Create a comprehensive list of all joint and individual assets, debts, bank accounts, investments, and insurance policies. Check out the What To Gather worksheet and List Your Assets log to help you get started on the process.
Establish an emergency fund: Having an emergency fund can provide a safety net during the separation process. Aim to save three to six months' worth of living expenses.
Get on top of what it currently costs to live your life so you can anticipate how that will change during a separation. This monthly budget calculator walks you through every possible expense to consider so you take your next steps with clarity.
"The Talk" Initiating the Conversation: Open and Honest Communication
Approaching the topic of separation with your spouse can be daunting. These 17 Steps To Take Before A Marital Separation will make the process a lot easier:
Choose an appropriate time and place: Opt for a quiet, neutral environment where you both feel comfortable expressing your thoughts and emotions.
Use "I" statements: Focus on expressing your own feelings and experiences rather than pointing blame. For example, say, "I feel that we have grown apart," instead of, "You don't make me happy anymore."
Make time to practice what you're going to say in advance. That will help you feel more prepared and centered.
Recognize that your spouse may have differing perspectives and emotions. Be prepared for a range of reactions, from acceptance to resistance.
Seek professional guidance: Consider involving a couples' therapist or mediator to facilitate constructive communication and help both parties express their needs effectively.
Preparing Children: Nurturing Their Emotional Well-being
Children are deeply affected by marital separation. It's crucial to provide them with reassurance, understanding, and a supportive environment during this transition:
Plan the conversation: Prepare age-appropriate explanations and assure your children that the separation is not their fault. Emphasize that both parents will continue to love and support them.
Figure out when the kids will see each parent: Being able to tell your child what to expect moving forward will go a long way to helping them feel taken care of during this change. They will want to know when they'll each parent. Check out this post on Very Well Family about a few different custody schedule options, and this one about How To Plan A Parenting Schedule That Works For Everyone.
Maintain consistent routines: Consistency and stability can help children feel secure during uncertain times. Maintain regular schedules for school, extracurricular activities, etc.
Encourage open dialogue: Create a safe space for children to express their emotions. Validate their feelings and offer age-appropriate explanations about the changes they may experience.
Seek professional support: If needed, consider involving a child therapist to provide additional support and guidance for your children's emotional well-being.
Seeking Support: Building a Strong Network
During a marital separation, relying on a support system is vital. Here are ways to cultivate a network of emotional and practical support:
Lean on family and friends: Reach out to trusted loved ones who can provide emotional support, a listening ear, and a sense of normalcy during this challenging time.
Join support groups: Engage with local or online support groups where you can connect with individuals experiencing similar challenges. These communities can offer guidance, empathy, and encouragement.
Consider professional counseling: Individual therapy can help you navigate the emotional complexities of separation, providing a confidential space to process your feelings, gain insights, and develop coping strategies
One Last Thought...
Get It In Writing: Make sure to have a written agreement about the details and expectations of the separation
Having a piece of paper or email between you and your spouse outlining the details of your separation is so important! Make sure to have all the of your separation details in writing so there's no confusion moving forward.
Things to include would be: Maybe this is something you're going to try for a specific period of time (3 months, 6 months, 9 months, etc), get detailed about how finances will be handled moving forward (who is paying what bills, how will joint accounts be handled during a separation, etc.) -- no details is too small!