Making a decision to separate or divorce has a major impact on your life, whether the decision is mutual or not. The ritual of marriage is a significant milestone in life and to undo or reverse this is similarly significant.
In a time of relationship crisis, separation and divorce might seem the only solution. Having said that, it is important to keep the whole picture, including all the different people affected, in mind.
There are always pro and cons with every decision. Here are some of the advantages of separating:
Being or becoming happier: Living in a relationship that has passed its due date can significantly influence your state. It may be for the best to live apart and as a consequence you might feel happier and livelier again.
Finding a more suitable partner: When you met your current spouse they might have been the right person to develop a relationship with and eventually marry, however, this might no longer be the case. We all change and time moves on – and so do people. Divorce can allow you to spend the rest of your life, or your next life cycle, with someone more suited to who you are now.
Shared child-care: If you have agreed shared custody you will have ‘children-free time’ which allows you to take weekends away or nights out with adult friends.
Time alone: You will have significantly more time alone, which can be both an advantage and a disadvantage.
Living more authentically: If you have outgrown your relationship you might be more true to your current authentic self by deciding to go your own way and split.
Thinking about a divorce usually gets you easily thinking about the advantages of separation. It is important to also include the disadvantages to make an informed decision.
Reduced/increased time with children: You will no longer have your children with you the whole time or you might have your children at all times, with little or no support of your partner. If you have shared custody, you will see them regularly but it will never be as before when you woke up with them in the house every day.
Having to make new friends: As a couple you will have shared friends, other couples and other families with children. Often after a divorce, some or even many of those friends will be more friends of either you or your former partner. One of the challenges will specifically be to make new single friends for the times you want to go out without your children.
Being alone: Many of my clients find it challenging to spend so much time alone, which they are no longer used to. Some time alone might be desirable but not having the choice over how much is a different story.
Financial strains: A divorce itself will have significant financial impacts, as well as living alone or having to pay for child-care and/or support.
What is your personal story?
There will be more advantages and disadvantages as part of your individual situation. Sit down and make a list of what they are for you – this will help you through this period.
Whatever the reasons are, think about the advantages and disadvantages carefully and don’t rush a decision. It may be advisable to try mediation or couples counselling as part of your separation or to come to a joint decision and to support each other in dealing with this life transition.