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Separated But Still Under The Same Roof
Here's help for couples living with this credit crunch dilemma!
Recent statistics show that divorce is on the decline and at a lower level than any time in the last 25 years. I'd love to think this reflects people are working harder at their marriages, but there’s evidence that many couples simply can’t afford to separate once their marriage is over.
This can be a miserable experience compounding the original stresses and strains that led to the relationship breaking down. If you’ve found yourself in this position here are helpful hints to take the heat out of the situation and help you live separate lives under the same roof.
Small Investment, Big Reward
You may not have been to marriage guidance as your relationship broke down figuring it wouldn't help your particular problems. Or if you did, it didn't succeed in keeping you together. And, yes, money is tight or you wouldn't be in this situation but don't let that detour you from getting third-party help to prevent volcanic rows while you're forced to live together. One good session in mediation is worth a one-off charge to help bridge the gaps between you.
The Rewards Of A Rota
When it comes to things like using the kitchen or the bathroom, and you want to have as little friction as possible, draw up a rota together. A rota will give you both space so you're not constantly knocking into each other in the kitchen or wanting a bath when the other is in it.
You once lived in each other's pockets and knew the detail of the other’s day. You could casually ask, "who was that on the phone?" or, "where have you been?" But now such questions are a big No-No as you learn to keep your lives separate and private. Agree that you'll remind each other when you slip into an old habit of asking such things. You don't have to scream, "it's none of your business!" at the other. You can keep it simple and polite with something like, "remember we’re not discussing these things."
Resist Revenge Behaviour
It's sorely tempting to rub your ex’s nose in it over things like going out on a date with someone new if they treated you badly during your relationship. Don't go there! Because for a moment it may feel good to watch their face drop thinking about you with someone new but believe me they’ll seek their own revenge soon enough. Such things can develop into a terrible cycle of tit-for-tat in trying to break the other’s already broken heart.
The Budget Bites
Maybe you can’t stand the sight of your ex and can’t wait to be shot of them. Don't let that cloud your judgement when it comes to things like budgeting for food and household items. There's no point in you, e.g., each having pints of milk going off in the fridge because you couldn't finish the one you bought just for your use. Together agree a budget on shared items from toilet cleaners to teabags. Otherwise you’re simply cutting off your nose to spite your face while trying to save to get out of there!
"Oh, wouldn't it be lovely to make some cutting comments about your ex’s new girlfriend/boyfriend," you think. No, it wouldn't be lovely and would only lead to nastiness. You may want to comment on all sorts of things that your ex starts doing but remind yourself repeatedly that it's not your place to do so.
My Place Or Yours
Face it, you’re both probably going to meet new people and will each need some private time. When you both start dating agree that you'll occasionally come home late so the other can chill-out with their new boy/girlfriend. Play fair and take turns to give each other such space. You wouldn't like it if you went down to make your toast one morning to find your ex’s new lover in the kitchen - so don't spring that's sort of surprise on your ex either.
Give Each Other A Break
In order to keep your sanity both of you will need breaks from this stressful situation. Try as regularly as possible to get away for a weekend and stay at friends or family. If you both make an effort to do this it’ll feel like you have less time eyeing each other up warily like two caged tigers, or crossing paths under the same roof.
The Little Niggles
You might believe it's best to look at the big picture when trying to sort out how you continue living together. However it's the little things that’ll soon do more than niggle and will lead to eruptions. Identify the little things that drove you nuts before the break up and how they can be solved. For example, she annoyingly left her make up strewn across the coffee-table, and ditto, he left wet towels on the bathroom floor. Agree to try your hardest to break such bad habits so they don’t niggle each other.
Finally, like a long-standing illness that needs a regular check-up, your long-standing separation under-the-same-roof must have regular check-ups. Sit down on occasion to chat about how it's going. Re-negotiate things that aren't working. Give yourselves a pat on the back for the things that are.
P.S. you might find doing all these things brings renewed fondness for each other!
Published in The Express Newspaper
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