Once you have made the decision to divorce you have likely been through a great deal of emotional turmoil, and are feeling oh so ready to put it all behind you! If you find yourself in a Divorce Living Arrangement you may feel forced to continue living together for a period of time, it can be really frustrating and challenging.
As a psychotherapist and divorce coach who has worked with many individuals in this situation, I can assure you it can be done. However, it will take the right mindset and some consistent strategies. By setting boundaries and avoiding conflict most divorcing couples can endure this awkward leg of the journey.
Unless there is an imminent threat to you and your children, signaling you to leave immediately- chances are you can make it through this period with minimal collateral damage. So let’s discuss the best way to approach divorce living arrangements together while going through your divorce.
Reasons Divorcing Couples Continue to Live Together
Timing/other demands. Perhaps your child is a senior in high school and you need to focus all of your energy on getting them ready to leave for college. Or maybe you are caring for an elderly parent and dealing with the accompanying emotional distress. Navigating a divorce just isn’t feasible when all of your resources are directed elsewhere at this time.
Finances. Divorce can be an expensive process. You may not be able to afford the expense of an attorney, let alone moving out and paying for rent and living costs.
Preparation. There are so many logistics to consider. Most people can’t just pack up and start a new life overnight, especially when there are children involved. You need time to figure out whether to sell your home, or which of you will be moving out, living arrangements for the kids, how to divide belongings, and so much more.
Strategies For Living Together While Divorcing: Divorce Living Arrangements
1. Set boundaries and establish new routines. You are sharing a living space but not “living together” so it is important to divide that space. Have separate bedrooms if possible. Move your clothing and belongings into that room. Try and use shared living spaces at different times, for example during meals and for watching TV. It can send mixed signals to the kids (and your spouse) if you are still hanging out together and maintaining old routines.
2. Divide household responsibilities. Even though it may not feel efficient or practical, during this transitional living period it is important that each spouse be responsible for their own laundry, cooking, etc. You will need to set up a schedule to alternate those tasks, as they relate to the children.
3. Divide parental duties. This is important, especially if the children are younger. To avoid confusion and chaos, it always helps to have a planned schedule in terms of who will be in charge of the bedtime routine, homework supervision, extracurricular activities, etc.
4. Discuss finances. The objective for both of you is to move on and live separately, so this is major. Hopefully you can both agree to avoid any big purchases during this time. Discuss how you are going to handle your joint bills and expenses, and make a plan for separating your financial resources. It may be beneficial to hire a qualified financial advisor to help you navigate money issues prior to, during, and after the divorce.
5. Set ground rules for dating. If one or both of you have decided to start dating, it is important to keep your romantic lives out of the home, especially if there are children in the picture. Not only is it awkward and confusing to bring new partners into your home, but it is best to avoid perusing dating sites or sending texts from home. Kids are observant, and once they reach a certain age they will be watching closely.
6. Avoid conflict. Emotional boundaries are just as important as physical boundaries. Keep your conversations based on practical matters and stay away from advice, criticism, or any topics that can fuel an argument. Communicate using Bill Eddy’s BIFF technique keeping it Brief, Informative, Friendly, and Firm. If face-to-face conversations are triggering, consider communicating via email.
7. Practice self-care. There is no escaping it. Divorce is emotionally draining even if you do everything “right.” As with any stressful life event, self-care is critical. Even if you don’t feel up to it, make an effort to eat nutritious meals, get adequate rest, and frequent exercise. Carve out some alone time to take a walk, enjoy a relaxing bath, or read a good book. Take up yoga or learn about practicing mindfulness.
8. Pursue separate activities. Even though you are living under the same roof, for now, the goal is to start creating a new life centered around your personal goals and desires. The schedule that you both work out needs to include free time for each of you. And although that time may be limited, fill it with activities you enjoy. Join a book club, take an art class or just meet a good friend for coffee.
9. Seek out a qualified divorce coach. Although you may be getting well-meaning advice from family and friends, no one can fully understand what you are experiencing and all the intricacies of divorce. A good divorce coach can help you navigate all the practical and emotional aspects of the divorce process.
10. Talk to your children This is never easy, especially if the kids are close to both of you. Remember their lives are about to change drastically as well. Be as truthful as possible and explain what is happening in an age-appropriate manner, without unnecessary detail or bad-mouthing the other parent. Let them know it is OK to feel sad, and that they can come to you anytime. Assure them of your love and that you are committed to working everything out for the best.
Divorce Living Arrangements
Divorce is never easy, especially if you are still living together. You may feel that you are in a holding pattern, and unable to propel forward. But you can actually use this time to gradually transition into your new reality, and ease your children into it as well. It will take some willpower and planning to break old habits and routines, but it can be done!
You don’t have to navigate this confusing time alone. It would be my honor to accompany you on this journey. To discover more about how I can help please visit my Divorce Support and Recovery Coaching page. Also, be sure to check out my online divorce programs.
I look forward to hearing from you soon so we can begin planning for your meaningful new future, and the fulfilling life you deserve!