Sometimes there is nothing for it except to separate. When two people have reached a point of frustration to the extent that they cannot have a conversation without total miscommunication, it is the right thing to separate. Distance might be all you two need. Perhaps it becomes permanent, and you will get divorced. But if this is the right thing for your whole family’s well-being, then it is to be appreciated.
But how do you navigate such a turbulent and emotionally draining time? How do you keep your kids from getting the least amount of trauma possible? First, you and your spouse should feel relief that you have decided to go ahead with a separation. Children can tell when the household is tense. They will form unhealthy ideas from watching the two people they love most stay together even in misery.
While they have many questions, you may find that your kids seem calmer and more affectionate towards you and your spouse now that you are in different households. This is a sign that they have been under stress and now feel better to connect with you because you no longer feel so stressed and unhappy at home all the time.
Do not take this as a sign that they need no more help. Ask your divorce lawyer to recommend any child psychologists or counselors they may know who specialize in helping children cope with separation and divorce. After all, your highest priority throughout this process should be to ensure what is between your spouse and you does not traumatize your children.
Form a Business-like Relationship
The relationship you previously had with your spouse has broken down. The solution is not to try and return to the past. Instead, find a way to form a business-like relationship with them. Your children are the main priority, and your communications with your spouse should be about keeping life as normal for them as possible.
Keeping things short and professional should go a long way towards helping with this. It is also suitable for the kids to see the two of you interact calmly and clearly after having witnessed many unhealthy coping mechanisms the two of you may have used while living together.
It may sting to have to be the bigger person, perhaps your spouse makes snide remarks, or you’ve had to move out because the house is in their name. Try to focus on the fact that if this is happening, then your separation is simply a cooling-down period before approaching an amicable divorce. Save all correspondence they send you that is mean or sarcastic for your lawyer, but be cordial in your direct contact with them.
This is the only way to ensure that your mental health is protected and in the right place for helping your children come to terms with the divorce.
Answer Attempts to Communicate
If you both parted due to a mutual agreement, there is no advantage to freezing them out when they want to communicate. Answer phone calls and reply to text messages related to the children. Do not engage with calls or text messages that try to bring up old fights and grievances.
In the event of a troubled separation, it might help to have an intermediary who helps the two of you communicate. You may not want to talk to your spouse through a therapist, but if it is the best way to reduce miscommunication, you must accept this. Your children’s well-being relies on your willingness to work with your spouse.
Do Not Generate Drama
If you have a lot of resentment or anger to express, go to friends and a counselor. Do not under any circumstances tell your children about the things you resent. You will be hurting them and causing them a lot of grief that they will carry into their adulthood and future relationships.
Avoid talking badly about your spouse on social media as well. That kind of post never goes away. Your spouse could see them and use this against you in the divorce, your children could see them and be traumatized by your venom, and you may lose the goodwill of your community by doing something so petty.
If your spouse talks badly about you, take screenshots and send them to your lawyer. After the divorce is finalized, you can set the record straight but avoid descending to a level where you put dirty laundry on the internet for all to see.
You will need to work with your spouse to find the best life for your children. They will be the ones who suffer the most, and their lives will change in ways they cannot fathom. Your children have known no other home than the one you raised them in, and losing it can have a lasting impact on them. It is in your and your spouse’s hands to ensure that this impact does not follow them negatively throughout their lifetime.