While divorce is rarely easy for most couples, some have the misfortune of not being able to move out after the decision to get a divorce has been made. Staying in the household usually has to do with finances. If one spouse is out of a job or is making a small income, he or she may not be able to afford to rent an apartment right away. If you find yourself in this situation, here are some of our top tips for managing to share a space with your soon-to-be ex.
Tip #1: Establish Routines
If you want to avoid spending too much time, or any time at all, around your spouse, the best way to do this is to both establish routines. Establishing a routine means doing a similar activity at a particular time throughout the day. This allows both of you to know where each of you is at any point during the day. For example, if Spouse A knows Spouse B likes to spend time watching TV after he gets home from work, Spouse A can avoid the living room until Spouse B leaves. Being predictable in your comings and goings will allow you to stay out of each other’s ways.
Tip #2: Be Civil
You may not like your spouse much right now, but your day-to-day life will be much more unpleasant if you are both treating each other with hostility. When you have to speak, do so with politeness. Manners are something you adopt even for strangers. In order to make your lives a little easier, practice using them with your ex whenever everyday conflicts arise.
Tip #3: Discuss When to Tell the Kids
If you and your spouse have children, it’s important to decide when to tell them. Some couples would rather not bring it up until one of the spouses can move out. Others prefer to be completely up front with their kids, especially if the couple is now sleeping in separate rooms. Whatever you both decide to do, make sure you agree about how much to tell the kids and when. Neither of you wants to be caught off guard.
Tip #4: Do Not Use Your Children as Pawns
Divorce isn’t a game, so there are no winners or losers. However, not all couples believe this. Some are so distracted by their own bitterness and ill-feeling they decide to sacrifice the well-being of their children to get back at their ex. However, children aren’t pawns, and if they’re old enough to observe your behavior, they won’t appreciate being used as such. If you don’t want to talk to your ex at all, don’t use your child to send messages. Instead, send your ex a letter, text, voicemail, or e-mail to convey what you need. Alternatively, you could just gather your courage and talk to them yourself, despite how unpleasant the prospect may seem. Communicating with each other without using the kids should be a condition of continuing to live together. Make sure to discuss it as soon as possible after deciding to divorce.
Tip #5: Make a Plan
Neither of you wants to be stuck in this situation forever. At some point, one of you will have to move out of the house. It’s best to make a plan with moving forward with the divorce rather than living in this limbo state indefinitely. You can both do this by both making a list of the goals you each want to accomplish in the next three, six, and twelve months. Let’s say your job doesn’t cover the expense of the full mortgage without the help of your spouse’s income. You should make a plan to find a higher-paying job or an additional source of revenue within the next three to six months.
Tip #6: Make a Budget
Part of what’s keeping you under the same roof is finances. If either you or your spouse can’t afford to move out, make a budget that will allow you to save as much money as possible. A budget will help you cut down on needless expenses and maximize your savings, so you can make plans to leave. It can also contribute to paying for the costs of hiring a divorce lawyer.
Tip #7: Find a Counselor
If you haven’t already seen a psychologist or counselor before, make time to do so now. You will be living with your spouse potentially for months. You both should know how to best resolve conflicts with each other and how to proceed with living together in a way that minimizes the adverse effects on yourselves and your children. Finding a counselor for your kids can also help them cope with the change.
Tip #8: Hold Off on Dating
You may be ready to move on, but in reality, you’re still living with your ex. Not only would dating be discourteous to your ex and your children, but it’s also discourteous to the potential romantic partners you will be seeing. Try to keep from dating at least until you’ve moved into your own place, if not until the divorce is completely finalized.
Tip #9: Create Your Own Private Space
It may be hard to grieve the end of your relationship while your ex is still living with you. You may not feel as free to fully experience your emotions as you would if you lived alone. You should try to create routines that allow you to deal with your feelings, such as journaling, getting together with friends and family, and taking a daily walk while listening to your favorite podcast or music.
Tip #10: Voice Your Needs
Part of what can create resentment between people is the inability for one person to read the mind of the other. Such an ability would certainly make communication much easier because nothing is more frustrating than not getting your needs met. The best way for things to go smoothly as you live together is to state your needs to your ex, friends, and family members. Be specific about what you need from them or what you would like them to stop doing. There’s nothing wrong with voicing your needs and putting yourself first (or at least second, behind your kids). Additionally, getting into the habit of stating what you need from other people will empower you to continue to do so when building your new life after the divorce.
If you and your spouse would like to get divorced, talk about your options with one of our skilled Katy divorce attorneys. Adams Law Firm has been helping families through the divorce process for more than three decades. We have also built a reputation for treating our clients with respect and compassion. Let us help you navigate your family law case.