Today you’re going to learn how to break up with someone you live with and have a child with.
Separation is never easy and does not come without cost. If we are honest with ourselves, we have a chance to get through it with fewer losses.
People have always parted ways, although divorces have been on the rise in recent years. Researchers say customs have changed, economic levels have risen, but women have also become more independent. Among the main reasons for divorce are incompatibility of characters, infidelity, drinking alcohol, or financial disagreements.
On the other hand, Prof. John Gottman, a psychologist at the University of Washington who has studied couples for nearly 40 years and analyzed the causes of breakups, says that it’s not infidelity or money that are the biggest problems at all. We are still able to deal with this somehow. According to him, those who divorce are those who stop listening to their partner and taking an interest in their problems.
So what can we do to part well when there is no other way out? How to minimize suffering and emerge from a failed relationship with strength for a new life?
How To Break Up With Someone You Live With
1. Consider whether your relationship still exists.
You shop together, take care of the baby, sometimes even go to see friends or family together. But you already spend vacations separately, under the pretext that the child will gain more, the vacation will be longer at the ocean. Separately, you go to parties because someone has to stay with the child because one likes the game and the other likes dancing.
Of course, we do not have to do everything in a relationship together. It is worth cultivating separate areas of interest as much as common ones, but the latter should be. Being in a relationship is not a corporate execution of projects and division of tasks. It’s mutual support, attentiveness, nurturing joint development, and much more.
With a sense of inadequacy or even alienation, one can assume that the relationship we once created is no longer there, that all that is left is a well (or not) functioning “Smith Family” enterprise. It is not good to leave everything in such a situation to its course. If we don’t take corrective action, there may be conflicts or unnoticed life building somewhere next door, maybe even with someone else.
2. Write down what is not working
A relationship crisis is not synonymous with a breakup. Whether we want to divorce or rebuild the relationship, it is useful to do a profit and loss account, that is, to write down what is working and what is not working. Let’s focus for a moment on what doesn’t work. And this doesn’t mean an inventory of grievances and resentments.
It’s not the severity of the issues that matters, it’s just identifying them. Certain things can’t happen in a relationship for it to work like a well-oiled machine. Lack of trust, lack of interest in the partner’s affairs, lack of respect, lack of intimacy, or lack of sex are deficits that destroy the most promising relationship.
A relationship falls apart not only when there are brawls, insults, or making up with each other. It happens when each partner lives “next door.” They can then take three different paths: changing nothing; deciding to make amends (either on their own or with the help of a couples therapist); or breaking up.
And what if there are quarrels, mutual accusations and contempt, recognition of other values, or disagreement with violence? Then only very intensive work or divorce remains. However, even then, it is worth doing a profit and loss account. If only to
Both to explain to your partner and yourself why it is better to separate. so that after some time you can start life again, but also differently.
3. Answer to yourself: Why do you want to break up?
A few, maybe a dozen years ago, you knew perfectly well why you wanted to be together. because of great love, because lust, because shared ideals and ideas of life. There was supposed to be a beautiful house, children and a tree planted together, or in yet another version, fixing the world, fighting for the lives of seals or dolphins.
Meanwhile, imperceptibly, all this was lost somewhere. The ideals that were so important at the beginning were lost somewhere, overwhelmed by everyday life. Slowly, desire, closeness, and intimacy died. There came a moment when you no longer knew how to answer the question of why you were together. But this is the moment when you need to ask another question and find the answer. Why do we want to separate?
When I ask such a question to my clients, they are often surprised. They can accuse their partner of neglect, lack of loyalty, or lack of love. And why do they want to be apart? Why will their lives be better without their partner?
It’s important to be able to understand what actually contributed to the disappearance of love, and often respect or friendship, which is so valuable in a relationship. You can probably build a whole list of reasons for a breakup: finally I will spend my time as I like; I will regain my freedom; I will return to my old ideas about life; maybe I will find someone who will share tenderness with me?
These reasons are probably as many as there are people separating. Important for the decision itself, but also for sorting out life after the breakup, is to say to yourself: I parted because I wanted to… I left because I didn’t agree with… This is not the same as saying, “We parted because he betrayed me,” because then we passively accept what the world sends us.
That’s why it’s better to say, “We part,” because I don’t accept betrayal. I leave because I do not want to be with a woman who does not feel love and passion for me. Then it is my decision. I decide my life. I do not stand passively.
4. Common goods
On the surface, money does not give happiness. Maybe the goal in life should not be to accumulate them, but it is worth talking about them at every stage of the relationship. Talking about money in a crisis situation is often very difficult. Especially when, over the years of marriage, we have accumulated a lot of mutual connections and dependencies.
When preparing for a breakup, it’s a good idea to take inventory of what we have together and what we have committed to together. Look at it from the perspective of the good years, not the present conflict. Unfortunately, I often encounter a situation where one of the partners treats the financial sphere as a tool for revenge. In particular, the person who feels betrayed thinks that the atonement will be to take everything for himself.
It is possible to have this attitude, but revenge does not build anything, and after all, “after” there is further life waiting. Perhaps it is worth answering the question of whether such revenge will build us up; whether it will make us stronger, wiser in experience, and open to being without a previous partner. Before the lawyers enter the ring, let’s take a common-sense approach to the subject of joint assets and write down how we want to divide them. At worst, we will be well prepared for formal negotiations.
5. The kids
When a couple who wants to separate has children, the world becomes more complicated. Often, adults are fed up with the illusion that children don’t figure anything out. And children know everything.
Therefore, in a relationship crisis, even if we have not made the decision to break up, but also regardless of the reasons, you need to be prepared to talk to your children. This is very difficult, especially if we have some mutual resentment or if we accuse each other. The worst thing you can do is to hold the children responsible for the problems or drag them into the conflict.
Very often, I encounter a scenario where one parent tells the children: “Dad wants to leave us,” or “Mom cheated on us, betrayed us.” Here, there is no “us.” The children have neither betrayed nor been betrayed (I am not talking, of course, about the situation when, for example, there is violence by one parent against the child!).
Increasingly, there are couples who want to prepare for a conversation with their son or daughter. It is then worth considering a mutually acceptable version, and looking for the most appropriate time and place. And many factors need to be taken into account. The son’s upcoming exam or the birthday party that the daughter has been waiting for a long time It is also worth considering what questions the children might ask (1).
If the couple doesn’t decide on a three-month separation, talk about what the family’s life will be like during this time; where you will live; how you will spend your time. And if the couple is still living together, it is also necessary to explain to the children, for example, the cooling of the relationship or separate bedrooms. The guiding principle that will help the child get through the crisis is the consistency and honesty of both of you.
A separate issue that absolutely must be discussed is what life will be like for both the child and the parents after the separation. I often find that both mom and dad want to actively participate in the child’s life. Maybe alternate care is not so common yet, but it is no longer a spectacular exception.
Consensual open care is not just about setting a calendar. It’s also agreeing on a parenting concept. How many children of divorced parents say: “and at mom’s I can play games late” or “dad lets me eat sweets every day”. This time of talking about raising children is also the moment to establish rules for contact with grandparents, who have a not inconsiderable role to play in the children’s lives, or the arrival of mom or dad’s new partner.
I know from my friends’ accounts that friendships with their partner’s parents or siblings have been maintained despite the divorce. I know grandparents who still spend time with their grandchildren, even though their parents don’t talk to each other. They know how to rise to the occasion and fulfill their role.
6. Family and friends
Over the years of being together, we form a circle of people around us who are important to us. Divorce is a test of strength for these relationships, and it is not easy either for the protagonists of all the turmoil or for the people around them.
Most of us, in such situations, build coalitions and try to attract those people we consider close to us. We demand declarations of loyalty, standing by our side. Often, we expect to be actively involved in the divorce case, for example, by testifying in court.
Even when the divorce does not proceed in an atmosphere of brawling and mutual resentment, it is not easy for anyone. Acquaintances and friends often do not want to enter into conflict. They value both sides, and if they choose to know only one, they want it to be their decision. One also has to accept that divorce often involves the loss of loved ones. Sometimes good relations with the ex-partner’s family will continue, but this is not a common occurrence.
7. Imagine life “after”
Imagine, draw, or write down in a notebook what the new life will be like. It’s not just about living alone and lonely evenings: suddenly you have to remember to get your car serviced, buy products to make your child’s breakfast for school. Our life consists of a thousand little things. It is good to write them down when preparing for divorce.
This is only a seemingly trivial activity, taking care of unimportant things when the world is collapsing. Because if, in preparing for separation, you write down everything that is important to your (and your child’s) daily life, it will be easier to control loneliness, sadness, helplessness, and anger, the emotions that will seize you at the beginning of a new stage of life.
The more you sort out and write in your calendars, the less dramatically you will go through the mourning of your relationship. Yes, mourning! Let’s be clear—even when we understand what happened that caused the relationship to fall apart, even when it was our decision, we will still go through its phases.
8. Dont’t let hatered win
Hate destroys like a drug, not only us, the perpetrators, but also our witnesses. Anger is destructive; it leads astray to ill-advised decisions. I am absolutely not referring here to the emotions that accompany the crisis and breakup of a relationship.
It is necessary to speak, and to speak loudly, about what we feel. About anger, humiliation, disappointment, loss of self-esteem or even disgust. But let’s not let these destructive emotions run our lives during and after the breakup (2).
Let’s also not blur reality or play actors. Often, people almost immediately after a breakup fall into a vortex of crazy entertainment, romance, and erasing the past. Still others run away from people, blame themselves, and feel hopeless. And it is crucial in a breakup situation to take time and agree to go through mourning.
You need to give yourself time for it, sometimes a few months, but more often a year or two. After all, it’s not that nothing happened, and after a breakup—for whatever reason and on whose initiative—it’s worth allowing yourself to go through all five phases of mourning, which are almost identical to those that accompany coping with the death of a loved one.
The first is denial—we pretend that nothing happened, although our mind tells us otherwise. Initially, denial allows us to find ourselves in a new reality. If it lasts too long, it makes us unreal. That’s why, after a few weeks, it’s a good idea to say out loud to yourself or write on a piece of paper and hang it next to the mirror: you’ll cope with the world without him or her; cry, get rid of bad thoughts.
Later comes the anger: how could he or she do this to me? After the phase of denial, reality returns and hits you like a bullet in the head. Sometimes this realization of the situation doesn’t hurt until it hurts. The pain is sometimes redirected and expressed as anger.
Over time, this anger is also directed at ourselves, because we know that we are both responsible for the breakup of the relationship, even if only one cheated. Accepting this responsibility is very difficult. Therefore, at the stage of anger, we look for a victim on whom we will blame everything. This could be a former partner, but it could also be a mother-in-law or colleague.
To enter the next phase of mourning, it is worth giving yourself permission to suffer, forgiving yourself for your mistakes, and setting out to play sports so that serotonin starts to be secreted again. It may also be that you want to start all over again. Suddenly, after throwing out our emotions, we get the idea that we will rebuild everything.
It’s not that we believe that suddenly things have changed. We simply want to extinguish, stifle the pain. In fact, you know that in the long run you won’t be together anyway, and the only motivation is the desire for temporary relief. Try to get yourself under control and realize that an unhealthy arrangement is not worth prolonging. Don’t provoke contact with the ex-partner. Stay away from his Facebook. Don’t send text messages. Don’t hang out outside work.
Then there’s depression: everything is pointless. Once we get our emotions under control and begin to embrace the reality of the “after,” there is sadness, a sense of meaninglessness in life. Hopelessness makes it hard to mobilize. Maybe it’s the moment to get help from a specialist. Sometimes a minimal change of environment is enough, such as a new mattress in the bedroom, repainted walls or new towels.
Finally comes acceptance. To reach this stage, we need about two years. Once you begin to accept what has happened, you will gradually be able to recover from the grief of the relationship. This does not automatically guarantee a sense of happiness, since you are still in one of the stages, but you will be less overwhelmed by emotions and will begin to see the light that will lead you to “normal functioning.”
Divorce can be viewed as a closed stage in life. Things that bring back memories may continue to generate unpleasant emotions before you completely accept the end of the relationship. Therefore, take care of yourself. If you used to ride horses before the relationship and still miss it, start doing it again. Go to vernissages or learn to dance. In the end, after going through all the phases of grief, we become stronger, taking care of ourselves and ready for the next stage in life. and maybe even another relationship.
I want to thank you for taking the time to read my article about how to break up with someone you live with. I sincerely hope its contents have been a good help to you.