In this article, the author – Susan Leigh, a Counsellor and Hypnotherapist who for several years have been working with stressed individuals to promote confidence and self-belief, with couples in crisis to improve communications and understanding and with business clients to support the health and motivation levels of individuals and teams – looks at why and how divorced and separated families manages to live together after the event has taken place.
There can be a myriad of reasons why a couple choose to continue living together after their divorce. And sometimes they may succeed in becoming good or even better friends once the marriage commitment has been dissolved. This arrangement often works well until one of the couple look to embark on a new relationship. It can be difficult for a potential new lover to understand the subtleties of their partner still living with their ex.
Let’s look at some of the reasons why a couple may choose to live together after they have divorced:
- Finances are often an important factor in this decision. Many couples simply cannot afford to re-establish two homes from the breakup of their family home. If the family home is conveniently situated and spacious enough it can be a sensible option to continue living there and establish separate living arrangements.
- Children and family are often a major consideration. Many people are loathe to be separated from their children and keeping the family home intact can sometimes be the most workable solution to the problem. Whether parents or childless, when both people are able to respect each other this arrangement has the potential to work well enough. It can sometimes work well for their extended family too, providing reassurance and continuity.
- Familiarity is often a major pull on the heart strings. Knowing each other better than anybody else, having shared so much of each other’s lives, secrets, successes and failures counts for a lot. If a couple are not constantly arguing or there is no one else involved, living together can sometimes seem to be a reasonable solution ‘for the time being’. This situation can potentially continue indefinitely.
- Practicality of domestic arrangements can sometimes provide good reasons to continue living together. The family home may be in a convenient location for work, family, social commitments. Working hours may complement each other with regard to childcare, animals, shopping.
- Companionship can be important. Some couples continue to like each other as friends, but the intensity of their love has dissipated. The value of a good friend cannot be underestimated. Some people decide to enjoy living together in a more companionable way, free from the commitment and responsibility of a marriage.
What needs to happen to support this arrangement:
- Respect. Respecting each other’s space, time, feelings are all key elements of supporting this arrangement. When two people are not married any more they need to demonstrate good manners and appreciation towards each other, remaining clear that it is not appropriate to make demands on each other’s time, money, emotions as an automatic right.
- Honesty. Saying how each other feels has to happen if the relationship is going to work. Poor communications may well have been one of the reasons the marriage failed in the first place, so being honest in this situation is very important. At times there may be potential new partners appearing on the scene so it is important to be clear, at least to oneself, about ways of coping if this significant development occurs.
- Ground rules can help. Being clear as to finances, domestic arrangements, guests from the outset can help smooth the transition from being partners to housemates.
Unusual and unorthodox solutions can work well if both parties are prepared to be careful and sensitive about each other’s sensibilities. Being respectful and understanding can ease the new arrangement into place. After all, having been good friends at one time in your lives, there can be good reasons to support this happening again.
Please also note that this material is made available as informative material only and that it does not in any way or form constitute legal advice.