Simon told me that although they both acknowledged that the marriage was over, they were struggling to agree on financial issues. They would attempt to discuss how to move forward but it always ended in huge arguments. Sometimes the tension in the house was so bad that he wouldn’t want to go home, even though the children were there. He felt he had no privacy anymore as their relationship was over but they still had to share a house.
Simon was also deeply worried his wife was going to bring her new partner to the family home and was panicking about how the children would feel towards a new man in their life. He admitted that he couldn’t bear the thought of his role as their father being challenged by another man.
As you will know, this situation is not uncommon. Living together can be tough – especially if the separation isn’t amicable. It is always worse if there are kids involved and if one partner has moved on to someone new.
I worked with Simon face-to-face and via Skype. He was hurt and completely overwhelmed by the life changes he was facing. During our first session he realised he was delaying the divorce paperwork as he was scared about his future and what being divorced would really mean to him. He was afraid to move things forward as was terrified of living on his own, not seeing his children, having to pay large sums of money to his wife and seeing his wife create a new family with another man.
He felt his life was ruined and he could not ever see himself being happy again. I worked with Simon over a period of three weeks to help him visualise a compelling future of his own. He began to see new opportunities that excited him and envisage a fresh start. While working through my Divorce Journey Process he admitted that there were certain things he felt he had missed out on while being married and he began to see this as a chance to redesign his life the way he wanted it.
I took him through my five-step process to help him face his fears about his wife moving on. I strongly believe that suppressing emotions is not healthy and will prevent you from healing and moving forward. It was important for Simon to acknowledge the different emotions he was experiencing and deal with those individually. I explained that it’s not a quick fix – it would certainly take some time for him to be completely at peace with his wife’s new partner – but he now sees that he too has a chance to find someone who will make him happy.
I worked with Simon to help create a good Divorce Support Team around him. He found a personal trainer and started to train twice a week. He reconnected with an old friend who he had lost touch with a few years ago, who had also been through a divorce. He found that his support really boosted him.
His legal team ensured that he got the best advice about his children. Once he had discussed his fears openly with them and he knew the facts, he felt calmer and more able to move forward. Knowledge is often very empowering for clients as their fear of the unknown can be the main cause of the rollercoaster of emotions.
I helped Simon to devise a co-parenting plan with his wife. He wrote down what was important to him and how he would how he would like it to work. In the plan, he also expressed how he wanted be involved with making decisions in their lives. I suggested that when things had calmed down at home, he could discuss the plan rationally with his wife. His confidence grew, simply by helping him to identify his own needs and acknowledge his rights as a parent to stay involved in his children’s lives.
I also gave Simon tips on creating your own personal space while living with your ex during separation. He put these into use and felt happier to go home even when tensions were high.
He admitted to me that the arguments were aggravated by the fact that he was slow with the paperwork. He decided that it would be best to move it along and he arranged to sit down with his wife and talk about their finances. As he had a renewed strength about his own future they were able to keep the conversations relatively amicable.
Simon felt reassured when he discussed his co-parenting plan with his wife and she agreed to work together with him on it. Simon explained to his wife how he felt about her new partner and she was able help put his mind at rest about co-parenting together and his value in their children’s lives. They were able to agree boundaries, such as not bringing new partners to the family home while they were both still living there, and never to argue in front of the children.
Divorce doesn’t have to be damaging for children, but this is very much in the hands of the parents and how they deal with it. Parents need to remember to act as role models: when the children are around, they must put their differences aside. If your client is still living in the same house as their ex, tensions can run high. If they have children at home it is vital that they have some coping strategies so that they make this as smooth as possible for everyone.