Due to the recession, many divorcing parents must continue living together, at least temporarily, because they cannot afford to maintain two separate households. If you’ve found yourself in this position, the following survival strategies can help you create boundaries with your ex while you’re still living together:
1. Decide When to Tell Your Kids About the Divorce
Some couples who plan to continue living together temporarily would rather not tell the kids what’s going on until an actual physical separation takes place when one parent moves out. Other couples prefer to be completely up front with their children, particularly if they have the ability to sleep in separate rooms. Whatever you decide, make sure that you and your ex are in agreement about how much to tell the kids so that there are no surprise announcements.
2. Establish Routines
If it’s come to the point where you and your soon-to-be-ex are barely speaking, do everything you can to make the conflict less obvious to your children. For example, work out a routine where one of you handles the morning duties and the other handles the evening routines. Alternatively, if possible, rearrange your work schedules to minimize contact with one another.
3. Be Civil
Practice using your manners with your ex. Remember, your kids are watching your interactions and learning how to deal with everyday conflicts by what they see. As much as you can, work toward demonstrating civility and self-control at all times.
4. Do Not Use Your Children as Go-BetweensWhether your children know about the impending divorce or not, never use them as pawns to communicate information to your ex. Likewise, if you notice that your ex is attempting to do just that, make communicating with each other directly a condition of continuing to live together.
5. Develop a PlanIt’s best if the two of you can work out a basic timeline for moving forward with the divorce or separation, rather than languishing in limbo indefinitely. Work together to make a list of the goals you both want to accomplish in the next three, six, and twelve months. For example, you may need to get a new job in the next three months, so that you can afford to cover the mortgage when your ex moves out in six months.
6. Seek Counseling
If you know that the two of you will need to continue living together for an extended period of time, make an appointment to see a counselor together to discuss how to resolve conflicts and how to proceed in a way that minimizes any negative effects on your children.