In the throes of new love, who among us ever wants to entertain the possibility of splitting up? It’s unthinkable. And when we’ve made vows, promising in front of witnesses (and, depending on your beliefs, in front of God), to stay together until we permanently expire, the idea that either party will ever have a change of heart simply doesn’t occur to us or, if it does, we swat it away as if it were a persistent wasp, troubling us quite unbidden on a hot day. But relationships end. Not all of them, no, but most of them, yes. From infancy, we’re bombarded with messages about true love. From films, art, music and theatre, the messages come thick and fast, programming us with the idea that anything other than long-lasting, true love with the perfect soul-mate is somehow aberrant. In fact, it’s perfectly normal. A relationship being finite does not mean it ‘failed’ or that it wasn’t worth having. It’s time to go easy on ourselves and realise that the fact that our relationship has had a shelf-life is not some terrible judgment on our worth. There’s enough upheaval as it is, so why add to it with self-flagellation, deep dark nights of the soul and unnecessary, morbid rumination? Better to get on with the business in hand, and part of that may be the need to rethink our living arrangements.
Among the first things to think about are numbers. Has your separation reduced you from living as a unit of two to one? Perhaps you’ve gone from needing four bedrooms to needing two. And is the separation one with an air of finality about it, or merely a trial? If the latter, then renting rather than buying is probably the sensible option. Is your former partner going to stay in the property you shared or also undertake a move? Separation, whether formal and forever or a temporary measure designed to give us some breathing space, always leaves us under clouds of uncertainty. We may feel frightened and very vulnerable. These feelings can be diminished by that most tried and tested of methods – making a list. This should be a list of every practical matter that needs sorting out. Why not make a start on yours, including details such as how soon you need to vacate the property, whether names on tenancy documents need to be changed, and any specific requirements you have for your new home (e.g. near family).
Moving House After Divorce
Many of the same things apply when it comes to moving house after divorce, but – of course – with the added stresses of all the legal entanglements created by marriage. If children are involved, then this is even more the case. Not only are you dealing with your own anguish, you’ve also got offspring whose feelings and wellbeing you will most certainly want to protect. As you pick your way through the post-marriage minefield and start looking for a new home (whether or not you have custody), why not involve your children by talking to them about the process? This would once have been taboo, but now we know that being frank with children is better than trying to create a pasteurised fantasyland for them to live in. When it comes to finding a new place to live, take your time, collaborate with your ex so that you’re still presenting a unified parental unit, and remember that there’s a wide variety of option for both the short and long-term, including the option of remaining under the same roof with your former spouse. Buying a house after divorce isn’t always easy while the financial fall-out of your separation is still being assessed.
Living Arrangements After Separating
If you’re the party who’s been left behind in the property you once shared with your partner, you may well not like the feeling of old memories taunting you in each and every room. At the same time, you may also experience a sense of feeling stuck, unable to think about what sort of new place of neighbourhood is likely to suit you. Divorce and separation can leave us enervated and ambivalent, quite unable to make decisions. Fortunately, there are all sorts of helpful and encouraging reading materials for people in exactly this situation. Why not start with Psychology Today’s account of creating a home after divorce?
For more help with working out how and where to live and what to do when separating, visit Relate’s Moving House And Relocation pages