Sometimes the decision to end a relationship is not a mutual one and carrying the burden of needing to say it’s over but not knowing how to say it can be difficult. Our experience as family lawyers has been that there are a myriad of ways to approach the topic taking into consideration the dynamics of the relationship and the personality and nature of your partner.
Having discussed it with our clients, some of the common things to consider might be:
1. Be as prepared as you can be – think about what questions might be asked and what plan moving forward you might have. What will the situation look like in one week or one month? Write down what you want to say and how you see things panning out but don’t go into too much detail at this stage. Now is not the time to bed down your respective futures so don’t bombard your partner with too much information. You might consider speaking with an allied health professional such as a psychologist first to talk through how you will approach the conversation. We know that information and knowledge are power and so you may also consider obtaining legal advice prior to you having the first conversation so that you understand your respective rights and responsibilities moving forward.
2. Make sure your timing is right – this is not a conversation to have over the dinner table or while you are bathing the children. It should be done in a calm space, out of the children’s ear shot away from work and other such stresses.
3. Be mindful –While you may have had the opportunity to grieve the end of your relationship, your partner has not and will, in all likelihood, be many steps behind you in the process and realisation that the relationship is at an end. Give them time to grieve.
4. Consider the children at all times – central to this conversation is the needs of the children. Consider the impact the fallout may have on your children and act appropriately. At all times, they need to feel loved and secure – that needs to be at the forefront of your mind. Reassure them that love and security can still be felt having parents in separate households but it requires the parents to act mindfully and respect that their behaviours and responses impact upon their children.
5. Keep talking – keeping talking to each other, the children, your family and your health professionals and when appropriate, your lawyer. It won’t be easy, but with support, knowledge and guidance you will get through it.