Breakups are painful – and none more so than when the breakup is of your core relationship. Even if the separation is ultimately what you want and what you know is for the best, it is still a painful process – second only to the death of a spouse as life’s most stressful event.
And its impacts are far-reaching.
Not only does your separation directly impact you and your former partner; it has consequences in other parts of your life as well. Some of these are not surprising, but others can come as a surprise if you’re not prepared.
Here are just five ways that separation can affect your life – and how to overcome any obstacles it creates:
- Your children
It goes without saying that the biggest outside impact your separation will have is on your children. A family is like a mini-society and children are most affected by dissolution of the unit.
Changes including living circumstances, relocating, potentially changing schools, emotional upheaval, divided loyalty and feelings of confusion and heartbreak can all translate to withdrawal, depression, anxiety, poor school performance and even acting out.
Parents need to both support and assuage the feelings in their kids and try to behave in a moderate way together for the sake of their children. Ongoing conflict between parents is incredibly damaging to kids.
- Your extended family
All members of an extended family will be somehow impacted by the separation. Parents, siblings, cousins, in-laws – many family members will feel inclined (or obliged) to take sides. This can also impact on younger generations – and the ramifications can trickle down for many, many years.
Entire families have been fractured by the separation of a single couple. Take the high road – and don’t ask that others choose sides or express prejudice in front of children. Separation and divorce should not be made into a competition between warring parties.
- Your friendships
Like family can feel torn or expected to take sides, so can mutual friends. Any healthy long-term relationship will have many mutual friendships.
And a separation can be painful for these friends too. Statistics show that close friends of a divorcing couple are more likely to separate themselves; couple friendships are likely to dissolve; group dynamics will change forever; and remaining neutral on the separation can be very difficult.
Ultimately, friendships weaken. (Some friends may even feel threatened by your newly single status – just remember, this is not your problem). While things will certainly change, don’t ask or expect your friends to take sides.
Try to keep negative rhetoric about your former partner for non-mutual friends. It is incredibly insensitive to draw your mutual friends into the chaos and expect them to choose which one of you to support.
- Your health
It may come as a surprise to learn that separation has enormous health consequences. These include dramatic changes in weight; anxiety; depression; development of metabolic syndrome; cardiovascular disease and high blood pressure; insomnia; chronic health issues; and even substance abuse.
There is no more important time to be conscious of your health and wellbeing than during the upheaval of the separation process.
- Your work
Separation can even impact on your work performance. You may be distracted, have trouble focusing, take more sick leave, be less productive and require more time off to deal with legalities and practicalities. Seek professional counselling and be open with your manager about what is happening – but keep to the facts and keep emotion out of it.
In time, your life will get back on track – if you can allow yourself to be pragmatic and empathetic to others impacted by your separation.
If you are separating, please talk to us about the process you need to take to get the best possible outcome for everyone involved.
Call us on 07 3161 2762 or email at [email protected]