Making the final decision to file for divorce comes slowly in some situations. One spouse may initiate the separation by moving out; the other goes along because there doesn’t seem to be a choice; but neither may be able to take the final step.
But limbo can’t last forever. Although some, especially older couples, may decide going through a legal divorce is unnecessary “until further notice,” in general, limbo is unsettled territory, leaving one to feel the fresh pain of parting for many months. Am I about to be alone? Does he just need to remember to miss me and our lives together? Am I kidding myself – maybe I’m just in denial.
Whatever it is, that situation deprives both parties of a fresh start, either together or divorced.
Here are a few ways to create a healthier limbo:
Divorce Attorney: Spend an hour talking to a divorce lawyer about the rules of marital separation in your area. Does moving out of the marital home constitute abandonment? If you leave the children in the care of your spouse, will it affect your future custody agreement? Ask what actions you take now could have a bearing on your future life if you eventually get a divorce. Be overly cautious now rather than wish at some point in the future that you had been!
Family: Spend social time with your family – at least with those whose company you enjoy! Avoid the ones who can’t refrain from quizzing you and/or constantly telling you what you should do. You need a break from that. If you have children, spend pleasant, happy time with them, whether you’re living with them or not.
Friends: If you have long time friends who won’t take sides and who can be both good listeners and fun company, spend time with them on shared interests, old and new.
New Friends: Meet new people and develop new friendships. Those who only know you, the new you, won’t remind you of what used to be. Spend time getting to know the ones who make you feel good about yourself and life in general. Steer clear of the doomsayers.
Weekends: Some separated and divorced people hate being at home on weekend evenings – others don’t. If you’re one of the former, plan a shared, fun activity for at least one night every weekend.
* In economically tough times, make it a group challenge to come up with free or very cheap fun, so no one will be left out.
Practical Steps: Whether you stay married or not, there are a few basic, healthy steps to take now. Open your own checking account; apply for your own credit card (legitimately using full household income on the application); and start a separate cell phone account if you’re currently on a family plan. Those are good, safe steps to take even if you return to a long and happy marriage.
In essence, develop your own healthy life. You aren’t excluding. You’re simply choosing to be a healthy individual, whatever the life situation.