Deciding to end a relationship or a marriage is a life changing decision and the first step towards moving forward begins with a long and detailed conversation with your partner. Rachael Scharrer, founder of online resource, DivorceAnswered.com.au, understands that discussing your desire to separate from your partner – whether on a trial basis or through a divorce – is one of the most intimidating, stressful and uncomfortable scenarios imaginable. While it's easy to allow your emotions to derail your self-control, with careful planning it's possible to have this discussion in a productive and calm manner. Rachael shares her practical tips on how to have the 'I want a separation' conversation effectively.
Be careful who you talk to for advice beforehand
"Posting on social media about your decision to separate, even just among trustworthy friends could lead to things getting out of hand very easily. It's quite likely that you'll be bombarded with a large amount of contradictory advice and news will spread. The more people you tell, the higher the chance that they will talk amongst themselves and share this information with other people, which means your partner could hear this news through the grapevine and not from you. If you need to get advice, choose only one or two very trusted friends or family members and talk to them in person. Make it very clear that your discussion needs to remain private, out of respect for you and the autonomy of your relationship."
Have a calm conversation at home
"Calmly talk with your partner in the comfort of your home and thoroughly explain why you want to end the relationship. Block out several hours for the discussion and choose a day when there will be plenty of time afterwards for both of you to recover from the conversation. When you are talking about your feelings, your partner cannot tell you how to or how not to feel. Both of you might feel sad, angry, disappointed or relieved from the conversation. Remember not to call them names. Some examples of what to say may be:
a) When you have affairs with other people, it makes me feel worthless. I desire to be loved, desired and cherished and that is why I am leaving this relationship.
b) When you work so late so often, I feel infuriated and neglected because I deserve to be a bigger priority than work. I can't be in this relationship if work is always your first priority.
c) I am no longer happy with our relationship. While I will always love you as the other parent of our children, I deserve to be happy and I do not want to be in this relationship anymore.
d) When you are drunk all the time and attack me verbally, it makes me feel really upset and angry. I can't tolerate this abuse anymore and I do not want to be in this relationship anymore.
e) When you gamble and spend all of our money, I become upset because I feel like you don't care about providing the necessities for our family. I can't continue to live with a partner that can't control their spending."
Be prepared for compromise
"You might be imagining exactly how things may play out, maybe even a timeline. However, a relationship involves two people and this applies to separation and divorce too. You have the benefit of planning out everything for weeks or months in advance. For your partner, separation may not have even crossed their mind. Consequently, they're going to be playing catch up for a while. If you want this to be a constructive and amicable process, then you will need to cater for their needs and your own. Be prepared to listen and compromise, not just talk."
Don't use a trial separation as a dating opportunity
"You and your partner need to understand the purpose of a trial separation is to bring home the severity of the current relationship status. If you or your partner sees this as an opportunity to test the dating waters, then your trial separation could turn into a trial in court very quickly. Ensure that you are both on the same page as to what you want out of your separation. This is a chance for both of you to reflect on your relationship and how it needs to change for things to work out. However, if you have no genuine interest in trying to make the relationship work, then you should probably skip the trial separation step and be completely honest and upfront with your partner about what you really want."
Utilise the Separation Checklist and Separation Statement
"In the lead up to your request for separation or shortly after, make use of the Divorce Answered Separation Checklist. It is a comprehensive list of items that you need to address, consider or discuss with your partner. You may need legal advice on a few items in the checklist and I recommend that you contact a Family Lawyer for appropriate advice for your particular situation. Before your first appointment with a Family Lawyer, it is handy to have the Divorce Answered Separation Statement completed. This form helps you convey all messages, dates/events and items in the relationship in the most efficient, cost-effective way with your lawyer. Your lawyer may be open to you emailing the form prior to the first appointment as it will inform them of why you are there and it will enable you to discuss the most relevant items in your separation."
For more information, visit www.divorceanswered.com.au