Callum Sutherland - Oct 19, 2023
The good thing about separation is that it may allow you to do things you really want to do but haven’t for the sake of your relationship. Separation is a difficult time so giving yourself something positive to look forward could be a great idea.
SWOT is an acronym often used in business: strengths, weakness, opportunities, and threats. I suggest you do a SWOT analysis on yourself when you are separating. As we grow through our relationships, we will develop our roles or our parts to play in the relationship. There is often one person who looks after the finances, sometimes one is the cook or the person who does the majority of the cleaning, sometimes one person is the reason you have social lives, etc. It’s time to acknowledge what your roles were and what you didn’t do.
Strengths: What are the areas you naturally gravitate to and took care of during your relationship? These are the areas that will cause you the least stress because you probably are good at them or like doing them.
Weaknesses: What area of your relationship did your partner take care of? Did they take care of financial matters? If so, you need to find out about your investments, budget, and paying bills. This may sound easy to you if you took care of it, but if you have been in a 10-year relationship where the other takes care of it, it will be an adjustment for you. Seeking out a Financial Advisor to guide you would be a great step or maybe you have a friend who is strong in this area.
How are your cooking and cleaning skills? Your budget just became a little tighter so you don’t want to be eating out all the time nor do you want to be eating frozen pizza every night or your belt will also get tighter. You may need to take a cooking class or two. You may also want to budget for a cleaner. I know some people just hate cleaning and or don’t have time for it. Now that you have your own place and are on your own, it still needs to be done.
Another area to think about is home and auto maintenance. If you are keeping the family home or moving into a house on your own, maintenance and repairs fall to you. How will you navigate this? Did your partner use to make all the repairs? Now you will have to budget to pay someone to do those things.
There are many other items that may come up and you as an individual have to take time to reflect. Building partnerships and friendships to help you with your weaknesses is a great way to minimize the impact and stress as you start your next chapter.
Opportunities: The good thing about separation is that it may allow you to do things you really want to do but haven’t for the sake of your relationship. Separation is a difficult time so giving yourself something positive to look forward could be a great idea.
Threats: I think the obvious threat is emotions that cause the separation process to go on for a long time and have a high cost. It takes both parties to make it work, but you can focus on yourself and do your part. The other threat I have seen is isolation. Find a way to have time with friends and/or family. This is especially important if you have children because now you need childcare/a babysitter to do things
The SWOT analysis, step 4 in my previous blog, shouldn’t take a long time to do. You know what you are good at and what you don’t know and don’t like. Thinking through this process allows you to be more prepared and avoid surprises. There is nothing anyone can give you to make the process easy or hurt less, only time will do that. Reflecting and preparing can help reduce stress and clear up some of the unknowns that drive our fear.
Should you contact your spouse during separation?
This is going to be different depending on the circumstances of the break-up. If one or both of your emotions are very high, a break may be needed where you don’t text, email, or call. I have seen where communication is done through the lawyer or mediator. If emotions are managed, set boundaries and expectations around communication to keep both of you on the same page.
Question for you: If you are looking back on your separation 5 years from now, and you feel it went well, what does that look like? What happened?