How to talk to your partner about an amicable separation when you’re the initiator
When you have decided your relationship is over and you’re prepared to move on, one of the biggest frustrations we hear from people is that their partner is just not ready or willing to discuss the options for sorting things out.
In this blog, we look at tips for keeping things amicable when you’re the initiator of the separation and want to discuss how to start your divorce and move things forward. We’ll detail tips for helping your partner understand the amicable options available to them without feeling pushed into a corner.
Step one: Separate the conversations of ‘this is over’ and ‘I want to keep the house’
You need to be sure your relationship is definitely over before you engage in conversations about selling houses, looking after children or splitting pensions. If you’re still not sure whether your relationship is over, or if it’s turned into a ‘situationship’ you should work this out before telling your partner you want to separate.
If you’ve made the decision to separate, the next step is telling your partner, you can read our advice on this or listen to this podcast episode. It’s important to have a conversation to convey that for you the relationship is over. This should not be in the middle of an argument. State clearly and unequivocally that you no longer want to continue in the relationship. You’ll need to allow this conversation to settle - you may have been thinking about this for months or years - it may be a shock to your partner.
"Don’t rush into having a conversation about how to separate finances and sort out children arrangements."
These are conversations for another day. If your partner asks, just gently say that you are committed to finding a workable solution to all their concerns and that you'd like to agree on the right process to explore all options when the time is right.
Step two: Give your partner space and time
If you’re the initiator, you’ve had more time to process the raw emotions around ending your relationship. This is a double-edged sword because it might mean you’re more eager to move forwards with formalising your separation and sorting things out like money and property, but this also means that your partner may be in a very different emotional place on the healing curve and benefit from time and space.
Giving your partner time to digest the news that your relationship is over is important. This represents a significant change; they will need space to process their raw emotions. Make time to answer questions they may have. It’s quite normal and natural for them to want to know why you want to separate, be prepared to go over this with them.
People always ask, ‘how much time should I give my partner before I start to be more insistent that they engage in sorting things out?’. It’s impossible to put a timeframe on it.
It’s better to think about whether any progress is being made and whether for example, they have told anyone, they have sought any advice or are doing any internet research or seeing a counsellor. If nothing is changing and after three to six months there’s been no progress in how they are dealing with the raw emotions or their willingness to move forwards, they may need to seek therapeutic support to move through this and become ‘unstuck’.
Step three: Approach discussing professional help in a neutral way
If you’ve had an initial consultation with us and you want to separate in an amicable way, telling your partner your preferred way of separating might be challenging if they’ve not had a chance to explore the options available, or if you’re in a difficult place in terms of communication.
A good starting point would be sharing our free resources such as our podcast. This will give them a chance to form their own opinions before feeling cornered to agree with an approach. They can also book an exploratory call to understand the process and be able to ask their own questions.
Finally, once you’ve both had a chance to talk to a specialist, take advantage of a joint follow-up call to answer any final questions before getting started.
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