When people decide to separate, one person doesn't just move out the next day. That would be ideal, wouldn't it? Because most people who decide to separate feel like they need space and desperately need to be away from their spouse (hence the term, separation). But the reality is, because of all the uncertainty, as well as financial issues, there is a period of time when a couple is living in the same house while newly separated, and it is beyond difficult.
Fortunately for some, it's only a few weeks before one person gets their own place. For others, it can take months or years before they begin living apart. I have a friend who lived in the same house with her ex while separated for 4 years!! I can't even imagine.
Usually during this time, one of the people is sleeping in a different room, there are no conversations between the couple, things seem almost creepy, like you are living with a stranger, and everyone is walking on eggshells. It's a very stressful, uncomfortable environment. And think of what a toll that probably takes on the kids!
I hate to say this to people living in the same house while newly separated, but here it is. It is what it is (for right now.) It's really, really hard. I get it. But, the good news is, it isn't forever, and both you and your ex are taking steps to each get to a better place in life.
A couple pieces of advice:
During this time, many people become disapproving regarding how their newly separated ex is behaving. Maybe she's going out every night. Maybe she's neglecting your child. Maybe he's never around. Or, maybe he's acting rude to you in front of your kids.
Unfortunately, when you get separated, you don't get a say in how your ex chooses to behave. It's a crazy time, and people don't behave as they normally would. I know it can be frustrating and infuriating, but that's just reality. My advice is to focus on your own behavior, as well as raising your children the best you can. That is what you can control. What your soon-to-be ex chooses to do is his or her own business.
The other thing that happens is that the two people living in the same house, basically as strangers, tend to just go up to their room (or the guest room), close the door and watch TV for the night, not wanting to be around their ex.
I think that can be unhealthy, and that both people should consider going out a little bit, seeing friends and having a good time. I'm not saying go out every night and get drunk. I'm suggesting that you enjoy being social and leaning on your friends. That to me is a lot more appealing than being isolated in the guest room. This is a good time for the two of you to come up with a parenting schedule (just while living in the same house).
In closing, living in the same house while separated really can be torturous. Just be polite to your ex as best you can, not just for your kids' sake, but for YOUR sake. People always feel better about themselves when they take the high road. Remember that. And, remember that it will end. I promise!
Jackie Pilossoph is the author of her blog, Divorced Girl Smiling, and the comedic divorce novels, Divorced Girl Smiling and Free Gift With Purchase. She also writes feature stories, along with the weekly dating and relationships column, "Love Essentially" for Sun-Times Media local publications. Pilossoph lives in Chicago. Oh, and she's divorced.