Separating is never easy, but it can be amicable. Whether you’re the receiver of the news that your relationship is over, or the initiator, the end of a relationship is a difficult process to navigate.
Kate Daley, Co-founder of amicable, shares her tips for keeping things amicable when it’s decided that your relationship is over.
1. Is your relationship definitely over?
It’s really important to understand the difference between a ‘bad patch’ and a complete breakdown. Research shows that if there’s criticism, contempt, defensiveness, and stonewalling, it’s probably beyond repair. Evaluate the relationship as a whole rather than the latest row or event.
2. Don’t go through relationship counselling for the sake of it
The only way relationship counselling or couples therapy will work, is if you both feel as though the relationship can be saved and you have a desire to make it work. If this is the case, then counselling is a great way to repair the relationship.
However, if one of you is sure your relationship is over, then going through the motions for the sake of ticking a box won’t help.
If you decide things are over, then individual therapy to help heal or counselling to get you to a place where you can part respectfully and can co-parent, is well worth the investment.
The key is to be clear about the purpose of the therapy – repair vs part respectfully.
3. Be patient with each other
If you’re the initiator, try to be patient with how your partner is feeling. They are probably a long way behind you on The Change Curve. Rushing them will likely slow things down and may lead to some tricky negotiations. The instigator has often been contemplating the split for some time. The receiver of the news needs time to process that the relationship is over and to start the grieving process. Being ‘ready’ to move forward will help you both move on in a positive way and give you a much better shot at being amicable co-parents.
4. Think about how you communicate
It’s crucial to think about how you’re communicating with each other. This is tricky, especially if communication is one of the contributing factors to the breakdown of your relationship.
You will need to relearn a successful way of communicating issues and resolving differences so that you can make necessary arrangements.
This will help in forming a strategy and method of communication that works for you both. Putting communication on a slightly more formal footing will help create some much-needed distance and redefine your new relationship as exes.
Important things to remember:
- Don’t interrupt one another
- Treat each other with respect, use ‘I’ statements (vs you make me feel…)
- Take a break if things are getting heated.
5. Don’t rush off to solicitors
If you’re married and want to start your divorce, it can be tempting to go straight to solicitors, especially in a heated moment. Try and resist this urge. Solicitors give you individual advice and that can polorise negotiations and lead to more conflict. It’s important to pick the right process for sorting things out. There are lots of avenues to explore and places to go if your marriage or relationship has broken down and you need help sorting things out including amicable.
Kate Daly is a BACP relationship counsellor. She’s a member of the British Psychological Society and Resolution trained Family Consultant. She’s also Co-founder of amicable.
amicable is a legal services company that specialises in supporting couples through both the legal process and the emotional journey of divorce and separation. You can book a free 15-minute call with amicable if you are looking for advice and support.
For more expert advice on relationships, solo parenting, dating and more, check out our blog here.