Managing Relationship Breakdowns

January is the month of relationship breakdowns it seems.  After the pressures of Christmas, time as a family and together for longer periods of time, the expectation of smiling, happy, contented families is a myth – albeit one that most people buy into.

So, come January – the cold, wet days, the back to work dread and the return of daily pressures – be that financial, confidence, workloads and school runs on top – the cold, hard truth is clearly apparent.  “We just aren’t happy together anymore” or “I’m don’t feel the same about you any longer” and “things have changed …(for the worse)”

A new year.  A new you.  A change in …everything, often includes you not being able to bear another year of boredom, pain, confusion or loneliness within your relationship and you decide to move and move out.

It’s a difficult time, a sad time even if it will be for the best, and often, considerations of the impact on wider family members like children, parents, siblings and in laws.

The painful process of discussions, possibly relationship counselling or coaching to improve communication between you, and the sorting out practical issues like houses and bank accounts, child-care and contact all raise their ugly heads and just will no longer be ignored!

So how to manage it

1.Communicate like you never have before! Talk about the painful bits that need to be discussed – it won’t go away, it needs to be managed by you both.

2. Find support from friends and family (eventually, if not at the decision point) – even just an honest response to “How are you?” meets with ‘not so great right now, there’s a lot on my mind’ can elicit the support you need without disclosing details at this point.

3. Sit down and give yourself space to write down your hopes, your needs, your wishes and your future ideas for your future. Who has the children when? How to split the house? What you want in future (when this relationship is no longer possible)?

4. Talk to people, discuss your options – try not to believe you can do it all alone, manage the various options without input and consultation, and find out your various options and maybe even opportunities

5. Manage the emotions – this is grieving process. You have lost the person, lost the comfort of a relationship, lost the family (tribe) where you belonged and the routines (structure) that go with that, good or bad.

These include:

  • Denial (counselling, coaching, discussion)
  • Bargaining (if only I had/had not ..)
  • Anger (blame, angry at not seeing or managing the problems)
  • Depression (healing process of working through the above stresses that you can’t maintain)
  • Acceptance (moving on, planning ahead, moving out, making changes

6. Re-building new relationships with the same people – partner, children, in-laws, parents and siblings, friendships which may be shared.

7. Practical issues like work and home commutes, where the children move to, how to keep in touch with your ex when you have to have contact for the children or the house sale.

8. Re-building your self-image as a ‘single’ person again, at least for a period.

9. Building new relationships if that was part of the break-up issue, in light of being ‘free’ soon

10. Developing yourself into the person you want to become. Not as part of a new relationship or the old, but an independent person who will build a new lifestyle out of the changes – someone who will find the right future relationships they want and need, and taking advantage of the new perspectives this will and has brought you.

There are benefits.   There is pain for a while….

There will be future happiness.  Following the change and growth …

There are new opportunities and new options ahead of you both and a new, different relationship that will be better for you long term, leaving you free to find someone who better fits into your life then.