Have you noticed that since you’ve mentioned you and your partner are separating that everyone and their dog suddenly seems to know EXACTLY WHAT YOU SHOULD DO?!
I hear it in conversations and see it online all the time. It usually starts with “You know what you should do?” Followed by the answer to what is clearly a rhetorical question because they already have the answer for you.
All of this advice is well-intentioned. People just want to help you get through this. The problem with a lot of the advice is that it is inaccurate or doesn’t apply to your situation. On top of that, the information is coming from the perspective of that person’s life experience. Maybe they had a really difficult separation and they still harbour a lot of negative feelings about it. Or maybe they went through a relatively amicable split and everything was quick and easy.
The point is that your situation is unique. When figuring out what to do you need to look at what is important to you. What are your goals? What do you need when all is said and done? What do your kids need? And even, what does your partner need? It’s all good and well to know what your rights are and what you are entitled to but it’s not uncommon for that to not necessarily be what you NEED.
When I’m working with clients we really focus on identifying needs. I do this by helping them look to the future. What do you want the future to look like? And with that in mind, what decisions and agreements do you need to make now to make that happen?
It’s easy, and very normal in these situations, to get bogged down in rehashing the past. You can probably come up with a list of a million reasons why you’re right and your ex-partner is wrong. And I can guarantee your ex has a list just as long. But that kind of thinking isn’t going to get you anywhere. And ultimately, both you and your kids will pay the price now and in the future for decisions that were made out of fear, anger and bad advice.
So thank your friends and family for their well-meaning suggestions. And then put it aside and figure out what YOU need in your specific situation based on your values, hopes and dreams…not theirs.