Can We Continue to Live in the Same House if We’re Separated?”
There are actually some pretty compelling reasons why couples decide to give it a try:
For the Children
Many couples feel guilty enough about their union not surviving, and to compound their guilt by disrupting their children’s lives is a step they’re not prepared to take. They stay together in the same house for appearance sake and continuity. If the kids are young enough, they might not even notice a change.
For Financial Reasons
For many couples, financial stress is at the root of their marital problems. The thinking is, if they’re having a hard time managing one household, how could they possibly manage two?
Out of Stubbornness
One of the worst reasons to continue living together is stubbornness. If it start’s with, “You leave!” No. You leave!,” it’s likely to not end well. Think War of the Roses.
Waiting for Division of Property Agreement
Don’t get too comfortable living in limbo. If you’ve decided to make it legal, get it done so both of you can move on.
Tips to Help Make it Work:
If There are Children, Clearly Define Parenting Responsibilities
Ideally, you’ll be able to keep up appearances for the kids, but let’s face it – this is not an ideal situation. You may not be a couple any longer, but you’ll always be parents. In this new setting, there need to be ground rules about who picks up the kids, makes dinner, and helps with homework. The responsibilities will be split, not shared. There’s a difference.
Define and Agree to the Changes in Your Relationship
If young children aren’t an issue, make sure it’s understood that each of you can come and go as you please. Even if you agree that you can see other people, be discreet. If possible, wait until you have your own place.
Fix Parameters of Both Separate and Communal Space
If you home or apartment is big enough for each of you to have your own room, great. If not, maybe one of you needs to move to the living room couch or the basement. In a “poor man’s separation,” they separate the space with a blanket on a clothesline.
Agree to Who Has What Household Responsibilities/Bills
If you share a bathroom, make it clear how the cleaning is to be split. If you both cook, agree to clean up after yourself. Split the mortgage? Utilities? Credit cards? Until you get a division of property agreement, each of you will have to trust the other’s integrity.
What’s the goal?
Living together while separated is not an end unto itself. Are you waiting to see if the counseling will help? Is one of you saving up for their own place? Are you waiting until the end of the school year to take the next step? What’s the plan?