My husband often tells me that I try and start conversations late at night when it’s bedtime. He’s right. I don’t know why I do it, but it seems all the things I didn’t say during the day – but intended to speak to him about – congregate at the forefront of my mind ready to spill out, and sometimes I want him to make decisions about something we need to do.
By that point, he is so tired he won’t properly hear anything I have to say and I know any discussion won’t be productive. So I write myself a note or send myself a message or email and store it for the next day. Sometimes simply writing the note brings me the solution, or by the time we talk about it, I have more information for the discussion – so it is rarely a bad thing.
We have three small humans under 5 and across six days of the week my husband and I both work full-time. Finding the time for conversation, without the small humans, can be tricky. Sundays tend to be the easiest day for any serious discussions and planning that need to take place.
When you and your spouse are trying to discuss and negotiate your separation, you want to make sure the conversations will be constructive and productive. So, pick the time of day that is best for both of you – it’s not ideal if one of you is a morning person and the other is not – if you can’t function without coffee, at least have a coffee before any serious conversations.
If one of you is not a night owl and the other one is – late night discussions probably won’t be that productive either.
Make an appointment. Set an agenda.
Consider it this way, you wouldn’t walk into your boss’s office, without warning, and expect to have a serious and productive discussion about your monthly and yearly budget or the future of your position in the company, right? If you catch your boss off guard, there’s probably a great chance the outcome of that discussion won’t be what you were hoping for.
It’s the same approach to take with your spouse when you separate. Recognising and remembering you most likely have different ways of hearing and processing information to make decisions is important too, and so if you are a quick decision maker and your spouse is not, give them time to consider the discussion before making a decision.
If you are struggling to find time, you may need to make it, just like an appointment with your dentist or doctor – particularly for those really important discussions about your family and finances. Set a time for the meeting, a length for the meeting and let your spouse know what you want to talk about.
Setting an agenda, if you will, also helps set boundaries about what you are prepared to talk about (which can be useful at times like this).
Walk and talk.
If sitting face to face anywhere is too confronting, see if you can agree to walk around a quiet park together so you are walking while you talk.
It’s okay to pause the conversation.
And even then, with all the planning and preparation, if the discussion becomes too emotional, you may need to pause that conversation – give yourselves time to recollect your thoughts and try again. This is such a significant event in your life. It will take some time to adjust.
Patience will be necessary.
It will also take some (okay.. a lot of) patience. And I well understand that by this point patience with your spouse may be something you are short on. To that I say, you have made it this far, keep your patience in check a little longer and when you look back on this period in 6 or 12 months time, you will be glad you did.
You might find these small things go a long way to reaching and/or maintaining an amicable separation – minimizing the long-term financial and emotional costs of your separation.