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Separated but together: life in lockdown with your ex

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As we move into a second national lockdown, spare a thought for people caught in a very modern dilemma: those still living under the same rooves as their ex-partners. They will have to continue doing so for at least another four weeks.

Yes, it’s not unknown for couples who have separated or divorced to continue sharing a roof for a while if money is in short supply or they simply need a little time to find somewhere else to live – and of course it helps if they can still stand the sight of each other! But not so long ago, most such couples have jobs which took them out of the home for at least part of the day and they could travel freely at other times too. Not so if they have been caught out by the sudden introduction of a national lockdown: unless one half of the former couple works in an essential industry, they will be stuck at home with each other for most of the day and for weeks on end. Lockdown is already a strange situation: how do you navigate the additional stress of being stuck at home with your ex?

Don’t talk about why

That might sound like counterintuitive advice: how could you not talk about the reasons your marriage or cohabitation broke down, when the other person is right there or just in the next room? But however tempting, it might be a good idea to keep things light while lockdown lasts. Avoid touchy topics and instead confine your conversations to every day matters. If you save the relationship post-mortems until you or they have been able to move out you will cut the risk of unnecessary arguments and tension. You don’t need a bad atmosphere in lockdown: especially if you have children.

Keep a calm head

If you find yourself struggling over the next few weeks, explore the different ways to manage stress. Meditation works for some people – and there are many easy-to-use smartphone apps that will guide you through calming visualisations and breathing exercises. Mindfulness involves calm absorption in some aspect of the present moment – for example, your breathing – and is a particularly popular contemporary form of meditation.

If meditation is not for you, the alternatives include something as simple as a daily walk. Fresh air and some alone time can be very restorative and provide valuable perspective. Meanwhile, indoor exercise will provide a rush of mood-boosting endorphins and burn off nervous energy.

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Keep busy

If you are working from home, you may be no less rushed off your feet in lockdown than when you were in the office. But if you are one of the many who have been furloughed and you suddenly have some time on your hands, find ways to keep busy. Pursue a hobby, be creative: write a novel, learn to paint, give your garden a makeover. Having an outlet for your energies will give you less time to think about relationship troubles.

Focus on the future

Lockdown won’t last forever. The days and weeks will pass quickly. The stress and resentment you may feel today about having your ex under your feet will soon be a memory.

There is a real need for you to plan for the future. To get help and advice around taking your first step, please get in touch by calling 01661 824582 or by emailing us at enquiries@majorfamilylaw.co.uk. We offer you a free 45-minute consultation and can help guide you towards your future life and the day that you can walk out that door.

Image by Timo Newton-Syms via Flickr (Creative Commons)


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