Dear Agony Aunt,
My husband of 25 years has told me he no longer loves me and wants to separate. I feel scared about my future and I don’t know what I should do first. Please give me some direction.
Scared and confused
Dear Scared and confused,
Separating from your long term partner can be a very difficult time for everyone involved. Feeling scared and confused are normal feelings to have at this time and you must give yourself a break, there is nothing wrong with feeling this way.
Practically there are number of things you can do in the early stages of separation to help you find direction.
- Above all be kind to yourself and to your spouse. Even though your husband has chosen to separate it can be a rough time for both of you. Is there the possibility of a reconciliation and can you explore the option of marriage counselling?
- Ensure you have a good support network around you. Family and friends can be a source of comfort and a shoulder to cry on.
- Record the date of your separation, to the day or if you cannot pin point an exact date, to the month when your husband communicated to you that he considered the marriage to be over. This date will be relevant to finalising your financial property settlement and to apply for a divorce.
- As your husband initiated the separation, he may have already given a lot of thought as to how your separation will work, but issues such as who will (at least initially) remain living in the matrimonial home and how bills will be paid need to be considered. Very importantly if you have children under the age of 18 years at home, you will need to determine how you will continue to share in the care arrangements for your children.
- Seek legal advice as soon as possible, even a once off advice session will provide you with guidance as to the process and laws surrounding separation and make separation less daunting. Your lawyer can also help lessen your load at this time, such as assisting you in initiating processes to finalise your property settlement and deal with other practical issues that you may find too overwhelming to deal with at this time.
- Reach out and get advice from other sources. Your accountant, your GP and your marriage counsellor can also give you direction at this time.
It may seem obtuse to say now but there will come a time when you will find that you have managed to successfully navigate through your separation and come out with a fresh and promising new direction.