Staying together but living apart. It's nearly life after divorce but is it a good idea?

A long time ago in the mists of last century a relationship status was easy to define.  You were either, single, married or divorced.  It was clear cut, everyone knew where you were and indeed, where they were.

How different things are now
Changing patterns of relationships have made these definitions no longer relevant.  For example many couples who feel their relationship is at an end cannot afford to divorce.  The financial consequences are too dire on top of the emotional trauma of breaking up the family.  They cannot face the confrontational nightmare of the divorce process so they find themselves in a position where they don't want to break up the family but have agreed they are no longer a functioning couple.

A possible solution is to stay living in the same house whilst attempting to live separate lives.  This avoids the pain and financial deprivations of the divorce process and appears to have the great advantage of both parents being able to continue to bring up their children together in the family home.  Sounds like a good plan where everybody wins.

Practical considerations
Well probably not.  The practicalities of this situation are formidable.  The pitfalls are numerous and the consequences often negative and long term.  From a purely practical point of view splitting your lives in two could only physically work if you have a large house with two bathrooms, probably four bedrooms (depending on the children you have and their ages) and enough living rooms for each to have their own space.  Not many families have that.  Even if you do then what are the consequences for your children and for you?

two houses next doorIs this a good idea for the kids?
The effect this arrangement will have upon your kids is by far the most important aspect to consider.  I recently read an article in a newspaper where a separated couple were living in the same house with their young son.  They did everything separately and spent all their time having rows.  Despite all this the mother maintained that their son did not realise that mummy and daddy were not together.

This is a whole lot more like self justification than objective reality.  Of course their son was aware of the dysfunctional nature of home life.  Kids are very perceptive they can pick up on the stressed atmosphere (not to mention the continuous rowing) between their parents and would be aware that their parents were not sleeping in the same room and never eating or doing anything else together.

This experience is likely to have serious long term effects upon children who will have lived in an atmosphere of stress, hostility and resentment with two warring parents.  How's that as a role model for their future adult relationships?

Is this a good idea for you?
Apart from the practical considerations of physical space this is a very high risk strategy.  The effect upon the children could be catastrophic despite your best intentions and selfless efforts.

Living together but apart is a bit like living in a country that has been divided into two parts as happened to Germany after the Second World War.  It proved to be an unequal division, there was enormous hostility between East and West Germany and it did not work.  In the end they reunited and it has worked well since then.

If you stay in the same house after there is no hope of reconciliation and repair of your relationship then you will never be able to rebuild your life and your family's.  You will all be trapped in a deeply tragic situation to which divorce is unfortunately the only answer.

What about a new life after divorce, perhaps a new relationship?  It's not going to happen.  There will be no space either emotional or physical.  Do you really want your ex to run in to your lover cleaning his/her teeth in the bathroom on a Sunday morning?  Make the break, it is not easy but it will give you all the chance of a new start and a better life after divorce.

Follow Us

Back to top