Separating from a partner

After a marriage or significant relationship breakup it may seem as if nothing in your life is stable: your home, your finances, your routines can all be turned upside down.

You may feel as if you don’t even know yourself anymore and be worrying about the impacts of the breakup on your children, extended family members and your friendships.

It often takes more time than we want to recover from the emotional pain of separation, so try to be patient with yourself.

But it’s important to know that there are ways of working through the practical and emotional adjustments to this major life event and you can learn strategies that can help you establish a fresh start.


Recovering emotionally after separation

1. Acceptance

It is normal to have a range of strong emotions, and they are often quite surprising to us during times of significant change.

Try to accept your feelings, even if you don’t like them.

Sometimes just observing what your emotions are can help to take the sting out of them.

For example, saying to yourself “I notice I feel guilty” is more helpful than “I am guilty”.

2. Manage expectations

Don’t expect to manage your normal daily load as efficiently during this time. When we are stressed, we do not retain information as well, or cope well with high demands. We can be irritable, prone to forgetfulness and experience feelings of confusion and doubt. During a separation you may also feel tired or exhausted and your sleep patterns may change. It is normal to feel as if you are struggling, so it’s important to give yourself a break. Be realistic about what you can achieve and give yourself time to make decisions, it’s hard to see choices clearly when you are overwhelmed with intense feelings.

3. Talk things through

Talk to friends and family members you can confide in.

Don’t go it alone.

Many people (men and women) work through relationship breakdowns much more effectively if they attend courses to learn about managing emotions, parenting after separation or about positive ways to move on to be a healthier, wiser and stronger person.

You may also like to attend personal counselling to help you come to terms with the breakdown.

4. Look after your health

Eat healthy foods, drink plenty of water, establish routines that are easy to maintain and try to get some exercise every day.

These activities will help your body manage the emotional upheaval and ease feelings of stress.

Avoid using alcohol, drugs or food to help you cope.

Trying to dull the pain this way can lead to more problems.

Take notice of your habits and ensure you are not slipping into any destructive patterns.

It is far better to reach out to others for help at this time than struggle alone.

5. Seek further support

Make sure you ask the correct people for the help you need.

Your family and friends can be wonderful social supports, but any legal or financial questions are best directed at appropriate professionals.

If you are worried your grief or sadness or anger is not improving over time, don’t hesitate to discuss your emotional state with your doctor.

He or she may not prescribe anything for you, but it’s always a good idea to have your doctor informed if you are in doubt about your mental health.

6. Rebuild

When things begin to settle, find new interests and outlets for friendships.

A relationship breakdown can often mean that you lose connections and friendships (even if sometimes only for the short term).

This is an opportunity for you to finally go to that art class, take up a new interest and find some new faces to be around.

Often it’s hard to get the motivation, but if you can push through any resistance you might feel and do it anyway, you may be well rewarded!