It came as quite a surprise to me to find that there seems to be a significant number of men living with their wife after separation and divorce. After speaking with a number of divorced men in real life and many more online in various forums, blogs, and via email it seems this phenomenon is quite widespread – if still not the norm. This prompted me to think a little more deeply on this topic of living with your wife after divorce and what the consequences of this might be.
I am going to hold off judgement on whether I think this is right or wrong until a little bit later. For the moment lets look at a few issues that surround this issue, and are consequences of it:
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Money: Many men I spoke to commented that it was simply about money. They could not afford to move out, or they could not afford to support their wife moving out. Money is always a major player in our minds when separation and divorce rears its ugly head and many guys focus on it almost exclusively as a way to keep things in perspective. Money becomes a central theme for some men and it gives them something to concentrate on and wrap their minds around while the more ambiguous emotions are left aside because they are too hard to deal with. While you can never dismiss the importance of money, it does sometimes become more of an issue that it really is – men should ask themselves the question, if they did have money, would they move out right away? If you hesitate then perhaps it is not really the money and you need to take a closer look.
Children: Another curly issue that comes up is of course children. How can either of you manage with kids when one moves out. Custody is a major issue here, but more importantly the safety, security and health of your children who are the innocent victims in this adult problem of separation and divorce. This is a tricky one and of course depends on custody laws and how far you are through getting s divorce. Amicable divorces might end up doing this for the sake of the children which might be a good thing, but if the divorce is not amicable – there might be more consequences of staying living together for the children than if one or the other moves out. A question to ask yourself might be what long term impact will the arguments, the lack of clarity and anxiety about the situation between their mom and dad. Are you doing what is best for your kids in this instance?
Attachment: For many men after separation and divorce, the real reason they do not move out is because of the attachment issues they still have with their ex-wife and their home. This is the real reason behind many guys choosing to live with their ex-wife. Some men even sit through enormous indignities such as their ex going out partying every night, flirting with other men on the phone in front of them – and in some very sick cases having to be present when their ex brings back a new boyfriend for the night (in one case the kids were also present which makes me very sad). Men who do this are often stuck in the stage of denial which is the first stage of grief where we cannot accept what is actually happening. In rare cases some men have gone through this – past the stage of anger – and end up in the bargaining stage. They are actually trying to somehow work out a deal to bring their marriage back (which never happens). I explain in more detail the stages of divorce in my e-book you can find by clicking here.
Pride & Stubborness: Another reason some guys do not move out is pride and/or being stubborn. Not wanting to move because they should and if they refuse this becomes a kind of passive aggressive action against their ex. Men doing this might be mired in the anger stage of divorce and are looking for nay way to express it without too much confrontation. A kind of Mexican stand off with their wife but never actually saying what they really want. This is quite rare though from my experience as this cannot last long before something breaks.
So should you live with your wife after separation or divorce?
At first I thought it was very strange and my mind instantly said no. From my experience and research this sort of proximity with the person you must end your relationship with causes until tension and problems. Emotional turmoil, arguments, hostility, and sometimes sexual encounters which can complicate things even further. It also, as has been mentioned, comes with a certain amount of humiliation for many guys whose ex wife does not respect their feelings or space. However, after thinking upon this and talking with some men my mind has been changed but only very slightly. If you are living with your wife (or ex-wife) after separation or divorce then there are only a very few select sets of circumstances where it might work out.
- It needs to be an amicable divorce without hostility
- If children are involved they need to be treated fairly and understand what is happening
- You must be doing this out of a sense of co-operation and not being mired in the early stages of divorce recovery.
- If money is the real issue, then you must be prepared to save up and work out better living arrangements as soon as possible.
Some Tips to Live With Your Ex After Divorce
Some further tips on how to create a stable living environment if you have to live with your ex wife after you are separated or divorced are needed because this can be an emotional minefield that you will have to navigate every day. Let take a look at a few things you can do:
- Separate sleeping arrangements that never meet are vital. NEVER sleep together or in the same room. Make sure you separate yourself and if possible both have beds, don’t have one person sleeping on a couch as this is a kind of humiliation that causes friction.
- Draft a living agreement that clearly states who will do what so there is no leftovers from your marriage about who used to do what. Make sure there will be no arguments or manipulation, just a document which outlines who will do what so there is no confusion.
- Make sure both of you have your own space. Following on from point one; you have to both feel comfortable in the house and not be stepping on each others toes all the time. Add this into the living agreement about times for bathrooms, when you have access to certain facilities and so forth.
- Schedule things. Make sure everything is planned so you know when you should be out for the night when she invites the girls around, and vice versa. Also make sure to schedule in times to talk about the divorce if it has not finished yet so that it is never ad hoc and happens when one party is angry, upset, or tired.
- If you are only waiting for a time that you or her can move out, make sure to keep to the schedule as well! Do not delay it!
You can only truly overcome and recover form divorce once you have the space to think and internalise all of the emotions and feelings that comes from a failed marriage. This can only be achieved after you stop living with your wife after separation. This is a process that can take some time and can be very destructive if you do not handle it right. This is why I wrote the Men After Divorce E-book and highly suggest you look into it if you are a guy struggling to cope after divorce.