Paula Phelan is a Family Lawyer with Specialist Accreditation in this area from the Queensland Law Society. She has been a lawyer for 21 years and is the director of Phelan Family Law, a Rockhampton legal firm specialising in Family Law only.
In my first column, I mentioned that the approach to family law issues would be a global one using the skills of other professionals to assist you along your journey.
This week Dr Vanessa Ghea from Rockhampton City Psychology talks about one of the reasons couples separate.
Thinking of separating?
There are three main reasons why couple separate – as a step in the divorce process; to gain perspective on the marriage; but also to enhance the marriage.
Rather than a means to an end, separation can at times be a helpful tool to stay together. This seems counterintuitive when a marriage is in trouble and relations are fragile.
Most of us believe that when we feel our spouse slipping away from us, we should merge more, get as close as we can, and do more to make the marriage work.
The thought of creating distance at such a time instils a great deal of fear of losing control of your spouse and your relationship.
This option is especially challenging if the bond between the two of you has been weakened by a betrayed trust.
But employed carefully and skilfully (and usually with professional support), separation can be quite effective in bringing two people close together.
If you or your partner are thinking about separation as a means of contemplating the longer-term relationship, consider the following:
Get Third-Party Support. Seeking neutral third party support can help facilitate an amicable separation. It can get tricky, especially if this is being done while there is currently some tension or problems between spouses. This can be a therapist, a mediator, or a skilled lawyer.
Have Clear and Reasonable Expectations. Ground rules are a must to maintain a sense of trust between the parties. If one person expects to communicate every day but the other doesn’t, this could cause hurt feelings. Knowing what to expect avoids this type of situation.
Know Your Goal. Don’t assume that you both have the same goal. You both really need to agree that your intention in living apart is to enhance your marriage.
Maintain Regular Communication. Having no contact at all for an extended period of time may actually begin to hurt the marital connection. Instead of an “Absence makes the heart grow fonder” mentality, it may end up being, “Out of sight, out of mind”.
It is important to create a team around you that cares for all areas of your welfare during this difficult time.