Every relationship has its struggles and conflicts. Sometimes, those struggles are difficult to overcome and a couple makes the difficult decision to end their relationship, either mutually or one of the parties decides to leave. Whether you are the one who left or the one who was left, entering a period of separation brings about many changes that can be difficult to navigate.
When a separation occurs, there are multiple layers of things going on all at once. Not only are we trying to process and heal from the relationship ending but, if children are involved then we have to help them navigate changes as well all the while trying to negotiate a fair and equitable arrangement with the ex-partner. And if children are involved, developing some sort of co-parenting arrangement that works for everyone while still trying to process and heal from the separation and loss. It is a complex season full of ups and downs.
To begin with, self care is fundamentally important. Taking care of your emotional, physical and mental needs are crucial if you want to navigate this season well. We have a tendency to focus on others around us rather than ourselves but the reality is, if we’re no good to us then we’re no good to anyone else either. How can we possibly help our children process their grief if we aren’t processing ours?
Ensuring you have adequate support, people that can help and that you trust to listen to you is a good first step. Maintaining a positive, respectful and assertive approach with the other party is also fundamentally important. Regardless of what they’re doing…we are always in control of our behaviour.
There are several services available that can assist you in this season. Parenting after Separation is a free, 3-hour program offered by Oakhill Counselling & Mediation Services in Abbotsford and Chilliwack on behalf of the Ministry of Justice of BC. It provides basic information about terms, legal process and options available as well as education about what parents and children are experiencing during the separation process.
The Family Justice Centre is another resource that most communities have. They offer mediation services to separating parents but will only mediate for parenting related issues. Other topics such as asset and liability division will need to be done through a lawyer or mediator. They also offer a list of community resources that can be helpful in this season.
Finally, counselling can also be very helpful. At Oakhill, our qualified professionals provide the space you need to explore and process feelings about the separation and will work with you to develop a new sense of self that is confident and positive.
While separation can be difficult, there are people ready and willing to help you through this difficult season. If you need more information, please don’t hesitate to reach out to Oakhill Counselling & Mediation Services. We are more than happy to help. That’s the Oakhill Advantage.