Imagine being in a business with a partner with whom you no longer get along. You understand that your and your family’s financial well-being and security are based on the successful manufacturing of your product. Imagine also that you take tremendous pride in the quality of your product which you believe is of great benefit to all who use it. Would you destroy the business, or undermine the quality of your product, your baby, that you conceived and nurtured because of the problems in your relationship with your partner? I would hope not.
The analogy to trying to live with a partner from whom you would rather separate or divorce, but with whom you have a child should be fairly obvious. Keeping in mind that the current living situation is temporary, you and your partner can put together a plan that allows the business (parenting) to continue and allows the product (child) to thrive.
To do so, you need to negotiate a business plan that outlines the roles and responsibilities of each partner with respect to the children. Then, you need to keep all conversations and communication focused on issues related to the roles, responsibilities, and product. As in business, be focused on your jobs, and set specific, circumscribed times to discuss issues that arise secondary to your roles and responsibilities. Make an agreement that within the close quarters of the home, personal business, i.e. business not related to parenting, is to be discussed separately and away from the children. Agreeing upfront to stick to a business relationship at this time will go a long way to helping and your children avoid damaging personal conflicts.
Arnie Shienvold is a psychologist/forensic evaluator/mediator licensed in Pennsylvania, Connecticut, and Ohio. Arnie is the past president of the Academy of Family Mediators, the Association for Conflict Resolution and the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts. His time is divided between doing forensic evaluations, psychotherapy, mediation, parenting coordination, and teaching.
image by hans peter gauster – unsplash.com