Too long a timeframe, or a vague one—weeks, sometime in the next couple of months—will leave them feeling anxious and wondering whether you’ve changed your mind, or what they need to do to change it.
What do you say? Say what you know. It is not appropriate and even harmful to do a diatribe about all your complaints about the relationship. This only leaves kids feeling confused, feeling like they have to take sides, or feeling like that need to take care of you—all not good.
What kids most care about, even teens is what is going to change in their world—focus on them. How and when will they see you? Are they going to go to the same school?
Let them know what you know without dragging them into adult issues. Ideally, map out this discussion together with your partner so that they get the same message. If you can’t, map out your own and do your best to mop up and clarify later.
6. Decide on the rules of engagement with your partner.
What are your ideas about children and visiting? What kind of contact do you want to have with your partner—daily phone check-ins regarding the children, weekly dates, no contact at all?
Here you want to go proactive rather than being reactive. Start with the ideal, and then decide on your bottom lines, what you are willing to negotiate. Map this out so that in your desire to leave or because of your guilt, you don’t just accept what your partner offers. Here your legal advice can provide guidelines.
7. Line up support.
This is probably the most important step. Families can be supportive—your brother takes you in—or not. They may be critical of your decision; they may feel torn between you and your partner and feel caught in the middle; they, too, worry about the kids.
Decide who and what you want to say, but also find family and friends who truly are in your corner and can offer you the emotional support and guidance you will need. Consider finding a therapist if you don’t already have one.
Separation is never an easy step to take, but with the right preparation, you will be able to move through this transition successfully.
Not every relationship is meant to stand the test of time, and no matter how much it hurts, following these pointers before you separate can indeed make the whole process a bit easier. Before you separate, keep in mind that these factors can decide to a large extent what kind of an equation you will end up having with your partner. Try to deal with everything in a healthy way, so that there are no further complications.