Separating Lives Isn’t Easy
The daunting task of separating lives and eradicating your Ex from yours so you can move on seems never-ending. As soon as you think you’ve covered everything, you find out he’s still your emergency contact on your medical forms, which would be very inconvenient if something happened to you. Spouses are often so intermingled in many or most of the other’s life domains that it’s a massive undertaking to reclaim your identity and your life.
We’ve compiled a list of the most commonly intermingled areas to help make the job of separating lives go a little easier.
Joint Bank Accounts
If you have a divorce attorney, they will provide you with guidance regarding joint accounts and dividing and protecting assets. It’s a good idea to open an account in your own name during your divorce, but there’s lots of red tape, so make sure to follow your lawyer’s advice on this.
Establishing your own credit is crucial. Separating lives means separating credit, which can be good in some ways, and bad in others, especially if many of your loans were primarily or exclusively in your Ex’s name. Women find it difficult to obtain credit in their own name after divorce, particularly those who put their careers on hold to care for their families.
Get your Ex’s name off the mortgage/lease/title if you are keeping the home or car. Do the same for you if you are moving out: make sure you’ve taken your name off all of these things, or you’ll be legally responsible for anything that happens there.
You’ll need to make sure he is off your health insurance, life insurance, auto, etc. If you were on his, you’ll need to get your own. Same goes for your homeowners, renters, and car insurance (and that you’re off anything he keeps). Financial advisors can often facilitate these changes, but make sure you’re working with someone accredited and who has strong referrals.
Ensure he is not your emergency contact on your health insurance, passport, hospitals, work records, or anywhere else – unless you want your doctor’s office to call him when you pass out at your next blood draw.
Seeing that last name on everything is a constant reminder of your Ex. As long as you’re separating lives, why not change your name? It can feel very freeing, and if you do it right away, it will be free! Parents may opt not to do this right away for the sake of the kids or to avoid confusion. You can always do it later.
Wills, Including Living Wills
You will likely need to update your will, and it’s recommended that you do this right away. Often, people list their spouses by name in their will, and the last thing you’d want is to leave your money and family heirlooms to your Ex. This also goes for living wills and medical or general power-of-attorney: get him off these ASAP. Make sure you understand how to make these official by checking your state laws (e.g., whether notarization is satisfactory).
Check your life insurance and any other documents where you Ex may have been listed as your beneficiary, and change it. A financial advisor can help you with this.
Family & Mutual Friends
A divorce ultimately affects all of your relationships. Your mutual friends may feel as if they have to choose (and they may even be asked to do so). Separating lives often means separating family. You may sever ties with your Ex’s family members that you have grown close with, and/or you may not want your Ex to keep in touch with your family. These are all things you’ll have to consider and discuss the best way to go forward with your Ex, your friends, and family openly. Counselors and divorce support groups can be helpful in disentangling the people in your lives.
Your mutual interests are part of why you fell for each other to begin with. Divorcing doesn’t mean your interests change, however, and that can make things tricky. If you’re both passionate about exercising, you could run into each other at your gym. Tuesday night bowling league could get super awkward, too. It can be helpful for divorced couples to talk about this openly: you may choose different gyms or bowl on different nights, for example. It’s also important to consider how you’ll deal with running into him. If it’s going to send you into a tailspin or a rage, it’s best to avoid places you’re likely to see him. You may find some great new venues or hobbies that steer clear of your Ex.
While this may be hard to hear as you’re separating lives, people become more and more alike the more time they spend together. In fact, brain research shows that habits, mannerisms, and even facial expressions are contagious, especially among people who spend a lot of time together. While those mirror neurons are amazing at kindling relationships, the habits we form based on them are a pain in the ass when we’re doing our best not to remember our Ex. Whether it’s expressions he uses, ways he did things, or anything else that you’ve picked up over the years, identify these little reminders so that you can work on cutting them out.
You used to shop at that grocery store together. That park is where you fell off the swing and he picked you up and carried you all the way home. The church where you got married. Landmines. These landmines will blow up in your face when you least expect it. How will you react? Create an action plan for recovery so you don’t have to avoid the entire city. You can call a friend, focus on your breathing, or notice your feet walking on the ground to bring you back into the present and off Memory Lane. These moments are frequent in the beginning, but they don’t have to last long if you don’t let them.
Untangling from Him Helps You Rediscover Yourself
While separating lives in these ways isn’t easy, it ultimately frees you from being bound to your relationship – so you can move on. If you want more advice on dealing with your Ex, explore some of these articles.
As you go through this process, you will become more and more yourself, ready to lead your own life on your own terms. We’re here for you as you do it.