Mt Lawley Counselling Centre, Perth - Western AustraliaMt Lawley Counselling Centre, Perth - Western Australia

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Thinking of Separating?

Rebecca Lyon

Psychologist
Perth, Western Australia

Deciding to end a relationship with your significant other can be an extremely difficult decision. If you are unhappy in your relationship and considering leaving your partner this article will cover some of the questions you can consider.

Have you discussed your thoughts about your relationship with your partner?

Discussing your relationship discontent with your partner in a productive manner is a positive first step. This conversation may feel uncomfortable but no relationship will have a chance of improving unless the two parties can communicate effectively about their dissatisfaction. Set aside some time with your partner to discuss the state of your relationship and what you could both do to get it back on track. This is also an opportune time to attend relationship counselling with a trained practitioner who can support you through this process by coaching you to communicate effectively and teach you skills to improve your relationship.

Options to improve your relationship

Options include individual or couples counselling, reading literature on the subject of relationships, engaging in personal development activities or committing as a couple to actively improve your relationship by setting some concrete goals. Often one member of the couple can be reluctant to attend relationship counselling and this is when individual sessions may be beneficial. During these sessions, the member who wants to attend couples counselling can discuss their concerns and obtain advice about how to communicate the importance of counselling to their partner.

Is domestic violence an issue in the relationship?

Violence in an intimate or family relationship is a sign that the relationship is in crisis. It should be taken seriously and professional assistance should be sought. Domestic violence can be perpetrated by males and females and occurs in both heterosexual and same sex relationships. Examples of behaviours that constitute family violence include;

  • Physical assault such as pushing, shoving, destroying belongings, and a lack of consideration for physical comfort.
  • Sexual assault including forced sexual contact, rape, and forcing sex acts with others.
  • Using intimidation such as smashing things, handling of weapons, intimidating body language, and hostile questioning.
  • Emotional abuse such as behaviour that undermines confidence, humiliation, threats to harm the victim, their friends or family members, take children or commit suicide.
  • Verbal abuse including screaming, shouting, put-downs or name calling.
  • Controlling partners' behaviour. For example, dictating what the partner does, who they see, who they talk to and where they go.
  • Financial abuse such as taking full control of all the finances, spending and decisions about money so the victim is financially dependent on their partner.

What changes would occur were you to separate?

The changes involved in ending a relationship are varied and need to be considered carefully. These changes may affect other relationships such as those with your children, friends and other family members. Other transitions include parenting roles, where you live, lifestyle, emotional and financial security, identity, routines, roles and future plans. It is beneficial to consider these consequences in order to plan the separation effectively.

How will the separation affect your children?

If you have children it is wise to consider how a separation will affect them. Things to consider is their age, how much they will understand developmentally about the separation, how to explain the separation to them in an age appropriate way, whether there will be shared care and how this will be managed and who will remain in the family home. Research shows that it is not the separation itself that affects childrens wellbeing but the way the separation is managed and the level of conflict. Children from families that separate amicably with low conflict adjust better psychologically than those from high conflict families. If you and your partner are unable to come to an agreement regarding care of your children then a mediation process with a trained professional may be necessary.

Have you seen a legal professional to discuss your circumstances?

Prior to separating it can be worthwhile to speak with a lawyer trained in Family Law matters. A lawyer will be able to discuss the legal ramifications of your separation and the process involved in separation and divorce.

If you are thinking of separating from your partner and would like the opportunity to talk through this decision please contact Rebecca on 0438 920 056 or rebeccalyon12@gmail.com.

If this article was of interest for you and you would like some assistance with creating a meaningful life please contact Rebecca on 0438 920 056 or rebeccalyon12@gmail.com.

Rebecca Lyon
Psychologist

Mt Lawley Counselling Centre
13 Alvan Street
Mt Lawley Western Australia 6050

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