Nadjia Jarrett, RN, MSN
So you’ve broken up, but you haven’t quite made a full separation yet. In fact, you’re still living under the same roof. Perhaps you are even thinking that you should get back together.
Breaking up and continuing to live with your ex is more common than you might think. This is especially so with all the fluctuations in the economy and job market in recent years. So, very commonly, there is a strong financial component to this situation.
Put simply, it can be expensive to break up when you’re living together. Sharing the expenses that are required to run a household makes life easier for both parties. Breaking up requires one person to move out, and both persons are essentially forced to double their expenses or dramatically constrain their lifestyle. If one or both partners are unemployed or underemployed, this only adds to the financial stress and difficulty. So you think maybe you should get back together. Following is how to know if getting back together is a good idea — or a disaster waiting to happen.
Factor in the Effects on Children and Your Peace of Mind
If there are children in the picture, a breakup is even more disruptive. Supporting and raising children is much easier with two adults actively involved. Moving out and changing routines are stressors to everyone in the household, and moving is physically and emotionally taxing. However, if the relationship is toxic, most children would rather their parents separate.
The burdens of breaking up are many, but if the relationship is abusive and/or beyond repair, breaking up can be the best option. In these cases, it is best to continue separating and complete the process as soon as possible so that everyone involved can heal and move on.
Finding That Glimmer of Hope to Build On
However, in some cases, part of the reason you are still living together is because there is still a shred of hope. One or both of you senses that the relationship can still be salvaged and repaired, so you aren’t quite ready to physically separate. While there still might be financial motives for staying together, the larger motive is not wanting to give up on a relationship that still has potential.
If this describes you and your partner, then there IS still hope. If you both want to try, then it’s worth the effort – before making a big move and requiring one partner to move out. The following are some essential steps to consider trying when you wish to repair a relationship:
Define the Issue(s)
Getting to the heart of your main problem is the first step in healing. Are you both clear and on the same page with what that is? Start by having a discussion about what needs to change. Agree beforehand that this conversation will be drama-free and not about blaming one another; this is about defining the issue so that you can get past it.
You are both intelligent people, and once you have decided to try to make it work, your powerful intuition can help you to find the right solutions. After defining the issue clearly, make a list of what can be done to overcome it. Does one or both of you need to work on trust, or patience, or being more communicative? Zero in on tangible steps that each of you can take to work on the issue(s) between you.
Look to the Past to Heal the Present
A huge majority of relationship problems in the present come from unresolved family of origin issues. How did each of your parents get along? What were their major issues? Seeing clearly where your parents fell short in their relationship can make you conscious of old patterns that you might be repeating.
Each of you should also take a look generally at your place in your family growing up and how this role impacted you. What were your unmet needs in your family of origin? What memories are still emotionally charged for you? Be aware of how you might be projecting these unmet needs, hopes and expectations onto your partner.
Again, this isn’t about blame or making one person right or wrong. We all have a past and came from specific dynamics and circumstances. Inevitably, what we were exposed to will influence us in all close relationships. The more conscious and aware we can be about where we came from, the less we will be “ruled” by these experiences and their effects.
Learn to Speak Each Others’ Love Language
Many relationship issues have their roots in communication. This is because each individual has a unique communication style and specific ways that they feel loved. Discuss what each of you needs to feel loved and appreciated. For some, it may be taking walks and holding hands more often.
Other people enjoy receiving meaningful gifts or cards regularly. Some feel most loved when their partner helps them with daily or weekly activities. Others need to hear loving words and affirmations regularly. Express to one another what you each need to feel loved and appreciated, and commit to finding ways to speak each others’ “love language” more often, especially if their language doesn’t come naturally to you.
Work On Yourself
This applies to both partners in the relationship. How might each of you take action to heal the dynamics discussed in the previous step? While awareness goes a long way, some talk therapy or alternative healing techniques may help you to process and get past the issues faster.
Consider also where you might have been neglecting your own self-development. If you have been stagnating personally, this could be adding stress to the relationship. Is there a hobby, class or educational path that you’ve always wanted to pursue, but put it on the back burner because of the relationship? Devote some time each week to developing yourself and becoming happier as an individual, and your relationship will inevitably benefit.
Consider Couples Counseling
In addition to the personal “homework” you are doing as individuals and as a couple, you should also consider getting professional relationship counseling. A counselor or therapist can bring an objective third party opinion to your issues and situation. They are also professionally trained to help you find the roots of your issues so that you can get on the path to healing.
If you’ve broken up but are still living together, there may be hope for reconciliation. Consider the steps outlined here, and be open to transforming your relationship into a partnership stronger and more amazing than you thought possible.
On to You
Do you live with an ex after a breakup? What’s your thought about those who break up and continue to live together? Should they or shouldn’t they get back together? Please leave a comment.
About the Author
Nadjia Jarrett is a mom, practicing nurse, and educator. She is currently working on her doctoral degree at Grand Canyon University.