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How to Live With an Ex-Spouse

by Carrie Stemke

Many ex-spouses find themselves still living together even after the marriage is over for a variety of reasons, including financial issues, legal problems, a nasty power struggle, or a simple inability to sell the house and divide the assets. And unfortunately, a divorced couple may end up still living together at a time when getting along seems impossible and tensions are high. Successfully navigating your way through this difficult situation will require a willingness to work together and create appropriate boundaries.

Make a Financial Plan

Finances are one of the top sources of conflict in a marriage, and that’s not likely to end just because the two of you are roommates now, says Bari Zell Weinberger, a lawyer specializing in family and matrimonial law, in her Huffington Post article "House Rules: 5 Tips to Being Divorced and Still Living Together." She recommends sitting down together and discussing your expenses and financial obligations. If you find the idea of spending any time with your ex hard to stomach, consider hiring a mediator. After you’ve identified your key obligations, decide how to split up your expenses in the way that works best for both of you. Doing this early on will help prevent nasty fights in the future.

Do Your Own Laundry

Each of you should perform your own domestic tasks, says therapist Deborah Mecklinger for First Wives World. This means doing your own laundry, preparing your own meals, and cleaning up after yourself. This will help to eliminate resentment. If you find yourselves in a situation where one person is doing things for the other, consider creating a written agreement that specifies exactly who does what, so there are no questions. Review this division-of-labor contract on a regular basis to ensure that it’s still working for both of you.

Create Communication Boundaries

Make new communication rules for yourself and your ex-spouse, advises Judge Michele F. Lowrance, a former family law specialist, in an article for MSNBC. Agree ahead of time that if you have an argument, you will not speak for a day, unless one of you has come up with a solution to the problem. You should also agree to terminate communication when one party has reached a serious level of frustration, in order to avoid animosity. Agree on a later date to resume the conversation you were having. Avoid conversations in which one ex tries to get the other to admit fault for the divorce or the current living situation.

Don't Bring Dates Home

While the two of you are living together, it’s best if you agree not to bring home any dates, says Weinberger. This can prevent any negative feelings from one person coming home and finding his or her ex-partner with a new flame. If there are children, this dating guideline will help them adjust to the divorce and new living situation, and save them from the confusing sight of Mom or Dad on a date while the other parent is at home. It's actually best to wait to date, adds Mecklinger, but if you don't want to, talk about dating with your ex and lay down some ground rules.

About the Author

A New York native, Carrie Stemke is an avid writer, editor and traveler whose work has covered many different topics. She has had a lifelong fascination with and love of psychology, and hold's a bachelor's degree in the subject. Her psychology research articles have been published in Personality and Individual Differences and in Modern Psychological Studies.

Photo Credits

  • Jose Luis Pelaez Inc/Blend Images/Getty Images