How to Live Peacefully with an Ex

Couple with arms crossed sitting on couch looking away from each otherThe first step toward divorce is often physical separation. One partner may move out of the marital home and establish a residence with a friend, coworker, or even on their own in an apartment until final living arrangements can be made. But in this shaky economy, that is not always a financial option for couples. Houses don’t sell like they did just a half a decade ago. And many individuals are unemployed, making economic survival difficult as a couple and nearly impossible alone. Michele F. Lowrance, a judge who has seen numerous divorcing couples during her career, has noticed a trend in recent years. “Many divorcing couples cannot sell their marital home in this market, forcing estranged couples to co-habit indefinitely,” said Lowrance. Not only can the financial strain of diminished income and lost equity exacerbate marital conflicts and raise the tension in a good relationship, but it can also stall the road to recovery for couples embarking on single lives.

In a recent article, Lowrance makes some suggestions for couples in this situation. She calls this roadmap “behavior modification by court order.” First, she recommends that divorcing individuals who live together begin by developing a budget to ensure that all living expenses be met and divided fairly. This will remove any possibility of either party assuming too much financial obligation during the pseudo-separation. When conflict arises, as it is sure to do, Lowrance believes it is imperative for each spouse to take responsibility for their part in the disagreement and acknowledge bad behavior. If frustrations and tensions rise, she suggests waiting a full day before approaching the subject again. When that time comes, there may be more insight and solutions may be revealed. Allowing for a do-over, a new discussion about the same topic, but with different results, is a must for healthy communication.

Lowrance also thinks that having two different solutions to the situation at hand will provide alternative outcomes and will shift the focus from blame to cooperation and compromise. These approaches may sound simple, but they will probably not be easy. If these strategies came naturally, many couples could potentially avoid divorce. But for those forced to live with their soon-to-be ex-spouse, these tactics could help keep the peace during a difficult time.

Lowrance, Michele F. Chained to your ex? How to live together after a divorce. (n.d.): n. pag. 23 Dec. 2012. Web. 30 Dec. 2012.

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  • jacob


    January 7th, 2013 at 12:42 PM

    it can be hard to live with someone you want to be done with.I remember having to share my apartment with my former girlfriend for just a week after we had decided to part and it was very awkward.although we did fine as the duration was not too long,I can’t imagine how these couples will manage to do that for a long close to someone you are divorcing or separating from is hard enough,imagine living in the same house!

  • rachel


    January 7th, 2013 at 3:25 PM

    I don’t even know how a couple going through a divorce could ever even try to maintain a home together. I know of maybe one couple that I have ever seen go through a divorce may could had made that happen, but the stress of that and trying to move on would have to be such a nightmare. It would take a whole lot stronger person than I to live like that.

  • tim b

    tim b

    January 7th, 2013 at 11:20 PM

    indifference may seem like a nice approach in this situation but that’s not going to protect against flare ups and conflicts.the best possible way would be to try and move to a chalet accommodation.I would do that any day rather than to live with my soon-to-be ex!

  • Leslie


    January 8th, 2013 at 3:54 AM

    How are you ever supposed to be able to move on when you are still being forced for whatever reason to share a home with this person?
    Obviously if there was no problem with living together then the chances are high that you would not have even considered getting a divorce in the first place.
    I suppose that there are a few couples out there who could handle this, but for the ones where it just stays more and more bitter, wouldn’t this cause even more stress and anxiety, not to mention the damage and confusion it could be causing for their children?

  • julian


    January 8th, 2013 at 11:21 AM

    Are there really those who are advocating for this? because one of the first thing my ex’s lawyers and mine worked out was who needed to leave the home while waiting for it to sell. They would have in no way kept us under one roof just because of a sanity issue! I think that when you are ready and have decided that divorce is the option to pursue, then that’s it. You need to move on and that includes not living together anymore. It’s too confusing, too trying, and not the best decision.

  • rona


    January 8th, 2013 at 9:44 PM

    although this may seem like an uncomfortable arrangement for most people,I think this could be a blessing in disguise for that rare couple…living together could actually help them get over their differences and problems and make them realize how much they mean to each other.

    they may not even proceed with the entire divorce process after getting a view of everything they’d be could well help save a marriage this arrangement!

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