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Surviving a Breakup While Sharing a Home


When a breakup or divorce is inevitable, one partner usually leaves the home. For couples with kids, the best scenario is for one parent to move to a new location close to where the children live and their ex. This proximity makes joint custody easier and helps both parents continue co-parenting, maintaining some sense of “family” despite the breakup. However, with financial struggles and the rising costs of homes, groceries, and other expenses, having your own place after a breakup is becoming more of a luxury than an expectation. So, how do you live with someone you’ve emotionally and physically separated from?


It isn’t easy; in fact, it’s more difficult in almost every way to continue sharing a household when you’re no longer together. This situation can lead to more conflict, increased acting out from the children, and higher day-to-day stress for both partners. However, if you cannot afford a place of your own, it is possible to make it work. By developing a mindset that views this time together as an opportunity to strengthen your commitment to your children and restore peace through practicing forgiveness for yourself and your partner, you can exit this season understanding more about yourself and what loving someone really means.


Here are some suggestions for practices that will be especially helpful during this time and allow you to be better exes and healthier parents:

  1. Be Kind Because You Can: One of the most challenging aspects of living together after a breakup is remembering that you are in control of your words and actions. Choosing kindness when you want to yell, scream, or slam a door is an exercise in forgiveness and self-discipline. Venting through negative behaviors doesn’t make you feel better and can destroy your children’s and ex’s feelings of peace and security. Go for a walk, practice breathing exercises, and use distractions, but choose kindness with your words and tone of voice whenever possible.

  2. Find a Sacred Place to Be Alone: When I counsel couples, I find that most have a favorite chair or corner of a room where they sit. Even the kids or pets don’t sit there. Having a personal space to retreat to can help you restore stability and control when you feel chaotic inside.

  3. Choose Silence Instead of Rehashing Old Problems: Let the past remain in the past. Living together after a breakup is usually considered a temporary condition. Breaking up means you both decided the relationship isn’t salvageable on a romantic level, but you can continue the friendship by allowing each other silence and space.

  4. Make It a Safe Haven for the Kids: Do everything possible to protect your children from the inner turmoil you’re experiencing. If they are older, remind them that life changes and that you and your partner love them more than you dislike the situation. Kids need to know their parents are still happy they had them and that, although this is a difficult time for the whole family, you are still a family. Your children should understand that the two of you are struggling, but they are not the reason or to blame for the situation.


Working through this time living together can set a precedent for future family connectedness and forgiveness. You are always teaching your children with your words and actions, so make it your intention to show them what real love looks like. Be gentle and give grace to your partner even when you believe they don’t deserve it. 


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