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A divorce domicile dilemma

By Andrea Bonior
Andrea Bonior
Andrea Bonior (that's BONN-yer!) is a licensed clinical psychologist, professor, and writer. She completed her M.A. and Ph.D. in clinical psychology focusing on individual and group psychotherapy for young adults and specializing in the treatment of anxiety disorders and depression.

Q: My wife and I, sadly, are on the verge of divorce. We’re determined for this to be amicable and have discussed having the kids stay put in the house while we alternate in and out. She thinks this is the best solution, but I have doubts. Part of it is that I don’t want to share space with her, even at different times. Any insight?

There are some pros of “nesting”: Kids don’t have to be shuffled around, and their routine and daily schedule and social lives are all less disrupted. But the cons, though less obvious, can also pack an emotional punch: Parents might never feel “at home,” an unease that could seep to the kids; the same housekeeping or boundary or trust issues that brought conflict within the marriage might still be staring the kids in the face; and the kids might also be uncomfortable with how mysterious and detached the parents’ “other lives” are, feeling like it’s the parents who are never really home.

Keep discussing it as the co-parents you’ll be, taking into account the dynamic of your marriage and your kids’ personalities. The more you acquaint yourselves with your kids’ input, even if you don’t always follow it, the better off you’ll be.

Q: How can I tell my extended family to butt out of my business? I’ve decided to drop out of graduate school after a long and stressful period of clashes with my adviser. My stepbrother and sister – and even some aunts – are constantly hounding me, saying I’m making a mistake, I should just stick it out, I’ll never get a job in this economy and that my parents are disappointed in me (although they’re the only ones who haven’t said a word). I’m 27, and it’s none of their business. I’m afraid I’m going to explode.

The more you show yourself to be influenced by their opinion – for better or for worse – the more you reinforce to them that their opinion is worth sharing. (This goes for many things, by the way, including your bathroom’s paint color.)

You’ll hate me for saying this, but make sure your anger isn’t springing from an insecurity about your choice. If you’re indeed solid in it, you have no reason not to develop a simple mantra and be guiltless about sticking to it: “I’ve heard and understand your concerns, but this is the right choice for me, and it’s a done deal. Now, how about that Bryce Harper!”

Andrea Bonior is a psychologist and author of “The Friendship Fix.”
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