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Dealing with guilt after separation and before entering into property settlement

Updated on May 5, 2015

A calm mind makes better decisions than a turbulent one


Out in the Open

For weeks, maybe months (or sometimes even longer) you have been having an affair. You have not had the guts to tell your partner (be it husband/wife/de-facto partner) it is over, instead you have tried to keep up the charade of a somewhat broken but still intact relationship.

You sneak around behind your spouses back. There are the usual excuses of ‘I will be home late because of work,’ to ‘business trips’ and sporting activities you suddenly start pursuing. If you are lucky your spouse will not be suspicious. Others might find this arouses their partners suspicion and the snooping starts. Emails, text messages and other forms of social media are examined closely. You may or may not be found out depending on how good you are at hiding things from your partner.

It is not unusual for people to do this, so you are not alone in that boat.

But now for whatever reason the sneaking around has come to an end, your affair is now out in the open and you have actually ended the relationship with your former partner (this may have come about because your former partner found out about the affair and ended it before you had a chance or you finally owned up to what you were doing and ended it yourself). In the end how you relationship with the former spouse ended does not really matter, what matters is how you now deal with the after effect.

The flow on effect of your actions

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Practical example

Take the case of the husband who earns more money than the wife who has had the affair. Part of the assets include a nice big family home as well as a little investment property. It is the husband who has had the affair and the wife is devastated. She sobs, wails, whines and carries on like a pork chop, but to no avail. The marriage is over. He has left the house. He has to leave the house to escape the accusing eyes of his now ex wife.

He may or may not be able to utilize the investment property.

Because he has more money he decides he will pay the wife until she gets herself up on her own two feet (not literally speaking). Maybe she will need to look for full time work, or even some type of work to make the world go around. But she is not. She rings her husband constantly for money, to pay a bill, to fix something around the house and so on. And the husband, who is riddled with guilt, because the ex wife constantly reminds him of his affair, puts his hand in the pocket and pays.

After weeks, maybe even months, the husband believes it is time to discuss a property settlement on a final basis. The ex wife, who cannot stand the term ex wife as they are still legally married, starts wailing and whining again. How could he do this to her and so on. She does not want to lose her house, her beautiful home. But there is no way she can afford it.

What should the guilt ridden husband do?

If you think this is all made up, it is not.

It does not matter if the parties have a lot of money or very little, it just helps if they have money because it is easier for the husband (or wife) to pay off his guilt. Unfortunately though, no amount of money will pay off the guilt.

Taking a long term view helps


What to do

If you are in the situation described above (this could be the husband or the wife whose had the affair) you need to take responsibility for your action.

You decided to leave. Sure, you left because there was someone else, but chances are ultimately you would have left anyway.

The simple fact you needed to turn to someone else for comfort, emotional support, or whatever other reason you turned to someone else, means there was something already broken in your other relationship. Healthy, happy relationships do not fall victim to the affair.

Don’t turn into a victim.

If you always do what your ex wants when she plays the guilt card you turn yourself into a victim. Just like you can chose not to stay angry you can chose how you deal with your emotions when your ex tries to blackmail you with the guilt card. Instead of feeling guilty turn the table. It is time for your ex to take responsibility and move on.

A long slow road ahead


Paying the price

It is not unusual for people in this state to be overly generous (if they can) in a property settlement. Thus it is not a good idea to embark on property settlement negotiations when you are still riddled with guilt over your actions.

Paying more to your ex ultimately is not in your best interest. You also need to look after yourself now. There is no benefit in agreeing for your ex to keep the family home if she cannot afford it in the long run and you end up with either a nominal amount of cash that will not be enough for a deposit for another house, or you end up with the investment property, which when you one day want to sell it may attract a lot of capital gains tax (depending on your circumstance).

The power of your Subconcious


If you are feeling guilty about having had the affair and thus leaving your relationship, take time to accept your decision and move out of the guilt phase before starting property settlement negotiations.

If need be see a counselor or psychologist to help you come up with strategies to say no to your ex every time she asks for money do so. Your new partner may not want to constantly hear you nagging about the ex, it can get wearing. Do not strain your new relationship, particularly if it is important to you.

Work out what each of you needs in terms of property settlement and not what might help you feel less guilty.

Ultimately no amount of money will pay off your guilt if you do not deal with it in other ways.

In practice those people who entered into a property settlement being overly generous ended up regretting it, particularly as they realized down the road that they short changed themselves. Sometimes the new partner also gets sick of the amount of money thrown at the ex as opposed to invested into the new relationship.

The best way to deal with your guilt is to accept you are human and prone to mistakes. You should also forgive yourself. Forgive yourself for the way you left your ex and accept that it has happened. Then you can start moving forward guilt free.


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