Granny adult marrieds and hung for now

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She has no make-up on her fine-boned face, and her hair is drawn back in a ponytail. She's very calm and selfcontained; her only of emotion is in her beautifully manicured hands, which tremble, like the quiver of a whippet, as she speaks — not from fear, one suspects, but rage.

Last year, Cape discovered that her husband and partner of 15 years had been unfaithful. After the shock, and the realisation that their marriage was over, she imagined — as perhaps we all do if we contemplate such a scenario — that they would pack up the family home and go their separate ways.

But, in fact, 11 months later they're still living under the same roof a rented house in Sydney's eastern suburbs that they shared as a married couple.

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They have two children, aged 8 and Jeremy Sheldon and Sue Levings with their son Julian split as a couple almost 20 years ago, but have lived together for almost a decade now. Credit: Justin McManus. It's like, 'You selfish f…ing f…headafter what you did — the betrayal, the hurt, the lack of remorse — you're really rubbing it in.

My language has just become volcanic, really vile. Mostly in my mind, but still. Sue Levings and Jeremy Sheldon with son Julian, who says his parents did "the best they could. Theirs is now a house divided. We don't speak. He doesn't deserve discussion — he's lost that. According to the Department of Human Services, in March there were 38, Australians registered with Centrelink under an identifier code known as "Separated under one roof". This code means exactly what is says: that you are a single person, living in the same residence as your former husband, wife or de facto partner. This seems an incredible figure.

What's more, it's on the rise, up from 35, recipients inand experts say it will continue growing. Not so incredible for the people who deal with it every day, however. I see new clients every week in this situation.

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Anne Hollonds, director of the Australian Institute of Family Studies, a federal government body, says "it's been a longstanding phenomenon. When I was doing working as a marriage and family counsellor back in the '80s it was happening, as it is now. There are, agree the experts, several major reasons couples stay in the same house once their relationship is over, either for months or, sometimes, years. The first is financial, especially when real estate is involved, as it is in so many divorce settlements. As house prices — particularly in cities — have increased in recent years and wages have remained stagnant, it's become harder and harder to finance two homes with the proceeds of one.

I do worry for the kids Second, the legal delays in taking divorce proceedings through the courts are growing longer: up to three years to reach a final hearing in NSW, and two in Victoria. Third, many couples remain under the same roof because they believe it's better for their children.

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And fourth, couples sometimes stay for emotional reasons: because one or both of them, despite knowing the relationship is over, can't let go. All these reasons may be understandable, but experts are united in their opinion that, in almost all cases, staying together physically after separating is a terrible idea. It's financially problematic; it can create more rather than less conflict over children; and it tends to be extraordinarily difficult emotionally.

And probably the biggest is simply how hard it is. For any separating couple, the grief is so horrendous, and the avenues for conflict are so endless. Living together with any measure of success under those circumstances is … well, it's a superhuman feat. Lesley Cape is not trying to be superhuman. Mostly, she's just trying to make it through the day, living with someone she used to love and now — not to put too fine a point on it — dislikes intensely. You have to step up, constantly, to being controlled and mindful when you really just want to rant and rave.

She's doing it, she says bluntly, because she can't afford to go anywhere else. I always paid half the rent, so I've been living off my savings, which is becoming increasingly hard as time goes by. Cape is not alone. Ina British survey of people found that 28 per cent of separating couples remained in the same property for some period post-breakup because of financial pressures.

These same financial pressures were also cited Granny adult marrieds and hung for now a major cause of the original relationship failure. Ina study of American families from Boston, Chicago and San Antonio found that the financial consequences of separation were one of three contributing factors to what the study authors called "forced cohabitation" after separation.

The others were the importance of the parenting bond, and a desire for social legitimacy. Rising property prices - or, alternatively, a flattened housing market which makes the family home difficult to sell - often forces more couples to stay under the same roof longer. Credit: Louie Douvis. Dramatic recent rises in property prices in many parts of Australia have made it increasingly difficult to purchase a second home, especially one big enough for children; but ironically, if the market flattens, a new set of problems arise.

Cape does not own her own home, and in recent months she's had to drop her rental contribution to 30 per cent.

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She's successfully applied to both Centrelink and Legal Aid in the meantime but, she explains, she's at her financial limit. That's not the case for her ex. Really, I have no idea. I don't want my year-old seeing my anger, my disgust, my hurt, my let down. I do feel that needs to be monitored; it needs to have a secure blanket around it. This, says Hollonds, is incredibly difficult. But the kids absolutely will. I'm afraid that's a universal truth. Another, she adds, is that it's "really, really hard to remember the needs of the children when you're overwhelmed yourself. Basically, no one's Granny adult marrieds and hung for now smart; no one's that mature and self-controlled.

If you're silent, that's still conflict. In Cape's case, there was no chance the children could remain in ignorance. I've just explained the fact that this is only temporary, and by this time next year either Dad will be in a different place, or we will. In the meantime — as with every couple in this scenario — the practical realities of life have to be managed.

Cape no longer cooks or cleans for her ex-husband. I am not hanging up your underpants. He uses the second bathroom. I wouldn't go near it. Even with all these logistics in place, however, the conflicts continue, which comes as no surprise to anyone. It can be helpful for the children to adjust to the transition gradually, rather than having a parent just suddenly leaving the home without any explanation.

But those families are less likely to come for family therapy. For the ones we see, there's often a recommendation that Granny adult marrieds and hung for now consider changing their arrangements, because living together is adding pressure to things. Cape almost smiles at this understatement. But that's what I feel. And it comes from having to see him all the time! I'm just like, 'F… off with your f…ing keys!

I'm not interested! You shouldn't even be here! She has a warm, relaxed-sounding voice: she could be telling a joke or ordering a cocktail, not discussing custody arrangements and frozen assets after splitting with her husband 12 months ago. But now, the only way my girls can have the same lifestyle as when we were together is if he provides it. I don't want to disadvantage my own children — so I'm forced to stay.

I need a house close to our house, so the girls can carry on at school — and he said he couldn't provide me with that. And now he's cut off all the money. I didn't even know he could freeze our ! Johnson has three daughters: the oldest a primary school student, the youngest not yet at kindy. Her husband used to work six days a week; they still live in a three-storey house in an expensive Melbourne suburb.

But that was that. I'm no psychologist, but it's very clear that not everybody goes through those stages together, or for the same period. That's actually one of the biggest problems in family law. One person has thought about it, worried about it for months or years beforehand, so they've generally gone through some or all of those stages before even mentioning it.

But the other person may have no real idea, so they're right at the beginning of the process. And that's a problem that flows through into separating under the same roof. Because one person's saying, 'That's it, I want you out. It can also be messy from a physical perspective, because it's more likely that couples will still be having sex if they're sharing the same house and even, sometimes, the same bed.

These things happen. Sue Buckley is a Victorian psychologist, family dispute resolution practitioner and family court report writer. And her ex said, 'I'll stay. I'll live downstairs and you two can live upstairs. In her eyes he just got weaker and weaker as a man. It was excruciating. And then his feelings turned to anger: 'You're the one who's cheating, I shouldn't have to be the one who moves out.

But love doesn't reignite, as a rule. Magda Johnson, for her part, certainly believes it's too late for a new beginning. If he had given me space in the beginning, maybe. But I've got three little kids, and him, and we're all stuck in the house together.

I feel like I'm suffocating. Some months ago she moved out of the marital bed to sleep in her daughter's room, before moving into the study. She still does all the cooking and cleaning in the house. I'm not going to let my children live in crap. Her husband, meanwhile, still pays the mortgage and all the domestic bills, except for basic groceries, which she buys out of wages she earns working a casual job while the kids are at school.

All in all, she admits, "we're still living like we're a couple, except that he's not getting any emotional support from me. No love, no intimacy. Of course, the reality is that nothing is really working as it does in a functional relationship. Childcare arrangements — ly almost exclusively Johnson's province — have become increasingly fraught, because her husband has reduced his hours at work and wants more time with the girls. He never cared before — now, all of a sudden, he cares.

Of course, this can be a good thing. Although the Family Court starts from a position of considering equal shared care between parents, they may also be reluctant to disrupt a stable arrangement; so both parents can feel under pressure to stake their claim to their kids by staying put. And the longer it remains, the stronger the argument of the parent who can say, 'Well, they're with me, they've been with me for x amount of time, and they're fine.

Unlike Lesley Cape's children, only Magda Johnson's oldest daughter knows about her parents' separation. But her youngest is unable to sleep on her own, and her middle one is having some separation and anxiety issues. But what else can I do? How hard can that be? So in Sydney, which is the busiest and most litigious Family Law registry in Australia, if you separate and you want a property settlement, unless you sort out the division yourself, you'll have to wait, literally, years.

The only exceptions are for cases involving family violence. While it may very uncomfortable, I'm afraid those people may have to wait a very long time. Both Johnson and Cape seem like reasonable people: loving mothers, strong individuals, good communicators. But it's clear that living under the same roof as their former partners has been a disaster. It's eroded their confidence, sapped their patience, reduced their capacity to plan constructively for the future.

Indeed, Johnson can see absolutely nothing positive about the past year. It's horrible, horrible.

Granny adult marrieds and hung for now

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