To Change Or Not To Change The LOCKS After Separating

Posted by Delaine - February 3, 2010 - Advice, Dealing with the ex, On being alone, Support & Girlfriends, Surviving - 23 Comments

change-locks-door-divorceTwo months into his divorce, Mike returned home early from work one afternoon to a big surprise:  his ex-wife had let herself in and was standing in his living room.   “I needed to come by and pick up a few things,” she said casually.  “I tried calling you earlier.  Didn’t you get my message?  I didn’t think you’d mind…”

But he did.  In fact, the feelings of being ‘intruding upon’ surprised him.  What if he’d been with another woman?  What if, what if, what if?  But it was more than that… it was about respecting that his was now HIS house, not theirs.  Still, he ended up saying nothing.  After all, their divorce was proceeding amicably – they were still ‘friends.’  He didn’t want to cause an upset, especially so early into their separation…

Mike’s scenario brings up an important, yet oftentimes ‘uncomfortable’ question for those going through a divorce:  When/should the owner of the matrimonial home get the locks changed?  Like Mike, you may have a variety of mixed feelings/reasons holding you back from doing so; i.e., fear of hurting the ex’s feelings, fear of his/her reaction, guilt, great hope that it’s unnecessary, trust in your soon-to-be-ex…

But take Deana’s case as another example.  Despite girlfriends’ insistence she get the locks changed, she kept brushing it off.  She thought her doing seemed mean; that it was a sign of ill-will towards her ex.  Six months into her divorce, after she and her ex had their first ‘bicker’, she went into her garage only to discover he’d hauled away all the camping gear as well as a bunch of her gardening tools and sporting equipment. “I had to learn the hard way,” she sighed.  “I never thought he’d steal from me and the kids.”

In Deborah’s case, her ex’s behavior was creepy and caniving.  Like Mike and Deana, she wanted nothing more than to have an amicable divorce and felt a lock change totally unnecessary.  But around the one year mark, when things turned sour over finances, she discovered her trust had been sorely misplaced.   “Go look for the hole drilled into the filing cabinet in your office,” he ex emailed her.  “I taped your telephone conversations.  You’ve had quite the dating life…”  

My advice to you is to put a lock change at the top of your to-do list after you separate.  I KNOW it may feel mean or uncomfortable or unnecessary at first.  But the reality is that at some point during your divorce, you and ex are NOT going to like each other very much; probably MANY times actually.  And there is ‘business’ that needs to be tending to during divorce: changing the locks are but one thing on that list. 

Do NOT put your head in the sand and hope for the best.  NO ONE likes to think that their divorce will turn nasty or that their ex would ever stoop to any lows. But think of it this way: you thought you’d beat the odds and stay married too, right?

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