Separation: Be Smart About Time Apart

By: Equality in Marriage

Even as you read this article, there are many couples living in a transition between married life and getting divorced. Separation can come in many forms and have many intentions. For some it is simply a necessity so they can begin building separate lives while they wait for the divorce process to end. However, other couples view separation as a way of creating space and lessening the tension of a partnership so they can decide whether the marriage is salvageable. When a marriage seems to be falling apart, separation can be a way for a couple to get a more objective view of themselves and the pros and cons of the relationship. Here are some things to remember if you choose to use separation as a transition period that will lead to either reconciliation or divorce:

Create a Concrete Plan:

In addition to the emotional aspects of separation, there are obvious logistical issues to consider. A new residence will have to be established. There are financial matters to contend with and issues related to children or household responsibilities. It is important that couples choosing to separate sit down and make decisions on all these issues. Who will take care of the children when? How will you deal with joint financial matters in this time of separation? Not dealing with these issues up front can make them lingering problems during your separation period. It is going to be difficult to be objective and evaluate your relationship during this transition if you are constantly bickering about the logistics of the transition itself.

Focus on Balance:

Separation is a time when a couple can go into their different corners and think about the problems in their relationship, think about how they are feeling as individuals and think honestly about the realities of reconciliation or divorce. If you are truly hoping to rebuild your marriage, it will be important to keep a line of communication open with your spouse. It is also important to give yourself the time and space that you needed to regroup and sort things out. Try to find a balance between working out problems with your partner and spending time and energy on making yourself stronger and more decisive about your situation. Also, never underestimate the value of a family therapist or counselor in helping you maximize communication with your spouse during the separation period.

Be Honest:

Sometimes separation is less about evaluating the relationship and more about making a transition that isn't as severe as divorce. If one or both partners have decided definitively that they don't want to be in the marriage and are unwilling to work on rebuilding it, then that needs to be communicated. It is unfair to hold back these feelings because of guilt or the fear of a reaction. The separation period can't be an accurate gauge of the marriage's strength and potential if both parties aren't honest.

A New Beginning:

Separation makes some couples realize how much they value each other and renews their desire to make the marriage strong and healthy. If you decide to rebuild your household after a period of separation, it is important that both of you make a sincere commitment to putting the work into the reconciliation. Separation is an often scarring transition and it is important to acknowledge that compromise and communication will be needed to make the transition back to married life as smooth as possible. If necessary, don't be afraid to look into counseling or marriage retreats that might help you jumpstart the rebuilding process.

A Respectful Ending:

Sometimes, during separation, one or both individuals will decide that the marriage is not what they want. When either party has declared an unwillingness to seek resolution or work on the partnership, then it is time to consider divorce. Anger is natural when these decisions are made, but remember that being angry or lashing out will not help your divorce process. Begin the legal steps necessary to dissolve your marriage, but always try and be respectful to the marriage you once had and the person to whom you once made a commitment.

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