Does separation work to save a marriage? Yes. While it’s not going to be a cakewalk for you, it certainly is possible to save your marriage with the aid of a trial separation.
Separation doesn’t have to mean that you’ve reached the breaking point. Many people believe that it’s the first step toward divorce. However, the good news is more marriages come back stronger after separation than you’d think. If you take the time to gain some perspective, reflect, and work on the reasons that led you to this point and be patient enough to let it pan out slowly, separation can save your ailing relationship.
Since we’re talking about saving the marriage, we’ll delve into trial separation in this article rather than legal or permanent separation since those tools are used when the marriage is totally over.
Let me help you figure out if separation will be good for your marriage and if yes, how long it should last. Then I’ll guide you through what to avoid during your separation so that you can make the most of this trying time although a lot of the same things apply.
Is Separation Good for a Marriage?
Note: Obviously every marriage is different and without knowing the details I’m going to be making some assumptions and talking in broad strokes here. If you’d like to tell me what you’re up against in your marriage I can help with more specific advice.
YES! Having said that, I’m also bound to inform you that every marriage is different. What works for one couple might not be right for the other. So, will it work for you or not? Let’s find out together.
Before you choose to go for a temporary separation think mindfully and go through the following steps to make the separation useful.
- Deep dive into your marriage and think about what drifted you apart.
- Communicate with your spouse and figure out if trial separation is the only option left to save the marriage. Examine if there’s any way to make it work while you still live together.
- If you both want to take this time apart, set some ground rules to decide how you’ll manage the finances during this time, how often you’ll contact each other, and how you two will make necessary arrangements for the children so that they don’t suffer.
- If this discussion tends to make things worse between you two because you can’t agree on anything, make sure you seek help from a close friend or a licensed therapist.
Now answer the following questions to be certain if separation will be good for your marriage.
Are Both Partners on the Same Page?
Are you the only one who wants to try separation as a tool to save your marriage where your spouse is still confused? If both of you are trying to get back together, this is a great way to reconnect and work on the relationship. Even if it’s only you who wants to restore the marriage, it still has a good chance of working.
But knowing what your partner has in mind will help you strategize better. It works best when both spouses are working toward the same goal which is reigniting the lost sparks.
Are the Reasons Behind it Clear?
For separation to be successful, both spouses would need to have a hard look at the underlying causes that have driven them away from each other. When they reflect on their shortcomings as a spouse, take time to introspect to gain perspective, and rectify where they need to, the marriage stands a good chance to become even stronger than before.
Are Both Spouses Willing to Climb Uphill?
If there was a breach of trust in the relationship and the cheating spouse is willing to do whatever it takes to salvage the marriage, the hurt spouse can take some time and space during the separation. This can help them process the pain that infidelity.
If the cheating spouse keeps showing remorse and continues putting efforts to reconnect, separation can be a gamechanger for their broken marriage. They both need to put in efforts to rebuild the relationship.
However, trial separation might not be a good idea to save your marriage if:
You Don’t Share the Same Goal.
Both partners should talk about their expectations from the separation upfront. They should know what they’re walking into before trying it out. If one partner already is certain about their decision and is determined to get divorced while the other is hoping to get back together, separation cannot be used as a tool to salvage the marriage. It’ll just make both partners feel alienated and withdrawn.
Used for Different Reasons.
Sometimes, to the spouse who wants out, separation feels like a good tool to alleviate the pain of divorce. Instead of cutting the spouse right away, separation allows one to take it slow. But, if one spouse leads on the other without openly sharing their objective, separation will miserably fail to restore the marriage.
When There’s No Trust Left.
Separation in a marriage can take myriad turns depending on the reasons why it’s being used. If it’s a result of one spouse’s infidelity, it might make the hurt spouse even more distant after separation. The mistrust and miscommunication will drive them away from each other. If there isn’t enough trust left to give the marriage another chance, separation might not be the best means to use.
How Long Should a Marriage Separation Last?
In order to get your marriage back on track, you should avoid a lengthy separation. The average length of separations tends to be six months give or take. To make the most out of the separation and get your marriage back on track it shouldn’t last more than three to six months.
While trial separations give you enough time and space to reevaluate your marriage, it also involves the risk of splitting you up if not exercised effectively. You don’t want your spouse to grow into a whole different person while they were gone. How can you work on a shared aim to restore your marriage if you don’t recognize each other after the separation?
Nobody should put a timeline on how long one spouse needs to recover from something as hurtful as infidelity. In cases like that, nobody can be a better judge than you and your spouse to decide how long your separation needs to be.
So the ideal timeline should be long enough for hurt spouses to heal and to allow both partners to grow the perspective they needed. However, it shouldn’t be that prolonged for couples to come back to find out that they don’t know each other anymore. Relationships thrive on communication and intimacy. Separation tends to strip both partners of that attachment.
Make sure you’ve exhausted all other options before you turn to a trial separation. When you do use it as your last resort, don’t let it go on indefinitely.
What Should You Not Do During Separation?
You don’t want to end up divorced and that’s why you’re giving this temporary separation a try, right? Sometimes by trying to be overly enthusiastic, you might even hurt the cause. Let’s see what are the things you need to avoid during your separation.
Don’t Ignore Your Spouse.
Doesn’t matter what some of your friends or the internet tells you, don’t ignore your spouse during your trial separation. There’s a risk that absence won’t make the heart grow fonder. Make sure you set some boundaries as to when and how many times a day you’ll communicate with each other. But, let each other feel your presence. Be open to communicating whenever your spouse needs.
Don’t See Other People.
You’re separated and whatever reason you had behind that, don’t start seeing other people when you’re in a trial separation. Not even when this is the result of your spouse’s cheating and retaliation might make you feel like you’re retrieving your control. Refrain from giving in to your impulses. Maybe you’ll feel good in the short-term but it’ll hurt the chance to restore your marriage once you’ve gone down that rabbit hole.
Don’t Change Your Relationship Status Yet.
Don’t publicize your separation on social media. Even if you’re confused and don’t know if you can make it back together after living apart for a significant amount of time, keep the news to yourself for now. You don’t want people to start approaching you or your spouse guessing you’re going to be single soon enough.
The gossips won’t help either. If you’re too intrigued to change it anyway, adjust the privacy settings to control who you share the news with.
Don’t Rush the Process.
It hurts staying away from the love of your life. Their absence makes you regret everything that you’ve done over the years to let this happen. So, you want to get back together as the happily married couple that you once were, as soon as possible.
Even though you feel horrible at the moment, don’t rush your partner to come back before they’re ready. Healing from trauma takes time. Putting a timeline on it isn’t the way to get them back.
Don’t Play the Blame Game.
When you communicate with your partner, you might feel intrigued to talk about the issues you had with each other. Tread very carefully in order to avoid a full-blown fight. Blaming each other won’t accomplish anything.
Know that both of you had your part in this and accepting responsibility instead of blaming your spouse will help them see how far you’ve come to save the marriage.
Don’t Give Up.
Sometimes you’ll feel like there’s no light at the end of the tunnel. Don’t stop working on winning your spouse back during times like that. Your relationship can endure more blows than you’d imagine. Keep giving it your best shot until you’re back together. Don’t quit just because the going got hard.
Marriage separations aren’t easy to go through. But the end justifies the means if you can get back together that is. If you can productively use this time apart, it can be the end of your suffering and the beginning of a stronger and better relationship.