This post was updated on Nov 29, 2022
To some people, separation may sound like a perfect solution when you feel stuck and don’t know what to do about your relationship. It could be an opportunity to take some time off and get a new perspective on things. Placing some space between you and your partner may allow you to rethink the issues of your relationship, talk to friends, family, or a relationship coach, and figure out what the actual problems are without all the noise of everyday bickering.
To others, it may seem like an insufferable limbo. If you feel the need to control things and know exactly where you stand at all times, separation may feel like taking that old armchair to the basement when you know full well you’ll be throwing it out eventually. Some people, on the other hand, need to get used to not having it around – out of sight, out of mind, right? Well, not really.
If the very idea of separation fills you with dread, you’re certainly not the only one. After all, having all kinds of unpleasant feelings about the possible end of your relationship is perfectly normal. You may feel fear or anxiety, even signs of depression, having obsessive thoughts, and ask yourself questions like: Does my wife miss me during separation? Does she already have someone else? Will she move on right after we separate? Did she ever love me?
These are common feelings associated with a potentially permanent breakup.
What Do I Need To Know Before I Consider Separation?
It often feels like marriage separation advice is everywhere. On the internet, on TV, in magazines, and of course, all your friends and family usually have a lot to say. However, your marriage is not their marriage and only you and your spouse really know what goes on in your relationship.
What’s more, even the two of you may have completely different perceptions. Although you need to take all available advice with a grain of salt, there are certain things that most people consider before making this major decision.
Are you sure that your relationship needs a break? Maybe you have an ambivalent partner who simply can’t take the responsibility of making such an important choice, and if both of you are indecisive you could end up staying in a loveless marriage for years. Many people do this for the sake of their children or because they fear the reaction of their family and friends.
How do you know if you’re truly unhappy? Taking some time away from your marriage is probably for the best if:
- You’re constantly disappointed by your partner.
- They make you feel guilty if you spend less time with them than they expect.
- They pull you away from activities you enjoy, as well as your friends and family.
- You feel used or taken for granted.
- You feel like your marriage is constantly draining your energy without providing any positive feelings in return.
- Your partner is manipulative and makes you feel bad about yourself.
Of course, the reason behind your separation might not be your partner’s fault at all – your feelings might have changed and you simply stopped loving them the way you used to. Don’t let guilt prevent you from seeking happiness. If you’re worried about the effect your separation might have on your children, don’t forget that a happy and fulfilled parent, even if divorced, is often a better role model than a miserable one in a bad marriage.
How Do I Prepare For My Marriage Separation?
It may be awfully hard to think about your marriage failing, but people do get divorced all the time. It’s important to think about what you’ll do in that situation before you’re in it. That way, there will be fewer surprises if the time comes. If you feel that your marriage is headed in the wrong direction no matter what you do, and the only solution is to spend some time apart and reconsider things, here are some pointers to help you prepare for possible separation.
Some aspects of the separation will be emotionally difficult, so be ready for some stressful and rough patches along the way.
- Try and give yourself some space away from your spouse while trying to maintain the relationship as healthy as possible.
- Use your free time to do things that make you happy.
- When you see your spouse or talk to them, avoid talking about the divorce or rehashing old arguments.
- Explain the situation to children if they’re old enough to understand. Do your best to not make them take sides.
- Be honest and talk about things that you’d like to change if your marriage is to continue.
- See if your partner wants to try and work things out through counseling or a couples intensive.
However, you also need to think about the logistics in case your separation turns into a divorce.
- Make sure to consult a lawyer you trust. It’s a good idea to have a document ready before you make the final decision so you know what you’re going to do with shared assets and finances.
- You can also look into mediation; it can help you decide how to split things up amicably. This involves all your assets and belongings, as well as debts.
- Make sure that you can be financially independent and prepared to live on your own.
- Think about child custody in case your separation turns into permanent divorce.
- Avoid jumping into a new relationship right away. You probably aren’t emotionally ready. Your children will need time to get used to the idea of not having their parents together and even more time to accept their parents’ new partners. Besides, there could also be legal consequences to this since you’re not legally divorced yet.
How Can I Ensure A Healthy Separation?
When a significant life-changing situation like this happens, you may feel like nothing is under your control, and that can be scary. Keep in mind, however, that even though there are two of you in the marriage, you alone can choose the way you want to handle your separation. You can’t, of course, predict the behavior and actions of your spouse, however you can do your best to make the process easier for yourself and your children.
Try to keep things as polite as possible by:
- Not treating your partner like the enemy.
- Setting the standards of courteous behavior by being a positive example for both your children and spouse.
- Showing that you can be trusted and that you have no ill intentions.
- Not lying and doing what you said you would.
- Not hiding important information.
- Not stonewalling your partner; answer their phone calls, texts, or emails.
- Not talking badly about your partner, particularly in front of your children.
Keeping things as civil as possible, even if you’re the one who got hurt, will make this stressful process easier for your kids if you have any, and for both of you as well.
PIVOT Helps With Expert Marriage Separation Advice and Guidance
If you’re unhappy in your marriage and are considering taking some time apart from each other, you can start by talking to your partner about how you could try to work things out. If your partner agrees to couples therapy, you could certainly give it a try – it may be just what your relationship needs.
Even if they’re not interested in it, you can focus on your own well-being. Talking things out with a relationship advocate can help pinpoint your needs, and conclude whether those needs can be met by your current partner. You may end up finding your way back to each other, or at least gain insight into why things aren’t working.
You can use your separation to get away from the noise of your daily life and address your feelings and concerns at one of PIVOT’s individualized retreats. You will learn to adapt your response to stressors and situations that trigger negative feelings about yourself. This can help you achieve a more stable relationship if you decide to get back together, and, more importantly, it will help you become a stronger, self-reliant individual, prepared to cope with whatever comes next.