Guest Author - Lori Phillips
Walking away from your marriage is a serious and life-changing decision that will have more impact on the state of your happiness and your future than you realize. Couples who suffer from chronic marital discord can try to salvage their relationship with a trial separation. Although this measure is not without its risks, many couples have found that a trial separation can provide the emotional and physical space they need to regain a sense of perspective toward their differences.
Before you consider a trial separation, it is good to be aware of its risks.
Enjoying the immediate peace that come from walking away. Withdrawing from the angst and arguments feels immeasurably good. Peace is a powerful incentive to retreat, and retreating is an easy way out. Who wouldn’t choose peace over problems? If you understand that this peace is necessary but temporary until you both can recreate peace in your marriage, then you minimize the risk of making the separation permanent.
Not resolving marital problems. It is important to use this separation period wisely by attempting to resolve marital conflicts. If nothing gets fixed, the separation will lengthen until all that is left to do is file divorce papers.
Getting accustomed to single living. Once either of you become used to living on your own, you’ll have to readjust to living together again which only adds to the pain and effort of staying a couple.
But it’s not all potholes and pitfalls. What can a trial separation accomplish?
Reprieve from the face-to-face stress. Being under constant stress makes us overly sensitive and angry. A little personal space helps each person calm down from being in chronic combat mode.
Perspective. Once our escalating emotions begin to ebb, we regain our senses and can come back to reality.
Missing each other.You can’t miss each other when you’re never apart, and you’ll notice the good things that are missing when he/she isn’t there. Sometimes, it’s the small things that you miss the most: the warm feet in bed, the way he locks up the house at night, the way he makes your coffee just right. Suddenly, you recognize all the ways he expressed love for you and you took him for granted.
Motivation and renewed energy to work things out.A little space can rejuvenate you. Then, you can come back to the negotiating table with a clear head and a determined heart.
A starting over.Meeting up during a separation can remind you that your marriage is a choice, the same one you made when you were single. It can feel like starting all over with a clean slate.
Will it work for your marriage?
A trial separation can work for some marriages, but not for all. Largely it depends on the purpose of your separation: Is this a safety net to see if you can make it on your own or a cooling off period while you work on your marriage? How can you tell if your marriage would benefit?
Do you and your mate want to hold onto your marriage? If both of you have a genuine desire to stay married, a trial separation can provide the necessary, temporary “space” you need without luring you back into the single life. If either of you want to divorce but view the trial separation as a transition, your chances of reconciliation are slimmer. Once you walk through the fear of being on your own again, you’ll never look back.
Do you or your spouse want to experience being single again? If this separation is a “time-out” from marriage with all the perks of being single, you’ll put focus more energy on being single again rather than working out marital issues.
Will you use this separation time positively?Will you work our your marital problems in a positive manner with the intention of creating a more loving marriage or will you allow your anger and resentment to grow and extol the virtues of being separated?
When it comes to a trial separation, is it “absence makes the heart grow fonder” or “out of sight, out of mind?” It depends. A trial separation should give you both enough space to remember just why you prefer to live together as husband and wife. While separated, try to patch up the differences by making life together more appealing than being apart.