Relationships, like individual needs, grow with time. If two people aren’t on the same page, they might need to think about splitting up.
A separation is when a married couple lives apart but is still legally married. Usually, this is a time when the couple is trying to decide if they can stay together or if they should get a divorce.
Separation in California is a delicate subject, and while it is a process that generates distance, it also requires patience, understanding, and communication.
Is separation beneficial to a marriage?
Separation is frequently perceived negatively, but it does not have to be.
Separation can be classified into three types: legal, trial, permanent.
While a permanent or legal separation typically implies the relationship is ended, a trial separation is usually a period of time during which the couple decides whether to stay together or split up.
To determine whether a couple is still on the same path and prepared to compromise, licensed psychotherapist Zi Wang, Ed.M., LMHC advises taking a comprehensive view of the relationship.
Separation creates space and helps to alleviate feelings of conflict, disappointment, melancholy or rage.
When those sentiments pervade a relationship, it may be emotionally and physically taxing to be there, says certified clinical psychologist Melissa Robinson-Brown, Ph.D.
As a result, separation may be essential in order to think properly about the course of a marriage.
According to Robinson-Brown, a separation can even be beneficial to a marriage
“if people have comparable goals while separated and are either working on the marriage and repairing whatever ruptures have occurred or working to split peacefully.”
Marriage separation guidelines: what to do and what not to do.
There are a few things that can be done to make a time apart healthy and productive:
1. Establish guidelines.
Wang advises against bad-mouthing your partner or pulling any pranks. You must be honest about what you are and are not comfortable with and openly explain this to the other person.
“Think of it as you and your spouse vs this issue of how to effectively split and come up with the best plan, rather than you versus your spouse,”
Robinson-Brown feels that rules are necessary when deciding on any form of separation, not just for the people in the partnership but also for their children and extended family.
The more order there is in a separation, the less likely individuals involved would feel nervous, angry, or unhappy.
Here are some of the topics Robinson-Brown believes guidelines should cover:
- The amount to which they made touch while apart. How frequently will you communicate, when will you communicate, and how will you communicate (e.g., texting, phone calls, in person)?
- And what is appropriate to discuss: Are you restricting discussions to children and home issues, or do you hope to continue discussions on the status of the marriage?
- If dating or sexual intimacy with other persons is permitted. It’s also crucial to talk about how dating apps and social media interact with this.
- If children are involved, how will the separation be communicated to them, how will their time be divided, and what the new living arrangements will be?
- What information regarding the split and your relationship will be shared with relatives and friends.
2. Don’t act as if this is going to be kept a secret.
People will speak up. It’s unavoidable, but by accepting it, you can reposition what’s essential to you and your partner: your connection. “You’ll most likely never be pleased or happy with your own life if you try to make decisions based on other variables,” Wang advises. “It is not about satisfying those who are not in the midst of this process for you and our spouse’s general well-being.”
3. Don’t forget to think about other aspects of your marriage.
Is religion important in your marriage? Are there any cultural restrictions or norms regarding the dissolution of a marriage? Are there any health concerns, perks, or insurance plans to think about?
Wang points out that after you’re married, there’s a lot more to think about than simply two individuals. It is all that was brought into and developed throughout a marriage. Consider your own scenario and proceed accordingly.
4. Take as much time as you need.
Everyone’s timetable is unique, and some people may require more time than others.
“Forcing reconciliation or reunification before the necessary work is putting a marriage up for additional separation or divorce,”
Robinson-Brown adds. She suggests deciding on a time range and then checking in around that time to see how things are progressing.
5. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself to come up with a solution straight soon.
When you know, you’ll know. Robinson-Brown says that if a separation is working in favor of getting back together, there will be better communication, less fighting, a willingness to make changes to make the marriage better, and, if needed, both people will be willing to go to couples therapy.
On the other side, indicators that a marriage is on the verge of divorce frequently include persistent or growing disagreement, a struggle to reestablish trust, a struggle to see your spouse positively, and an inability to work on the issues that led to the separation.
6. Allow yourself to be sad.
A separation is a loss in many respects, and as such, it should entail some form of grieving.
As Wang points out, it is the loss of future ambitions, a stable existence, friends, family members, and financial security.
But it’s more than that: it’s a loss of trust, a “loss of hope and a sense of direction in life.” Allowing yourself space to grieve and treating yourself with care will be critical to your recovery process.