Statistics show a trial separation is rarely just a trial. Before you decide that living separately is a good idea, give other options a try.
Every couple goes through times when it is harder to get along than others. But, if you have been in a cycle of fighting that doesn’t seem to end, it might be time to take a break. A trial separation is when you get your shit together, and they get their shit together.
Sometimes two people have a hard time living together because of their relationship, while others have individual problems. The only way to really figure out the issue means to isolate it. When you live apart, you quickly learn whether life is better with or without your partner.
There are many theories about whether a trial separation is the way to go or if it is just a way out. The sad reality, studies show those who take a break from one another by separating have only a 21% chance of reconciling.
Absences doesn’t make the heart grow fonder?
Apparently, absence for most estranged couples does not make the heart grow fonder. If you go through a trial separation, the average couple lives apart for a year or less. Those who get back together typically do so within the first two years. If it goes beyond that, then there is very little chance they end up back together.
There are many reasons for a trial separation. You can be doing it to show the other person what they will be missing, because you need time apart in some states to even consider divorcing, or just because things have gotten out of control and you need a time out.
If you consider separating, you probably feel like you need a break from the nonsense. And you do. But, separating from your significant other might not provide you the peace of mind that you think it will. It seems logical that it is a time to fix your own stuff. Instead, what typically happens is you end up growing apart.
Because you are no longer in the same house, you don’t communicate at all. Instead of working on bridging the gap, you drift farther and farther apart.
#1 You’ll see what you’re missing. Often, couples use the separation time as a “you’ll see what you are missing” period and hope the other person runs back begging to let you return. The problem is that if you push someone away thinking they will figure out how much they love you, the statistics simply don’t hold up.
#2 If you have kids, a separation is a very unnerving time. They don’t understand what a separation means. Their parents are supposed to be together and haven’t really said they will or won’t be together anymore. It is like putting their lives on hold. If you think that moving to separate housing arrangements isn’t going to have a profound effect on the kids, think again.
If you set a bad example by fighting all the time, then it might be a good way to give you and your children a break from it. But, don’t think that it won’t come without consequence.
For couples who decide to separate with children, go about it in a mature way. Although tempted to have a fight in the middle of the night and make the decision, it isn’t fair for a child to wake up confused about what is going on and not having a plan. A separation should have clear definitions, timelines, and actions in place to minimize the pain and hurt for everyone, not just the separating couple. [Read: How to give space in a relationship and not drift apart]
What are the alternatives to separating?
If you are at the point where you just can’t live with one another and survive a healthy and normal daily life, then you have to do something. You can’t stay stuck. Before taking up separate houses, consider seeking out the help of a counselor. The research about couple’s counseling, however, isn’t very positive.
#2 Work together to live together. Living with someone is never easy, and fixing a strained marriage isn’t going to be easy either.
Just like losing weight, it took you a long time to get to the point where you can’t seem to get along. But, the good news is that just like losing weight, it takes a commitment to change your lifestyles to create change in your marriage, but it is possible.
#3 Forgive each other. Often, married couples have a ton of resentment that continues to build, and they fail to forgive each other. Bringing each slight into every argument keeps you stuck. Before you know it, trying to fix things seems impossible and out of your control. [Read: How do you know when your marriage is over: And is it too late?]
#4 Celebrate small victories. The key is to make small changes together and celebrate small victories. If you fight every day and it lasts for hours, make it a goal that it is okay to fight every day, but you won’t spend hours doing it.
Next time, set a goal to go a day without fighting. Once you get there, try to make it two. You will be surprised how much incremental change helps.
If you want to fix your marriage, it is going to take a lot of hard work to stop breaking the cycle of behaviors that you have developed and stop the blame game. It took two people to get to the position you are in. If you make an effort, and they do too, then you’ll be shocked at the positive differences you create in one another. [Read: How to fight fair in a relationship and grow closer]
If things can’t be repaired
#1 Don’t call it a trial. If you intended to use a trial separation as the first step to divorce, as it is sometimes mandatory, then the best way to save everyone is not to put the “trial” label on it. If you are done, you are done.
#2 Don’t build false hope. Not only does giving your mate false hope hurt your spouse who might be hoping for a reconciliation, but it also confuses your children.
#3 Keep hopeful. Marriage is hard work, a job like any other. If you haven’t given it the time, attention, or care it needs, and it is suffering, try not to give up hope. Where there is love left and a willingness to fix things, people can do some pretty amazing things and transform in miraculous ways.