“Is choosing to separate the best option for me?” Choosing to separate in a marriage is never an easy decision to make. It is my hope that by reading this article you can gain some perspective on the topic of separation. A separation is different from a divorce in that you and your spouse will still legally share all parental and financial responsibilities. Also separations tend to have many different flavors. Here are the 3 most common types.
The Working Separation
In a working separation the couple separates in order to spend time improving themselves. Maybe a spouse has a mental health issue they are working on, or perhaps one spouse has an addiction they need to focus on. Working separations are best when there is an informal agreement between the two partners. This agreement will ideally have an explanation as to what issue needs to be worked on, who will take care of the kids and other responsibilities, what limits or boundaries are placed on communication (we’ll only communicate through text or email, or no communication for 2 months, etc.) and on what grounds will reconciliation take place. Working separations have the highest chance of resulting in reconciliation. If you think this is the type of separation you are looking for please contact a therapist or counselor–like myself--and draw up this contract with their input and guidance.
The Trial Separation
A trial separation is when one or more persons in the marriage express a desire to try what being single feels like. The idea is that the person is given time to “clear their head.” Afterwards they will then decide on whether or not to pursue reconciliation. One person generally will move out, either to another part of the house or to another place all together. Trial separations most commonly occur in families without young children.
These separations have a high rate of ending in divorce because most people leave a marriage when the pain and frustration are so high that staying seems impossible. Then,when they leave they find that being single has less pain and frustration then being married and make the jump to divorce.
The Legal Separation
This option is pursued most often when a marriage has become stale and anemic; there is little good in the marriage but also little frustration also. The couple may stay together for the sake of the children or because they both feel that becoming single is not attractive.
Whatever type of separation you are considering please understand that separation is a matter of last resort. Typically, divorce is the result of separation far, far more often than reconciliation. That being said if you separate when your pain and frustration haven’t yet caused you to give up there is a better chance of reconciliation afterward compared to waiting until you have one foot out the door.
If you or someone you know are going through a situation and you are contemplating separation or divorce, contact me today. I can help you work through your issues and come up with a plan that is best for your unique situation and relationship.