A trial separation might sound like a horrible thing to do to a marriage, but that is not always the case. At times, a trial separation is just a way of being away from your spouse to get a chance to think and reconsider your relationship and miss your spouse's presence.
Sometimes, when you are apart, it can spark old longing and you realize that you need to get back under one roof with them. Other times, you will just feel that you’re relieved to be apart and are ready for divorce. If you wish to work things out and eventually get back together with your partner, here are a few tips to make your trial separation work:
#1 Set Up Ground Rules
Your trial separation is a chance to think objectively about the relationship from a distance. During the period of the trial separation, you might want to create some boundaries with your partner. You can discuss things you are comfortable with and things that are absolutely off-limits with your partner. Understand that you are separated and not single. Discuss these things beforehand so that there are no disappointments and arguments during and after the separation. If you are still fighting after your trial separation, then divorce just becomes inevitable. You can also set up a time frame for your break so that you don’t become too comfortable in your individual lifestyles. If you know how much time you have to think things over, separation might not be too hard.
#2 Talk About Sex
Since sex with other people might be off limits in your trial separation, you would probably still want to get intimate with each other. Talk about where and how frequently you would like to meet to have sex. In case your separation is based on your sex life, or lack of it thereof, then this discussion should be avoided. But, in case you do decide to continue your physical relationship, make sure you do not let sex cloud your judgment regarding the relationship’s fate. Understand that sex is just a need that you both want to be fulfilled and since you are not divorced you can easily continue to do it without complications. Intimacy during separation may remind you of your dating days and bring you closer together giving your separation a happy ending. Talking about sex will stop all thoughts of infidelity and if both of you or one of you has cheated in the past, you can read how to fix infidelity in a marriage?
#3 Talk To Each Other
How you communicate during your separation says a lot about the future of your marriage. At first, talk on the phone a few times a week. You may fight, rant and cry. There might be emotional outbursts, but after that, there will be a lull. You will both feel calm and then finally start talking to each other. At this point, discuss how you feel about each other and the relationship. Do you miss them? Does getting back together seem like a good idea? Was separation just a way to find each other all over again? These important questions will be answered if the lines of communication are kept open. If not, the distance will increase with each passing day and ego will get the better of both of you. Getting back together, in this case, will be too hard.
#4 Talk To Others
Other than talking to your partner, it is a good idea to talk to friends and family about what led to this and how you are planning to move forward. It cannot be easy to open up about your relationship to outsiders which is why it is a good idea to pick one completely trusted person and speak up. Complain about your partner and tell them everything that’s wrong with them. Chances are, you may end up realizing what was wrong with you as well. Once you realize that you too were not very easy to put up with, you will want to go up to your partner and kiss them long and hard for being with you for all those months or years. Owning up to your mistakes is a mature thing to do and will make your partner see you in a new light. For your relationship, this could mean a new life. You can also go for marriage counseling if you want.
(Also Read: Does Marriage Counselling Actually Work?)
#5 Discuss Money
If you are financially dependent on your partner, you might want to discuss the financial aspect well before your separation begins. Talk about how much money you require every month and what the method of payment would be. Meeting them to take money each month might not be such a good idea. Setting up a monthly payment system through your bank straight into their bank account can be a good way to stay out of each other’s hair and also get the money you need to get by during the separation. In case you both earn and share in the expenses, you will now have to discuss the ramifications of the separation on bill payment and the works. Some couples fight over financial matters as one of them is extravagant or dependent on the other. A trial separation would provide a chance to consider all these aspects and discuss them without judging the other person.
#6 Discuss The Living Situation
You will need to discuss who will be moving out of the house and where they will live. If moving out is not viable, one of you may want to start living in the guest room at your place. You can also crash on a friend’s couch for a while if possible. If you have kids, your living situation is an even more important discussion to have pre-separation. Separation is hard on kids and you should never let them see you two fighting. They should also never feel like a part of the reason why mom and dad are mad. Objectively determine who is in a position to be the primary caregiver to the child. Set up visits with the other partner regularly so the child does not feel abandoned by them. Once your relationship warms up a bit post-separation, you can go out with the kids together to make yourself feel like a family all over again. If you were previously too busy to go out together, this is the perfect time to do so and you now have less responsibility.
You have probably not lived alone for a long time and this can be a welcome change for you. Take this time to gather yourself and get to know the person you have become. Living alone is a great time for self-awareness, and this can help you grow strong and independent. Once you start living by yourself, you will see how co-dependent you both had become. Co-dependence increases trust in a relationship, but too much can lead to a burdened, claustrophobic feeling. You may realize you were craving independence and so was your partner. Once you both see how much each of you has grown, a mutual admiration may pull you both back together. Or maybe you will feel you don’t need anyone else to be happy and this could lead to different outcomes. In any case, you become a lot stronger, so that is a plus. If you have made up your mind about divorce, then read what mistakes do couples make during divorce?
#8 Turn To Therapy
Some trial separations need to be fuelled with communication from an outside source. If all else fails and you feel divorce is imminent, couples therapy might work out for you. A therapist will be a neutral party who will listen to both your stories and tell you what is wrong without judging. A therapist becomes a safe place for couples to vent and discuss their feelings in a supervised environment. So, discussions cannot turn into fights and conclusions can be drawn by an individual who has complete knowledge about the psyche of couples and the intricacies of marriage. When you can get your feelings out in the open, it will be easier to put yourself in your partner’s shoes and feel empathetic towards their situation. Once you see the other side clearly, it is very simple to forgive and forget past mistakes. It is the easiest and most effective way to replenish relationships.
A trial separation can be scary as you are stepping out of your comfort zone. But that is exactly what it makes you realize. It shows you how comfortable and happy you were with your partner. If you realize this and take the right steps, you will be back in your blissful home in no time.
What brought you back together with your partner after separation? Do you think trial separation can save a marriage? Do let us know in the comments section. We look forward to your replies.