When a couple makes the decision to separate it is most often in the hopes of being able to reconnect down the line. A separation is a way for the couple to avoid divorce if possible. However, many times one or both partners use this as an opportunity to see what else may be out there for them. This is the quickest way to ruin what could be a stepping stone towards redeeming their marriage and happiness. If the right steps are taken and both people follow the rules that are clearly laid out then a trial separation can serve to strengthen a marriage that is on the rocks.
Establish a Time Frame
More often than not when couples decide to separate they do so without making any plans for the future. This is the first mistake. By not setting a specific time period couples can drag the separation out longer than they should. Once both partners fall into new routines and get comfortable without each other it becomes harder for the marriage to reach a happy resolution. The ideal time frame to allow for a trial separation is somewhere between three and six months. This keeps the sense of urgency alive which is important, especially if children are involved.
Have Clear Boundaries
Deciding to separate does not mean you have a free pass to play the field or act single. It’s important that you discuss exactly what your boundaries are and both partners need to stick to them. The goal of a separation is to get your marriage back on track, it isn’t an excuse to have an affair. Laying out a clear set of boundaries will keep both partners accountable and leave less room for suspicions. The last thing you want is to cause more strife in your relationship.
Keep the Communication Lines Open
Whether or not you decide to enlist the help of a professional is your decision. However, you need to establish specific days and times to have couples therapy, even if it’s just the two of you there. Communication is the only thing that will give your marriage a shot at redemption. It will be harder in the beginning when tempers are still flaring but sticking to it and learning constructive ways to communicate with each other is key to a happy resolution for you both.
Don’t Forget the Finances
An agreement needs to be made when it comes to the financial obligations of the household. When children are involved it’s especially important that one parent doesn’t get stuck footing the bill for everything. Making a plan prior to the separation is the best way to guarantee that all financial obligations are split fairly between both parties.
While it may seem that a trial separation only leads to a permanent separation, or divorce, that doesn’t have to be the case. If you and your spouse are both willing to put in the effort and follow the guidelines listed above then your separation can help to reaffirm your relationship and even strengthen your marriage in the long run.