You’ve heard me say it on here a lot: couples fight. And it’s not like the fights you see on TV, either. In fact. if you and your partner fought like they did on TV, you two would actually be getting along a lot better than you are now! So it’s no wonder why now you’re thinking about separating. Your fights are just too bad, too frequent and too emotional. Whether they’re the screaming and yelling kind of fights or they’re the cold, silent type, you’ve just had enough. You’re not sure you want to divorce but you know for certain you don’t want to keep fighting like THIS. So you’re thinking that maybe separation is the next step. Well, before you get too far down that road Here are some things you need to know before you pull that trigger.
Things to Help You Decide When it’s Time to Separate
1. You just can’t go a day without fighting. Sometimes things are so tense in your relationship that it’s almost impossible to go a day without fighting. This usually happens when everything about your partner is driving you crazy – and they say the same thing about you. The way they chew their food, the way they don’t hang up their coat when come home, the way they talk to the kids, etc. If you’re finding that you two are just at each other’s throats over every little thing, maybe a little space is warranted.
2. You’re NOT Ready for Divorce. Research shows that 75% of couples who separate will divorce within the next 6-9 months. This doesn’t mean this should be you. In fact, if you do separation right, it is NOT a step towards divorce. A separation is simply a way to collect yourself so you can come back to the relationship prepared to do some work. If you do it right, the time spent apart is time spent in self-reflection and evaluation. You’re getting some space from the problem so you can look at the problem more objectively and come back with new tools to fix the problem. Remember, every relationship takes two. So your partner is not the only one causing problems in the marriage. Take the time to reflect on you and come back with a clear head ready to problem solve.
3. All the fighting is really affecting you and your family. If all the fighting is really starting to take a toll on your work, on your friendships, and on how you show up with your kids, then you might want to consider taking a little bit of a break to get your bearings. This kind of a break doesn’t have to be long. Remember that taking a break from your spouse also will adversely affect your family and work, etc. too. So you don’t want to do that for too long. Just long enough to get back to feeling like yourself again. When this is happening I recommend a long weekend or spending a few days at a friend/relatives house. When you come back, you’ll see the difference in you and you’ll be able to address challenges in the relationship from a much more grounded place.
4. When you have a plan on returning. The biggest problem I see as a marriage counselor is that couples separate without making a plan about when to return. In fact, most couples view separation as the first step to get a divorce so it makes that they don’t make a plan about when to return. But if you’re going to do a separation right, you need to know what it is that you’re looking for from the separation before you separate. This way you know when it’s time to come back – or when it’s time to take the next step out. So make a plan about what you want to see so you’ll know it’s time to come back. Things like communicating more nicely with each other, co-parenting better, showing more affection with each other, etc. Be specific about what you want to see before you separate so you both know what it is you’re working on.
About the Author:
Aaron Anderson is a therapist and Director of The Marriage and Family Clinic in Denver, CO. He is a writer, speaker and relationship expert. He specializes in working with couples learn to communicate and overcome sexual difficulties.