If you and your spouse need time to reflect on your marriage and whether divorce is the best option, you might consider separating.
The fact that nearly 80% of separated couples end up divorced tends to paint a bleak picture of separation. But often, it might be just what a couple needs to rebuild their marriage. Could you and your spouse be part of the 20% who make it through a separation stronger than ever?
Well, you’ll need a good separation plan. More importantly, you and your spouse will need to fight for your marriage.
If your spouse isn’t on board (yet), there are definitely things you can do to tip the scales in your favor. To fight for your marriage when you're separated, here’s a quick rundown of what to focus on:
Things to know
- Saving your marriage requires you to maintain a positive and healthy mindset.
- Avoid the blame game. Rather, reflect on your own behavior and focus on personal growth.
- Work on treating your spouse with respect and becoming the change you want to see in your marriage.
While these things listed above are certainly a great place to start, you can do a lot more. Here’s what we'll cover:
- 5 Rules For Separation
- What Not To Do During Separation
- How To Fight For Your Marriage When Separated
- Separation FAQs
5 Rules For Separation
If you're going to separate, you might benefit from setting some ground rules so that you're both on the same page.
This time is usually spent living apart from each other to reflect on the relationship and work on your personal and marital issues. Since this is unchartered territory, you'll have some questions: can we sleep with other people? Are we both prepared to work on this? And how will we look after the children?
These worries need to be ironed out before you separate, as it will make the process a lot clearer for both of you. Based on what happens during the separation, you might choose to reconcile, or you might decide to separate permanently or get a divorce.
But first, consider the following:
1. Determine each other's intentions
Consider where you both stand. If you want to fight for your marriage and your spouse doesn't, you may have to come to terms with the fact that your marriage is over.
If you're both set on fighting as hard as possible for your marriage, that's a great place to start. Being trapped in an unhappy marriage isn't beneficial, but it's still advisable to exhaust all avenues before filing for divorce.
Even if your spouse cheated, you might be able to get past it. You don't want to regret divorce after infidelity.
2. Establish a separation plan
Depending on your unique situation, there are three types of separation: trial separation, legal separation, or permanent separation. It's a good idea to seek legal advice about which kind of separation is best for you.
Navigating the labyrinths of separation isn't easy, and if you want your break to result in a restored marriage, you've got to be intentional about it. You'll need to work together to establish a plan for your separation.
Put your heads together and draw up a list of what you hope to achieve by spending this time apart. Then, decide on a time frame and commit to working on your issues as individuals and as a couple.
3. Plan for your obligations
You and your spouse should have a clear plan about what happens to your assets and how you'll handle financial issues during separation. It would be best if you honored obligations like spousal support and that financial security remains intact, especially when children are involved.
Managing your living arrangements is also important. If living apart just isn't viable financially, you may want to figure out how to coexist in your marital home during your separation. If you have kids, try to devise a parenting plan that ensures their emotional and physical security during this time.
4. Come up with a separation agreement
Even if you would prefer to keep things out of court, it’s still wise to have a separation agreement drawn up. This will help you avoid misunderstandings and avert any serious disagreements about assets, debts, bills, and parental responsibilities.
Ensure that the agreement covers things like financial obligations during the separation. If you have kids, the agreement should also outline child custody arrangements.
5. Set boundaries
Setting boundaries is a significant part of a successful separation. It's crucial to discuss how much space you're giving each other and what you are both comfortable with (emotionally and physically) while you're separated.
What Not To Do During Separation
Separation can bring up many difficult emotions, easily leading to damaging behaviors.
Before you do something that could push your marriage over the edge or seriously upset your partner, be aware of these crucial things to avoid doing:
Don't ignore your spouse
Stonewalling or the silent treatment won't do much to save your marriage. If you're angry or hurt and need some space, make this clear to your spouse.
Keep in mind that you'll need to keep the lines of communication open to discuss household matters, parental obligations, and the fate of your relationship. Taking this sort of stance is counterproductive and will probably result in a messy divorce case.
Fighting and arguing while you're separated isn't productive and is more likely to result in divorce. If you're serious about saving your marriage, you should fight against your issues, not each other.
Don't engage in damaging behaviors
If your marriage separation was granted by court order or if it's set to end in divorce, you'll want to keep things strictly professional with your stbxw or stbxh.
Engaging in sexual intercourse or any kind of sexual contact with your stbxw or stbxh isn’t advised, as this usually causes more pain and confusion. What does stbxh mean? How about stbxw? Well, these are short for soon-to-be ex-husband (stbxh) and soon-to-be ex-wife (stbxw).
A marriage can be saved with separation, but only if both spouses are willing to use the time apart to work on their troubled marriage.
If you're planning to reconcile during your separation, avoid dating or sleeping with other people. You're technically married, so that would still be considered infidelity.
Should you reconcile, you don't want to have the constant thought that "I slept with someone while separated" plaguing you. This alone will cause major emotional and intimacy problems.
It would hurt any husband to discover his wife slept with someone else while separated. Similarly, any wife would be devastated to discover her husband's infidelity during separation.
Don't rush things
There is no set time frame for separation; it can last anywhere from a few weeks to several months. What's important is to not rush the process or your spouse. Your marriage didn't deteriorate overnight, so you really shouldn't rush the restoration process either.
It's possible that your spouse might need more time to process everything, and it's important to respect that. Plus, rushing things might actually put you at risk of making the same mistakes again.
How To Fight For Your Marriage When Separated
Accept that your relationship is in critical condition and consider this period of separation as intensive care for your broken marriage.
You're at a crucial juncture, and it's easy for hopelessness to set in. However, when you're trying to fight for your marriage when separated, you'll need to maintain a positive mindset.
Here are other ways to fight:
Marital separation encourages objective thinking and allows for a more realistic assessment of your marriage. Use this time to ask yourself some serious questions about your broken marriage.
Was it a loss of intimacy? Did you discover that you weren’t as compatible as you initially thought? Chances are, you won't have simple answers. But, being able to establish what went wrong is a good start.
Don't forget to reflect on your own behavior as well. Could certain behaviors (e.g., stonewalling, contempt) have contributed to your marital issues? What can you improve or change? Think back to any recurring issues and use them as a starting point.
Take responsibility for your actions
Resolving your issues will be difficult if you're solely focused on your spouse's flaws and mistakes. Blame is counterproductive and will keep you trapped in a vicious cycle. To break the negative pattern, focus on your own growth and development.
Only when you take responsibility for your actions will you be able to address them and become a better spouse. What part did you play in the breakdown of your marriage? What unhealthy communication habits may have caused you to drift apart?
Let go and forgive
You can't fight for your marriage if you're still harboring resentment. So, during your separation, work on forgiving your spouse and letting go of any strong negative emotions.
Similarly, you might feel guilty or disappointed about how you've handled certain issues in your marriage. To get in the right headspace to do better, you’ll need to forgive yourself too.
Consider marriage counseling
Consider couple's therapy or marriage counseling if you and your spouse aren't getting anywhere with your attempts to fix things. A professional can help you improve your relationship skills. They can also help you discover new possibilities and restore hope in your marriage.
Try individual therapy
For your marriage to have a fighting chance, both your mental and emotional states should be in good condition. This is where individual marriage counseling or therapy can be beneficial. A good marriage counselor will help you identify what personal issues you need to work on to save your marriage.
Focus on healthy communication
You'll need to keep in communication regarding financial, household, and family matters. Although much of this can be handled over the phone or via text, it's important to remain respectful.
If you hope to restore your marriage, pay attention to how you talk to your spouse. Be mindful of how you communicate, and remember, it's not just about what you say; it's about how you say it. By prioritizing healthy communication, you'll establish better relationship dynamics.
Learn to manage your emotions
During your time apart, focus on learning how to manage negative emotions well. You need to get to a place where you can communicate your frustrations and concerns in a constructive manner - especially if conflicts were high before your separation.
If you tend to react defensively when confronted with conflict, seek help to address the root cause. You may also need to learn how to approach problem-solving and conflict resolution with your spouse. If you've always struggled with either of these things, use this time to learn the right skills from a qualified professional.
Show, don't tell
If you've had problems for a while, you've probably made promises to each other about changing certain behaviors. As a result, your trust levels might be at an all-time low.
To restore them, it's crucial to show rather than tell your spouse that you're willing to change. Actions are clearer and more reassuring than words, so strive to demonstrate that you are committed to working on yourself.
Work on your issues
What are the underlying issues behind your marital problems? If you can identify them and work on them together (preferably during couple's therapy), this can be a powerful way to repair your bond.
If you and your spouse are going to counseling, you might be given assignments to meet between sessions. Until you've tackled serious issues, meet in a neutral setting where you're more likely to remain civil and polite with each other.
While you certainly can't control your spouse's behavior, you can set the tone for your interactions by remaining calm and addressing your spouse with care and gentleness.
Focus on self-care
If you want to fight for your marriage, it's crucial that you prioritize self-care. Your psychological state will have a direct impact on how you relate to your spouse (and kids). You may also find it helpful to lean on trusted friends and family members for strength and reassurance.
If you would rather confide in a stranger, consider speaking to a therapist.
Rekindle the romance
If your goal is to reconcile, you'll need to reawaken all the feelings you once felt for each other. When you’ve both had enough time to calm down and reflect, consider going on dates. Remember to keep the atmosphere pleasant; save all the heavy stuff for your scheduled meetings.
Embrace new possibilities
Ultimately, if you're both ready to adopt better patterns of behavior and change the way you relate to each other, you can save your marriage. Instead of harping on past hurts, focus on what you want your marriage to look like.
Start asking new questions like: What kind of marriage do we want? How can we create our ideal marriage together?
All your burning questions about separation are answered below.
Can a marriage be saved with separation?
A marriage can be saved with separation, but only if both spouses are willing to use the time apart to work on their troubled marriage.
How long do most marriage separations last?
Separations last, on average, about a year, and couples usually reunite after two years. After two years, the chances of getting back together drastically decline, and divorce becomes more likely. This isn't to say that reconciliation isn't possible even after a three-year separation or longer.
Should I text my wife during separation?
Yes, you should text your wife during separation unless you have agreed not to text each other at all. If you have agreed to only text each other about family or household matters, respect that boundary and leave the relationship talk for in-person meetings.
How do you save a relationship while separated?
To save a relationship while separated, a married couple must want to save the relationship. They must then agree on how they plan to do that while separated. Once they agree, they must work on restoring their relationship through healthy communication, mutual effort, and understanding.
How do you make your husband miss you during a separation?
To make your husband miss you during separation, focus on giving him space, keeping your interactions positive, and reconnecting emotionally.