You’re not quite married, and you’re not exactly divorced. Separation can be a lonely and stressful process, especially when it’s unclear how things will end.
If you’re considering whether to divorce or stay married, you'll benefit from knowing what positive signs to look out for during separation. These signs will tell you all you need to know about whether you should fight for your marriage or walk away.
So, is there still hope for your relationship? To help you figure out your chances, here's what to look out for:
Things to know
- Wanting to work on personal or marital issues and a commitment to creating a better relationship dynamic are strong positive signs during separation.
- Another positive is a willingness to forgive and let go of the past.
- As all the positive signs associated with reconciliation emanate from a desire to work things out, wanting to fight for your marriage is the single most important positive sign to look out for during separation.
Essentially, if reconciliation is on the cards, you'll notice more positive signs in addition to the ones outlined above. Likewise, if you're better off moving on, there will be plenty of negative signs to confirm that too.
Read on to learn more about the following:
- Do Couples Get Back Together After A Separation?
- 8 Best Practices For Resolving Separation
- Marriage Deal Breakers
- 8 Negative Signs During Separation
- 9 Positive Signs During Separation
- The 1 Positive Sign During Separation to Always Look Out For
- When To Give Up On Separation
Do Couples Get Back Together After A Separation?
Around 6 to 18% of couples who are still married have separated at some point. So, despite the often bleak portrayal of separation, some couples do get back together.
Interestingly, research studies show that couples usually reconcile within two years of separation. After two years, the chances of reconciliation fall, but this isn't to say that a couple still can't settle their differences and find their way back to each other.
8 Best Practices For Resolving Separation
For separation to lead to reconciliation, couples must be willing to do the following:
- Forgive and let go of negative emotions
2. Take responsibility and change their thinking
3. Confront and resolve serious issues
4. Work on improving their relationship skills
5. Adopt healthier patterns of behavior
6. Make positive changes to how they communicate
7. Rebuild trust and intimacy
8. Rekindle love and attraction
Marriage Deal Breakers
No matter whose idea it was to separate, and whether it’s a trial separation or a legal separation, the fact remains: There are things you can do to increase your chances of reconciling and things you can do to harm them.
Here are some common marriage deal breakers:
Major deal-breakers often include abuse of any kind. Once a relationship spirals into verbal, physical, or emotional abuse, there isn't much that can be done to repair the damage. Similarly, once a spouse turns to substance abuse and endangers everyone around them, divorce is inevitable.
When civility and respect aren't prioritized, separation can still be a stressful experience. Things can get messy, especially while you're still healing and letting go of all the negative emotions surrounding your separation.
During this time, it's important not to disrespect your spouse and force family members or mutual friends to take sides. This is the fastest way to create massive conflict or end up with no friends after divorce.
If you have kids, disrespecting your spouse is one of the worst things you can do; it isn't fair or healthy to expect children to play favorites. Instead, focus on your emotional and mental health.
When you've had time to think, you'll be able to make more sound decisions regarding your spouse and the future of your relationship.
Divorce is also a strong possibility when a separation occurs due to infidelity, and the offending spouse doesn't show remorse or any desire to change their behavior.
8 Negative Signs During Separation
Before we touch on the positives, let's get the negative signs out of the way first. If you can identify some of these warning signs early and address them, you might be able to avert divorce:
1. Poor communication
There are four strong predictors of divorce: criticism, stonewalling, defensiveness, and contempt. If you or your spouse are still engaging in any of these destructive behaviors, it isn't a good sign. If you can't work on them, your marriage may be beyond repair.
2. You're incompatible
They want to pursue their career while you would like to start a family. You want a peaceful life away from the city, but they don’t want that. Sadly, if your goals and perspectives no longer line up, it's not advisable to remain married.
Granted, letting go is a big, life-changing deal. On top of mourning your marriage and possibly needing to figure out co-parenting, your finances and lifestyles might change.
It’s not uncommon for couples to have to downsize or consider moving back in with parents after divorce. The alternative, however, is staying stuck in an unhappy marriage or toxic home environment.
3. You're at odds about getting professional help
Sometimes, professional help is all a couple needs to get unstuck. However, if one partner doesn't see the value of counseling or therapy and flat-out rejects the idea, there isn't much that can be done. If you're in a similar situation, keep in mind that you can still benefit from seeing a family therapist on your own.
4. You won't take responsibility for your actions
Are you still butting heads over past hurts? Does every interaction turn into another heated round of the blame game? If the time apart doesn't seem to be helping you or your spouse reflect and take responsibility, that's a bad sign.
5. Your spouse is seeing someone
A separation is meant to give spouses time to reflect and work on their marriage. If your spouse is seeing someone else and focusing on that relationship instead, they've moved on. You may have to accept that the chances of saving your marriage are very slim.
6. Your spouse is still angry
If your spouse still uses harsh words and their body language is aggressive or threatening, you're going to have a tough time reasoning with them. You may want to consider using the no-contact rule until they've calmed down.
7. Your spouse mistreats you
While separation can certainly be a time of restoration for some couples, for others, it can be a stressful prelude to a messy divorce process. Hostility, refusing to cooperate, and making your life hell are all red flags.
If your spouse is being abusive or toxic, you may want to seek legal advice to get the divorce process underway.
8. You can't seem to agree on important matters
Whether it's custody or finances, you can't seem to agree on anything. You're constantly butting heads over your obligations, and even your separation agreement was handled by the courts.
Unfortunately, this doesn't inspire much hope that your time apart will get you to see eye to eye. If your inability to work together persists several months into your separation, then you might not be able to save your marriage.
9 Positive Signs During Separation
If you have hopes of saving your marriage, you'll need to keep a positive mindset. There's no better way to do this than to lean into the positives while working on the negatives.
So, what exactly are positive signs during separation?
1. You're still on the same page
Incompatibility is often cited as one of the major causes of divorce, so if you and your partner can still agree on major things such as parenting, ethics, lifestyles, and finances, you have a strong foundation from which to rebuild. When you're still on the same page, fixing your relationship issues is a lot easier.
2. You still love and care for each other
Even when you love and care for each other deeply, certain external factors can lead to problems in your marriage. Perhaps major life stress pulled you apart. Maybe complacency crept into your relationship.
If you and your spouse recognize that you need some time apart to save your relationship, that's a positive sign. With mutual effort and understanding, you can address your problems.
3. You're both working on your relationship
One of the biggest regrets couples experience after a divorce is not trying hard enough to save their marriage. Often, people feel guilty after divorce for not fighting harder. Marriages tend to break down due to various reasons, such as:
- Frequent unresolved conflict
- Commitment or trust issues
- A loss of intimacy
- Work stress
- Financial problems
Identifying and resolving these issues is usually a couple's best shot at saving their marriage. In other words, if you and your spouse have identified your problem areas and are actively working on fixing them, there is an excellent chance that you will be able to reconcile.
4. You're both doing the necessary internal work to repair your relationship
If you're both actively using the time apart to reflect and do the necessary internal work to repair your relationship, that increases your chances of reconciliation. A healthy relationship is possible if you both take responsibility for your own personal development instead of harboring resentment.
There's no doubt that this is a challenging process, but do your best to get through it. You don't want to give up only to find that you divorced your husband, and now you miss him. You certainly don't want to realize it too late and that leaving your wife was a mistake.
5. You notice positive changes in your spouse
Often, positive changes are an indication that your spouse is determined to work on your relationship. When these changes come with other behaviors, such as consistent communication and spending time together, you can be sure that your spouse is hoping to rekindle things between you.
6. You're both open to professional help
Going to individual therapy is a good sign that your spouse wants to work on their personal issues. An even better sign is if you're both willing to go for marriage counseling or couples therapy together. It's going to take mutual effort to overcome your problems, and with professional guidance, you are more likely to succeed.
7. You're communicating more effectively
Once you've given negative emotions a chance to subside, you might find that you're able to start communicating again. Being able to address each other with respect is crucial to improving your relationship. And if you find that you're communicating more effectively, even through text messages, you're making progress.
8. You have more positive interactions
If you and your spouse are now relating to each other in more positive ways, that's a good sign. A large part of getting your relationship back on track depends on how well you're able to relate to each other. If there's growing attraction or emotional intimacy between you, that's an even better indication that you're well on your way to rekindling things.
9. You've forgiven each other
Perhaps your wife cheated and wants you back. Maybe your husband has realized the error of his ways. Mutual remorse is a key sign that a relationship can be saved. If you and your spouse have healed, set aside your differences, and forgiven each other, that's a big step in the right direction.
The 1 Positive Sign During Separation to Always Look Out For
While we've detailed some of the most common negative and positive signs to look out for during separation, every situation is unique, and every couple is different.
However, there is 1 positive sign to look out for during separation, and that is a desire to fight for each other. This one sign is so powerful that it serves as the foundation for all the other positive signs we’ve explored so far.
It’s also a reflection of the fundamental truth that a marriage lasts for as long as a married couple chooses to keep it alive. In other words, if you and your spouse have a strong desire to fight for each other, it's highly likely that you'll be able to work together to save your marriage during separation.
When To Give Up On Separation
It’s crucial to try as hard as you can to save your relationship during separation. You don't want to live with the lingering thought that divorcing your husband was a mistake. You certainly don't want to discover that you still love your wife and that you hate being divorced.
It should be noted, however, that sometimes, it’s best to give up on separation. Discovering that your soon-to-be ex-wife has a boyfriend or that your wife left you for another woman are clear signs that you should walk away, for example. Abuse and not being able to overcome your issues amicably are also big ones.
Ultimately, when you are no longer in love and want a shot at happiness with other people, it's truly best to give up on separation.
Get Expert Help at Relationship Hero
If you're looking for personalized support and guidance during your separation, consider reaching out to Relationship Hero. They provide expert relationship coaching for people going through a range of relationship challenges, including moving on after a separation. Their coaches have helped many individuals, including myself, navigate the ups and downs of separation and find a positive path forward.
At Relationship Hero, they understand that every separation is unique, and they work with you to develop a personalized plan to help you heal and move forward. Whether you're hoping to get back together with your ex or move on to a new relationship, their coaches are here to support you every step of the way.
If you're unsure where to start, take their relationship quiz to get a better understanding of your current situation and the best path forward for you. With Relationship Hero, you don't have to go through separation alone.