In this article, I’m going to talk about whether separation can actually enhance and/or save a marriage.
If you’ve ever asked “Certified” marriage counselors, “Can separation help a marriage?”
They probably responded with an enthusiastic “Yes!”
And your friends/family likely offer similar advice.
“Absense makes the heart grow fonder!” OR “Some time apart can do you two good” OR “Why don’t you guys take a break?”
It may FEEL intuitively like you’re getting good advice. Like separation CAN help if you’re unhappy in a marriage.
In my experience of working with thousands of married couples, I can tell you that what “They” tell you about marriage separation isn’t quite accurate.
When you’re in the middle of an emotionally-charged situation, it can be tough to separate what’s objectively going on from your subjective feelings about it.
In order to get a clear-eyed view of the relationship, you may want to get a little distance, and try to see the forest, rather than just the trees.
Being apart from each other seems like it could be a good solution to marriage problems.
Not being in each other’s space 24 hours a day gives you the space you may need to put your issues in the proper context, and decide if things are really worth fighting over.
You have to get away sometimes. But a separation is NOT the answer.
If you separate, by definition, you’re creating significant distance. And THIS, my friends, is NOT productive.
Can separation help a marriage — not in this case.
The distance created by separation only creates more distance, more separation. And if you’re looking to save your marriage, this is NOT the best idea.
Don’t let “Them” (i.e. well-intentioned friends and $250/hour marriage therapist steer you wrong.
Sometimes all you really need to do is shake things up!
Regarding can separation help a marriage — a change in routine can be just what both partners in the relationship need in order to realize what is really important to them.
And if your marriage is suffering from the classic “stuck in a rut” syndrome, a marriage therapist or counselor may well advise separation as a possible cure.
Your friends and marriage counselor are absolutely right: separation DOES shake things up.
But do you want to shake things up?
In many unhappy marriages, the parties involved consider infidelity or cheating. A lot of times, they’re not actually acting on it, but rather, it’s just sort of an “Emotional Infidelity” as I sometimes call it.
You know what I’m talking about.
The fact is though, that this “shaking things up” idea — literally BREATHES LIFE into the cheating — making it MUCH more likely to actually happen.
Can separation help a marriage by shaking things up?
It dramatically increases the chances that you’ll NEVER get back together!
Think about it. Separation dramatically reduces the chances of you fixing a marriage.
If in fact you do end up getting divorced, a period of separation can help to ease the transition from your old lives to your new ones.
Instead of dealing with everything at once, you will already have worked out the day-to-day details of living separately by the time you have to deal with the divorce.
If you have children, you’ll have time to work out all the details of visitation, support and custody without unnecessary stress.
The only reason I would ever site this idea for can separation help a marriage is if you’re DEFINITELY planning a divorce.
But I’m in the business of SAVING marriages, not “easing them into divorce”.
Those are quitting words.
If you’re quitting, you’re quitting — and in that case, sure, separate for a little while first.
But if you’re looking to revitalize your marriage, you need a separation like you need a hole in your head.
Why not try slowing things down, change momentum of your marriage so both of you can work together and think about it?
To date, I have NEVER recommended a separation.
Distance breeds distance. Closeness breeds closeness.
A little over a year ago I thought my marriage was over. She was moving out. Thank you Mort for giving me the tools that I needed to save my marriage. One year later and we are happier than ever and back together.