How a Six Month Separation Saved a Troubled Marriage
By Guest Blogger Sylvia Smith
Sometimes you need to take a step back in order to have the courage to walk forward and get what you want. In the case of Sandy (not her real name), she took a six-month break from her marriage and it not only gave her the space she needed, it gave her the marriage she wanted…. a saved marriage.
Marriage separation is not an easy choice. To get to that point, there is loss and disappointment. There is anger and mistrust. Then you both have to admit that there is something wrong with the relationship. It’s a hard thing to admit.
Marriages get tired for many reasons. Maybe you are drifting apart in your work and your hobbies. Perhaps you don’t spend enough time together. Maybe the love you once felt has fizzled in between work stress, kid stress, financial stress, and the “I’m just so tired” stress.
Or it could be because of something bigger, such as infidelity or other loss of trust.
Sandy found herself contemplating separation. After many years of being married and raising their children, she found herself thinking that while she wasn’t unhappy, she wasn’t really happy, either. There had to be more. She loved her husband, but after many years, it just wasn’t the same. Life was on auto-pilot.
When we just go through the motions, instead of really trying to live our lives and truly love our spouse, life can get bland and emotionless.
What Sandy and her husband lost was that “spark” or that magic that kept love going even through the hard times. So they agreed to a trial separation. It didn’t feel “big” to them, it just felt like a natural progression of what they were
Her husband traveled Monday through Thursday, so she would stay in their house and tend to the children on those days. But on the weekends, she’d leave and spend time in a rented cottage by the beach. The older kids knew what was really going on, but the younger kids didn’t know much more than there would be a different schedule. They seemed to adjust alright.
They told a few people other about their situation, but mostly the story was that she would be working on writing the book she had always wanted to write. Which was true. But the real driving force was the separation. So Sandy set up shop in her own place; in fact it was the only place she had ever lived in by herself. It was tiny, but it became her sanctuary.
The time alone was rejuvenating for her. She wrote, learned to light a gas stove, ate cheap food, and lost 50 pounds. She also had a few relationships, including sex with a woman. Her husband also had an outside relationship as well. Sandy was surprised at her jealousy.
A Sunday Night Reunion
One Sunday night when Sandy and her husband met for their usual parenting exchange duties at the house, they spent some time together talking. Their talking led to sex. It was a connection that they enjoyed together.
Without the day to day stresses hanging over their heads—just the once a week time together—they realized that the fire was lit on their marriage once again. It was a small spark, but it was there. The separation had given them space and helped give them both hope.
What they both did right was not try to rush each other, speak negatively to each other, or expect too much of each other. Setting the separation ground rules was key for them.
Sandy continued to spend the weekends away writing her book and exploring who she was outside of her husband and children. During this time, her husband came to appreciate her more because he saw less of her and was doing more of her duties on the weekends.
When all was said and done, their separation lasted six months. At around six months, something amazing happened. Instead of continuing to further pursue separation or divorce, their once stale marriage became a saved marriage of love and union.
It was almost Christmas, her book was done, her apartment lease was up, and they both felt a longing for each other. They decided she would move home again. Sandy expected it to be awkward for them to live together again, but to her surprise it was easier than it had ever been.
Moving On… Together
He celebrated her and her accomplishments, she celebrated his, and they moved on. Together. They went to couples therapy and worked out some of their issues. Sandy said she has no regrets, and today their marriage is one of love, communication and mutual respect. No longer does she wonder, “Could I be happier?” because she realized that happiness resided not outside, but within her own marriage.
Marriage separation is not for everyone, but for Sandy, it was essential to saving her marriage.
Sylvia Smith is a relationship expert with years of experience in training and helping couples in therapy. Her mission is to provide inspiration, support and empowerment to everyone on their journey to a great marriage. She is currently associated with Marriage.com, a reliable resource assisting millions of couples to resolve their marital issues. She holds a Master’s Degree in Arts (Clinical Psychology with an Emphasis in Marriage and Family Therapy).
I posted today’s blog post because I felt it was controversial and worthy of a conversation. Do you think marriages can survive separation? Can you relate to any of the above? I would love to know your thoughts, even if you must comment anonymously.