“My teenage son, John, said that a trial separation was like being on the Titanic. I didn’t believe him at the time,” said Beth. This year, Beth and her husband of more than six years separated.
They had been seeing a marriage counselor for over six months, and he suggested that they pursue a trial separation. Here’s the interesting thing with Beth and her husband— there was no infidelity in the marriage, and there were no signs of abuse.
Beth explained that the problem was purely a lack of communication which resulted into a lack of feelings. Beth wanted a trial separation, as agreed by the marriage counselor, but also wanted to ensure that there was open communication between her and her husband.
And then, six months after the trial separation, Beth got a call from her husband saying that the marriage was over and that he wanted to divorce. Her son John was right. He’s now living with a single mom. Beth really wanted the marriage to work and yet this trial separation changed their entire lives, with the opposite intended effect.
There’s a new trend that we see in divorces in this country. It’s called a trial separation. If you’re thinking about a trial separation, here is what a therapist or counselor will initially advise you. As you read this advice, think about whether you feel it might work in your situation.
- If the trial separation is done right, and it’s a true trial separation, living apart can work for you. In fact, it can make your marriage stronger. The therapist or counselor will make sure that there is agreement on how often you will talk to one another and that there will be no dating others.
All you’re trying to do here is to figure out yourself while you’re “on trial.” The most critical aspect, according to therapists, is to agree about how your child should spend time between you and your spouse.
- Another important thing they will have you consider during a trial separation is that if there’s any problem that escalates, you need to control the emotions and talk to each other later on about the issue. Apparently, avoiding face-to-face confrontation will help improve your marriage.
- In the case of cheating, the person who requests the trial separation should be the one who’s been cheated on. That’s supposedly the best way to make the trial separation work.
- The trial separation is like a courtroom trial. A trial separation can give a couple a ”fighting” chance of being apart, and—with some luck —this will get them together again.
- The separation will only work if both partners are willing to examine their own behaviors and try to figure out what went wrong. If you don’t work on yourself, you can’t work on your marriage.
Now, the question I have for you is, do you believe in miracles? In my opinion, the trial separation is not the first step toward reconciliation with your spouse. It’s the first step toward divorce court. After years of talking to couples,together and one-on-one, I’ve learned that people don’t want to work on the things that they need to in order to stay married.
And if you’re not living together, what’s the likelihood that you will be working on the things that matter to your marriage in order to stay together? Trial separation is just a bad idea. So before you even consider separating, there are four important questions that you should ask yourself:
1. Why were you married in the first place?
2. Do you want this marriage to work, and are you committed to it working?
3. Can your marriage really be fixed?
4. Should you have even bothered with the marriage in the first place?
Now, let’s assume that your marriage is important to you. The next step is to do the right things without going on a trial separation.
Step One: The goal for each of the partners in the marriage is to decide what each wants from the marriage —what each wants from the marriage in order for it to work. This means talk specifically about what you do like.
Don’t talk about what you don’t like. Say, for example, that your husband is working all the time and he never spends time with the kids. Don’t say, “You never spend time with the kids.” You need to communicate in a way that’s effective.
So, for example, say, “I would really like you to spend more time with the kids; I would like you to spend Sundays helping the kids with their homework.” The purpose is to figure out exactly what you want, and communicate that in a way that your husband can see it in a positive light.
Step Two: Concentrate on yourself as an individual and your husband as an individual. Don’t feel that you have to commit to the marriage because of the kids and everyone around you. That’s not going to work.
You and your husband need to be loved, to be appreciated, and to feel respected. So concentrate on each other and figure out how you can help solve each other’s problems and make each other feel special.
Do the right things regarding how to save your love relationship, and avoid taking a voyage on the Titanic.
By Dr. Ellen Kreidman, Ph.D
Ellen Kreidman on Google +
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