Despite attempting to work through things, you and your husband have reached a point in the marriage where you think that separating is the best course of action.
While you know in your heart that this is a good decision for both of you, you are also filled with hurt, sadness, and a sense of failure, with no idea about how to deal with marital separation.
What is marital separation? For some marital separation occurs when the married partners stop living together and one of them moves out while still being legally married. For some, if the damage is beyond repair, this arrangement is a prelude to divorce, while others navigate a marital separation to iron out their difference, problem-solve and come back together, unified.
Wondering how to deal with separation in marriage?
Going through a separation entails a lot of pain.
When you walked down the aisle, you never thought coping with separation or dealing with separation would become a part of your journey. Surviving separation past the end of a marriage and emerging as a stronger person with a renewed zest for life is easier said than done.
Here’s how to help you move through the separation stage of your marriage, healing separation wounds, all while keeping your sense of balance, and most importantly restoring your sense of self.
Feel it all
Deciding to separate is no easy task. This is one of those life decisions that is reached after long conversations (and perhaps several heated discussions). It is natural to have a flood of feelings around this life-changing event: hurt, anger, disappointment, anxiety over what the future holds, and loss.
You may be tempted to try and stuff down your feelings and soothe yourself with food, alcohol or drugs. This wouldn’t be beneficial in the long-term. Find a safe way to feel all your emotions; enlisting the help of a mental health professional would be one of the best ways for you to take care of yourself during these challenging times.
A therapist’s office would provide you with a safe space to cry and express yourself. And when you are ready, your therapist will help you put together the pieces so that you can come out of this situation a stronger, more confident woman.
Relying on a good group of trusted girlfriends, especially women who have been through this, can also be helpful. Reach out to them and don’t isolate yourself; knowing you are not alone in what you are experiencing can make you feel better. Surround yourself with good emotional support; you can’t do this alone.
Self-care during separation
How to work on yourself during a separation?
Taking time to take care of yourself will be essential during your separation process.
Post your marital separation, it is important to establish a routine of healthy eating.
Stay away from junk and highly-processed food; even though it may seem easy to grab a protein bar for lunch, this isn’t an ideal way to feed your body.
Nourish yourself with whole foods, fruits, and vegetables that you sit down to eat.
It will provide you with a moment to center yourself and give you a sense of control when your world seems to be falling apart, following a heartbreaking marital separation.
Plan and maintain an exercise routine
Physical movement will keep your spirits up and help you feel strong and capable, even if your brain is telling you otherwise. Set aside time for substantial movement each day.
Be sure to pay attention to your soul’s health too, through prayer (if you are so inclined) or meditation. A dedicated moment to calming your thoughts and looking inward will be an important element in your self-care toolkit.
If you have left all the banking and bill-paying details to your husband, it’s time to self-educate.
No one likes this part of separating, but you cannot remain in the dark about your financial situation. You need to see all the bank accounts, what is in them, and ensure that you are signed on to them as well.
This is part of protecting yourself and any children you have together.
Discuss how you and your husband will be managing the new two-household budgets, and draw up a plan. Then present this to your lawyer so that it is recognized as fair and equitable.
If you are dependent on your husband financially, you should expect that things will change. With two households sharing one income, your situation cannot remain the same, so be prepared for that.
Communication is key
You may be separating physically, but you will continue to communicate, maybe even more than when you were living together, and especially if you have children. It is in your interest to learn how to speak to each other respectfully so that your conversations are constructive and solution-oriented.
If you are finding this difficult, bring in professional resources—a mediator, or a counselor. They can help you find the words to move the dialogue forward so that both of you have a sense of being heard and understood. You are both hurting, and it may be tempting to use your words to hurt your husband. It may even make you feel better in the short-term, but it won’t get you what you want and need.
So learning how to speak to each other without fighting will be key in moving through this difficult process.
What not to do during a separation
Ladies, looking for advice on separating from husband? Or if you are a man looking for advice on how to handle separation of marriage, here’s a couple of things to remember.
- Don’t badmouth your ex-partner. Refrain from publicizing your decision of separating from your husband or wife. What you say might come back to you in the ugliest, most exaggerated, and the most distorted form.
You are in a fragile state of mind. You don’t need unnecessary bad blood to make things worse for you.
- A separation of husband and wife is a devastating turn of events but to cope with the separation anxiety from a spouse, do not jump into the dating pool.
You will be bracing yourself for a disaster if you don’t take time to reflect and recuperate from the aftereffects of marital separation, before deep-diving into the dating pool again.
- On how to survive a separation, don’t look for a vent or answers in any kind of substance abuse, wallowing in self-pity, and stay away from the drama of plotting revenge or plan to bring your ex-spouse back begging for a second chance.
Be a bigger person, accept your role in the relationship breakdown, and don’t hold grudges. Let go.
Envision your future
Part of the stress of disassembling your marriage comes from the shift in what you thought your future would look like. You had imagined a life-long marriage with both of you raising your children under one roof.
And now this vision has changed.
But this radical change can be managed with care. This would be an excellent time to undertake some self-evaluation. Who do you want to be, now that you are uncoupled?
You might want to invest in working on yourself and defining what is meaningful to you in terms of your professional and love relationships. It is easy to see this time in your life as a loss, perhaps even a failure.
But you could reframe this as an opportunity for personal growth and transformation. You have before you a vast, open future and now is the time to shape it to your liking.
On how to survive a separation in marriage, take the pain of this separation and use it to define what you want in your next relationship, and (most importantly) what you don’t want.
There are life lessons to be learned right now, and you will want to be attentive to these. Don’t let the loss of your marriage turn you into a victim; you are far from it.
Once the hurt of marriage separation has passed, walk straight into your future, fierce, strong, and brave.
You’ve earned it.