Do trial separations work, and who are they really for? If you’re growing frustrated with the state of your relationship you’ve probably been asking yourself this question for a while. You’re not ready to give up on your partner, but you’ve exhausted so many options for a relationship revival that you find yourself at a loss for what to do next. Before choosing divorce, couples should take some time apart to evaluate what their lives would really be like without one another.
When frustration looms and there are no solutions in sight a trial separation usually comes into play – but do they really work? Often times, people view a trial separation as a step away from separate houses. So, is a trial separation just the thing your relationship needs or are you on your way to losing your mate? Here is what you need to know about healthy trial separations and how to have one.
Benefits of a trial separation for your relationship
Contrary to popular belief, trial separations aren’t always bad. In fact, there are many benefits to having a trial separation that can actually make your relationship stronger in the long run. Here are the pros of a trial separation.
1. Much needed space
When couples become disillusioned with their current situation it can be good to take time apart to think. If you are going through a trying time in your life you may be consumed with stress and anxiety. In these instances sometimes having a little space can give you the clarity to deal with your problems, learn to cope, and come to understand how you can communicate better with your partner about them. This can also give you the freedom to assess your issues without bickering or tension.
2. Rediscover yourself
When you have been in a serious relationship for many years you can sometimes forget who you are. Instead, you get caught up in being a partner, parent, provider adult. Many times you’ve put aside personal dreams and goals to better suit the needs of your family. A trial separation is a great opportunity to get to know yourself.
3. A preview of life without your partner
If you are certain that you want to end your relationship at the end of your trial separation, don’t pack your bags just yet. Being separated from your partner for an extended period of time gives you the opportunity to miss them. If no friendly feelings emerge about your partner, a trial separation also offers you the chance to assess whether or not you could live without them.
Downsides of a trial separation
Not all trial separations have a happy ending. Even if you have the best intentions for reuniting when you first part, there are some cons to consider. The downsides to a trial separation can leave your marriage in a worse position than it started off in. Here are some common concerns:
1. Lack of communication
If done improperly, a trial separation can be detrimental to your communication efforts with your couple. Instead of taking the time to really think about your problems and how to fix them, you’ve simply begun living life as a single and stopped considering your partner.
2. Financial stresses
If your trial separation consists of one party moving into a new apartment, this can cause financial strain. Not to mention, any purchases made during the trial separation will still count as marital debt. Should you choose to get a divorce, both parties will be responsible for debts incurred during the trial separation.
How to make a trial separation work
The goal of a trial separation is to give both parties space to work out their issues with the hopes of getting back together, not of getting a divorce. That said, even though you are now separated you should still set boundaries and rules in order to make your trial a success. Do trial separations work? Here’s how to ensure they do.
1. Create a timeframe
Don’t leave your trial separation to the hands of fate. Set a timeline so both parties have a clear understanding of how long they will have to figure out their issues before coming to a decision about the relationship.
2. Don’t date other people
Unless you are both 100% on board, dating other people during a trial separation is not recommended. This sets a precedent that when you would like to pursue sexual activities with someone who is not your partner, all you will have to do is call a trial separation into effect. If your goal of your trial separation is to truly work things out with one another you should remain committed to your marriage even during a separation. Do not use this time as an excuse to cheat.
3. Discuss your finances
Will one party be leaving the marital home, as mentioned above? If so, how are the finances being handled? Is one of you a dependent on the other who will need more financial assistance? Are there children involved? These are all important questions of finance to be considered during your separation.
4. Sexual guidelines
When you have been married to someone for long enough the idea of not being able to sleep together may seem strange during your trial separation. Discuss what your sexual boundaries will be with one another during your time apart. Will you still be engaging in sexual activity during this period? There is no wrong answer to this question.
Just because you are taking a break from your relationship doesn’t mean you should stop talking to one another. If your goal is to resume your relationship in a healthier state during your separation you should keep in communication, especially if you have children. Open and honest couples counselling may be beneficial during this time.
Do trial separations work? They do if you use your time apart wisely. A trial separation should be utilized for cooling off, working out your issues without constant bickering, and responsibly deciding where the relationship is headed.
Want to have a happier, healthier marriage?
If you feel disconnected or frustrated about the state of your marriage but want to avoid separation and/or divorce, the marriage.com course meant for married couples is an excellent resource to help you overcome the most challenging aspects of being married.