If your marriage has reached the point where you are considering a trial separation, you may well be looking for some helpful trial separation guidelines. In fact, every marriage is as unique as the individuals in it and you will have to discover for yourself what does or does not work in your particular situation. A well thought out separation can give each spouse a valuable chance to assess their role in the marital problems and to experience how they feel when they are not seeing each other regularly.
When it comes to marriage separation rules or trial separation tips, it is helpful to take the following three thoughts into consideration:
1. Trial is a trial
The very word “trial” is indicative of the temporary nature of the separation. It means that you are going to “try it out” and see what the result will be. There is a fifty-fifty chance that the separation could result in either divorce or reconciliation. It is similar to when you start a new job and you are on three months “probation” (or trial). The quality of your work during those months of trial will determine whether or not you are placed on the permanent staff.
In the same way, to a large extent what you do during your time of marriage trial separation will determine whether or not there is a future for you as a married couple. Unlike the work situation, however, there are two parties involved and a successful outcome is possible only when both are willing to put in the necessary effort to mend their marriage. All the love, longing and long suffering in the world will not be enough to save a marriage if it is only one-sided. In this sense, a trial separation can be an important time of seeing clearly whether one or both parties are still motivated to save their marriage.
2. Be serious or don’t bother
With regard to motivation, if both spouses are not equally motivated to spend time in reflection and work on resolving their issues, then it is not worth bothering with a trial separation.
Some spouses see a time of trial separation as an opportunity to start other romantic relationships and to enjoy their “freedom”. This is counterproductive and defeats the purpose of working on your existing marriage with a view to restoration and healing. If that is what you want to do you might as well file for divorce immediately without bothering to have a trial separation.
Another indication of whether someone is serious about restoring their marriage is if they continue to blame their spouse for the problems in the marriage. Only when both partners are able to acknowledge their own faults and weaknesses, recognising that each one has contributed to the breakdown, then there is some hope of reconciliation. If there is no acknowledgement of wrongdoing by one party, then a trial separation is probably going to be a waste of time.
3. Don’t try and work it out alone
You may wonder, does a trial separation even work? Firstly, in all likelihood, you and your spouse have not reached the place of considering a trial separation overnight. It has probably taken weeks, months or even years of struggling and fighting and desperately trying to work things out together. The fact that you are separating is an indication that you did not succeed in working it out alone.
A trial separation is the ideal time to start marriage counselling or couple therapy if you have not done so already. With the help of a qualified professional counsellor or therapist, it is possible to see your problems from a different perspective and to get help with resolving them. If you keep on doing the same negative things in your marriage, you are going to get the same negative results. It is therefore imperative for both of you to learn new and positive ways of relating to each other and especially how to resolve conflicts in a healthy and positive way. On the topic of getting outside help, many couples find that praying together and for each other is extremely beneficial in bringing them closer in their relationship.
What to do during a trial separation?
Here are some additional things to keep in mind about a trial separation:
- Determine a time frame
- Set clear and set boundaries
- Stay committed to couples therapy
- Discuss and plan your financial obligations
- Discuss if you will remain intimate or not
- Work on problems together; don’t assume they will go away on their own
- Don’t let your relationship be an ‘on-again’ ‘off-again’ affair
- Express your feelings, desires and plans for the future
- Don’t change your core beliefs and values to save your marriage
As you take these thoughts into consideration, especially if you are looking for some marriage separation guidelines, you may realize that at the end of the day, it is the attitude of the heart that makes all the difference. Numerous marriage trial separation rules could be listed, but ultimately the question is whether or not both of you still love each other enough to put aside your own hurts and pride, to forgive each other and to continue to learn and grow together in your marriage.