Trial separations happen in marriages, and contrary to popular belief they don’t always spell out the end of your relationship. A trial separation means that two parties have decided to take a break in their relationship and to use their time apart to decide whether they want to continue working at the relationship. This solitude can help you evaluate problems objectively, experience what life alone would be like, and get a taste of freedom. Sort of like an ‘On Hold’ button for marriage.
As the name implies, trial separations usually involves living in separate living quarters. So, how can you have a trial separation in the same house? Whether due to financial stipulations or family obligations, sometimes you don’t always have the option of leaving your shared home. Here are some helpful guidelines for making your trial separation a success when staying in the same house together.
Common reasons for a trial separation
Trial separations are more common than you think. Here are three of the most common reasons people decide to take a break from their relationships.
Extramarital affairs are a common cause for trial separation due to the devastation they bring. Trust is the most difficult aspect of a relationship to rebuild. Even if you do get back together at the end of your trial separation, it may be near impossible to get back the trust you once had for your partner. Infidelity can also cause a once faithful partner to retaliate by cheating themselves.
Adultery is an almost immediate killer in relationships as it causes deep heartache and grief. Not only is this detrimental to both parties happiness, it can also fundamentally change your personality. Feelings of anxiety, insignificance, and depression can fester. Grief associated with cheating can ever trigger symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
2. Empty nesters
The hustle and bustle of having children at home and then suddenly gone off to college or getting married can leave parents feeling unneeded and plucked from their routine. This is why many couples separate once their children leave home. This also happens when parents become so focused on raising their children that they forget to continue dating one another. They forget that they are individuals, not just parents.
Drug and alcohol addictions can also garner distrust in a relationship and lead to separation. Substance abuse encourages poor spending, instability both emotionally and financially, and rapid mood swings and out-of-character behavior that can push your relationship over the edge.
How to have a trial separation in the same house
While many couples emotionally separate during this period, it doesn’t mean they have to separate physically. Trial separations commonly occur in the same house, especially when young children are present. Here are some guidelines to follow to make your trial separation in the same house a success.
1. Establish truce and explain yourselves
As trial separation in the same house will do you no good if you spend the entire process arguing. Agree for the length of the separation to call a truce and put your bickering to the side. You also have to explain your reason for wanting to separate. Lay your issues bare.
2. Set rules
Are you going to be seeing other people during your separation? Are you still allowed to call or text one another during this time? How will you divvy up finances or a shared vehicle? Are you planning on getting back together at the end of the separation, or are you simply waiting for one party to save up enough money to leave? Will you remain sexually intimate during your separation? These are all ground rules you need to establish when you have a trial separation in the same house.
3. Create structure
A trial separation implies taking time apart from one another to figure things out and decide how you want to proceed with a relationship. So, how can you take your alone time while you’re living in the same house?
This is where creating a structure for your separation comes into play. You need to decide if you will be speaking to one another in the home or if you want to act cordially toward one another without actually spending time together.
4. Consider children
Structure is especially important if the two of you have children together. Take the time to discuss whether you will be making decisions as separated parents or as a united front.
If remaining united, you’ll want to maintain a routine in order to keep the child feeling safe and secure. This includes maintaining your schedule of who makes dinner, who picks your children up from school, and how you spend your Sunday nights together. If you have made a routine of eating breakfast or dinner together as a family, keep doing so.
Cordially maintain a routine and be sensitive to the effects your relationship status may have on your children. For example, how would seeing you bring a date home affect your child, should you decide that you are allowed to see other people during your trial separation? Always be mindful.
5. Set a timeline
Setting a timeline is a great way to avoid unwanted surprises for your trial separation. Decide together how much time you’re willing to give the trial separation and be adamant about coming back together at the end of this period to discuss the fate of your relationship. This gives both parties an exact idea of the timeline.
6. Let it happen
You may find that at one point you were adamant about ending your relationship. But, as the trial separation goes on and you get a better idea of your life as a single, you may find you’re coming around to your partner more and more. If you find that you begin sleeping in the same bed once more or spending your nights together – just enjoy it. There is no need to question every single aspect of your interactions. If you are going to stay together it will be obvious.
A trial separation in the same house can work
If you are the one calling for the separation, be courteous and mindful of your partner knowing that you must still share a space together. If you are on the opposite end and do not wish to separate, you should still show your partner respect by giving them the space they need to make their decision.
A trial separation in the same house is possible, so long as you set the ground rules and show common courtesy to one another before you reconvene to make your decision.