So you find yourself in that scary place called separation and perhaps you are wondering how to rekindle a marriage after separation.
No doubt the separation has come after months or even years of tension and turmoil in your marriage. Eventually, the point was reached by one or both spouses where separation seemed like the best option. The way you feel about your marriage separation would depend to a large extent on whether you were the one to initiate it or not, and of course what the reasons were for the trouble in your marriage.
Regardless of the underlying issues, separation is usually an intensely emotional time for both partners who find themselves suspended somewhere between marriage and divorce. Feelings of uncertainty, fear, and loneliness are to be expected. However, a separation in marriage can also serve as a valuable wake-up call, giving both of you time for reflection.
The following 12 steps can be helpful regarding how to rekindle a marriage during separation
1. Take it slowly
Give yourself and your spouse all the time you need and realize that you cannot rush or force a deep change of heart.
Take time to think carefully about everything you say and do. Impulsive or hasty decisions can be some of the ones we most regret, but when you have thought things through thoroughly you will be able to make a decision you won’t regret later. The last thing you want is a quick “patch up” which will inevitably not last if the underlying issues have not been dealt with.
2. Control your anger and blaming
If you are seeking to be reconciled with your spouse it is counterproductive to spew out anger, hatred and blame towards him or her. This will only drive you further apart, increasing the resentment and hostility between you. You need to reach a place of being able to share your hurt in a constructive manner with a view to understanding and cooperation in overcoming the problems in your relationship.
Take responsibility for your own actions and attitudes rather than blaming the other person.
3. Create healthy boundaries
During the time of separation, it is important to create healthy boundaries by communicating your expectations and setting ground rules. This may include refraining from sexual intimacy while you both take time to deal with your emotions.
If there are children involved it is also important that clear boundaries are adhered to regarding visits and contact so that the children do not become alienated from one or other parent. Handling of finances is another practical area where clear agreements need to be reached.
4. Identify and work on root issues
The time of separation can be a very valuable opportunity to step back and get perspective on your marriage. It is especially important that you try to identify the root issues that have caused you to come to this point. Perhaps the cause seems obvious, such as having an affair, or an addiction.
However, behind this behavior there are probably several underlying root causes, often going back to negative childhood experiences which have not been properly processed. Once you have identified the root issues, it is important that both of you are willing to work on these issues. It may be necessary to get help from an objective third party such as a professional marriage counselor or your pastor or priest.
Both parties need to be willing to take responsibility for their own behaviour and to ask forgiveness of one another.
If you are both open to forgive and learn through your difficult experiences, you can embrace this opportunity to change and grow close to one another again.
5. Start with occasional dates
After a significant time of separation, when you both start to feel ready for closer contact, it is a good idea to start with occasional dates. Look for opportunities to interact with your spouse in a pleasant atmosphere. Try to find ways to treat them with respect and kindness. Try to remember and help each other to remember why you fell in love in the first place.
6. Look to the future
When you are seeking to rekindle your marriage after a time of separation there comes a point when you need to leave the past behind you and look to the future. No matter what has happened between you, if you are both willing to learn new and positive patterns of relating to one another you can look forward to a happier future.
Your marriage can be renewed and strengthened and you will be able to look back on your time of separation as a valuable turning point for the better.
7. Be very honest with yourself right from the beginning
Know that you are doing this because you 100% want to get back together; if any doubts persist in your mind, then seek a mediator, a counselor who could help you determine this. If you’re sure that you definitely want to save your marriage after separation, then you must invest enough to make some changes to enjoy a healthy and intimate connection with your partner again.
8. Prioritize your relationship
Remember that once you decide to give your relationship another chance, you must prioritize it over everything else in your life. This means prioritizing it over children, work, friends, in-laws, hobbies or your egos. You both must be dedicated and jointly responsible for nourishing your connection much like you would take care of your own child.
9. Respect your partner
Another step towards repairing your relationship is learning to respect your partner all over again.
There may be feelings of anger and resentment still in your heart because of your past but you need to let them all go. You need to love and respect your partner for who they truly are…Once you are able to achieve this, you can find a way to work through your differences in a manner that is kind and thoughtful. This must be the foundation and the very basis of your marriage and relationship.
10. Be kind and compassionate
The simple act of always being kind and compassionate towards one another can save a relationship.
If you embrace this attitude of always being kind and respectful towards your spouse, you will be able to resolve conflicts more effectively. Being mindful about this is essential for a lasting relationship. For example, if you find yourself to be angry with your spouse, you can still exhibit kindness by not being overly mean or critical of them.
There’s no need to speak condescendingly or make mean remarks, instead, cool down and explain your point when you know you both can talk about it nicely.
On any given day, choose kindness over winning an argument.
11. Express yourself
By expressing yourself, you let feelings of trust seep back in the relationship. Real intimacy is what keeps a marriage thriving. You can express yourself in a variety of ways:
- Express your emotions when you share light moments, physical affection, non-sexual touching
- Allow yourself to be vulnerable with your partner and let them be vulnerable too
- Talk about your day, important experiences, opinions, share fun moments together.
12. Have fun together
Make it a priority to have fun together as a couple once again.
Not all is perfect in your life and relationship but that’s how life is. Take some time out to have a little adventure with your spouse. This will enable you to reconnect together as a couple; just like you’re did in the early days of your relationship. Yes, separation makes things complicated but this is your own unique way to show you still care about your significant other.
If your relationship is precious to you, and you don’t want to fall apart again, then take the initiative to surmount your problems as a couple again and rekindle the love.
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.
More by Rosemary K