Are you and your wife talking about separation? Or perhaps you’re thinking about it, but haven’t told her yet. Thinking about separation is scary – but it can also feel like the only option.
But what if it isn’t? Of course in some cases, a marriage truly has run its course, and certainly, in cases of abuse, it’s necessary to step away. But some marriages can be saved, with a few simple changes and a strong commitment to work together on mending the relationship.
If you’re considering separating from your wife, try these 11 things first.
1. Be honest with yourself
Before separating from your wife, it’s important to be really honest with yourself. Ask yourself:
- Why do you really want to end the marriage? Sometimes you truly want it to end, but sometimes what you actually want is for things to change.
- What would need to change for you to feel happy in your marriage?
- Are you blaming your wife unfairly for your own unhappiness? Sometimes what we really need is to pay more attention to our own needs and take better care of our own well being instead of expecting our partner to do it.
2. Be honest with her
You’ll need to be honest with your wife, too. Talking openly about relationship problems is fraught at the best of times, so do your best to approach the subject with kindness and compassion – the discussion is much more likely to have a positive outcome.
3. Admit your flaws
Nobody is perfect – that’s just being human. But it’s all too easy to blame your wife for everything wrong in your marriage without looking at your own behavior. Ask yourself honestly if there are ways you could be a better partner. Taking responsibility will make it easier to work together on mending the relationship.
4. Identify and communicate your needs
Identifying and communicating your needs, and encouraging your wife to do the same, can help mend your marriage. Sometimes a problem is as simple as not communicating your needs clearly, and thus not having them met. Be honest with yourselves and each other about what you each need from the relationship.
5. Learn each other’s relationship style
Everyone has a different relationship style. Some people need a lot of alone time. Some need a lot of physical affection. Some show love by making sweet gestures, others show it by doing practical things like taking out the trash. Get to know each other’s relationship style so you can understand each other better.
6. Learn healthy communication
Healthy communication is important at every stage of marriage and never more so than when you are trying to save one. Learn to talk without accusing and listen without judging so that you and your wife both have the space to be heard and validated.
7. Ask the right questions
If you’re thinking about separating, chances are things are already pretty fraught. You’ll probably be asking questions like “what went wrong?” or “why does she do that / doesn’t do this?” Instead, try asking your wife questions such as “what would make you happier in our marriage? How can I be a better partner to you?”, and encourage her to ask you the same questions in return.
8. Make time for each other
Feeling disconnected is fatal for a marriage. If you’ve been drifting apart, some time spent reconnecting could be the first step in reconciling with your wife. Make sometime each week to do something you both enjoy (pick something that doesn’t generally cause arguments!) Take a little time each day to check in with each other and just talk about yourselves and each other, instead of about work, family or your problems.
9. Try something new
If you’re stuck in a rut, it’s time to get out of it. Talk to your wife about taking a class together, trying a new hobby, or even checking out a new restaurant or cinema. Doing something new together might just be enough to rekindle your connection and restore your faith in your relationship.
10. Don’t try to change her
Trying to change your wife won’t make either of you happy. Be honest with yourself about whether you can foresee a happy future with your her. It’s also helpful to learn to let the little things go. If she’s untidier than you or has a habit of procrastinating, can you live with it? Letting the little things go makes space for you both to focus on what really matters – your values, your aims, and the reasons you got married in the first place.
11. See a relationship therapist
There’s no shame in visiting a relationship therapist if things are tough. They’re trained to help you both get the clarity you need so you can move forward. Talk to your wife about booking an appointment so you can both get some support with untangling your problems.
Relationship problems don’t have to spell divorce. Sometimes a few tweaks is all it takes to save your marriage.