On the day you each said “I do,” you never imagined that your marriage could one day deteriorate to the point it now has. As you contemplate a trial separation, you may feel hopeless about the current state of your relationship and wonder if it is even salvageable. In order to prevent any further destruction, contemplate the following questions together with your spouse before embarking upon your own separate journeys.
Will You Seek Counseling?
Finding a counselor to help you work through the issues plaguing your marriage can be essential to making it through a separation still intact as a couple, according to Susan Pease Gadoua, author of “Contemplating Divorce, a Step-by-Step Guide to Deciding Whether to Stay or Go.” If both partners in a relationship are not open to counseling, however, the effort can be fruitless. Discuss counseling options with your spouse and determine whether it is a step you each would be willing to pursue.
What are the Rules?
Taking the time to define the rules of your separation ahead of time will help to ease any further emotional struggles between the two of you, according to divorce coach Debra Block. Discuss issues such as how often you hope to communicate during your separation and whether you will remain monogamous while apart. These can prove difficult questions to contemplate, but having everything on the table will help you both avoid the anxiety caused by not knowing further into your separation.
Is There a Timeline?
It isn’t at all uncommon for a six-month separation to spread out over years. according to California divorce attorney Celeste Liversidge. Often couples can find a place of comfort in their separation and not want to face the task of actually filing for divorce. If you want to avoid remaining in a state of perpetual limbo, however, you may want to come to a mutual agreement about how long you would like to remain separated. Set an end-date for your separation and strive to make a decision about the state of your relationship by that point.
What is the Ultimate Goal?
Make sure you are both clear on your overall goals for this separation. It is important to know if you aren’t on the same page up front, according to Gadoua. If you view this separation as a stepping stone towards divorce while your spouse sees it as an opportunity to save your marriage, you could be setting yourselves up for more hurt by not being honest about your feelings. If you or your spouse is past the point of wanting to save this marriage, acknowledging that from the start can avoid further feelings of betrayal down the line.