Do Trial Separations Work?

It may be counterintuitive, but sometimes spending time apart from your wife can save your marriage. When wondering if trial separations work, remember that if done with the right set of guidelines, a trial separation can go a long way towards helping your marriage.

There are a variety of trial separation rules that you can choose to follow. Limiting communication, financial arrangements, what to tell the children, whether to see a marriage counseler, and much more.

Do Trial Separations Work – Introduction
The general premise of a trial separation is to give both the husband and the wife a chance to clear their heads, miss the other person, and see what life is like without them.

While this is obviously a drastic step, it does give both people a chance to miss and appreciate each other. If you want to know how you can fix a relationship, there are several other options to try beforehand. Generally couples will first participate in marriage counseling, which can help them work through their differences. Many people will go on a couples retreat or marriage seminar and have had success resolving their differences that way.

However, after trying these options unsuccessfully, a trial separation may be worth a try. Dr. Norman Paul, a pschiatrist in Lexington, Mass. tried this technique with 40 couples as a test group – out of the 40, 29 ended up staying together. He believes it works because it allows couples to remember the good times without being reminded of the couples’ troubles constantly.

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Do Trial Separations Work – Codependence
While there are many reasons a couple may have problems, one of the most common can be codependency. Living alone for several months can give you the chance to feel self sufficient, to speak more openly, and to function independently.

Afterwards, your spouse won’t be blamed for everything that happens – you’ll understand that you do have some control and power over various situations.

Do Trial Separations Work – A Chance to Reflect
Another benefit of a trial separation is that it gives you a chance to reflect on your own behavior. If you have a spouse, children, and tons of responsibilities, it may be difficult to really understand how you are acting all the time.

Having the chance to clear the chatter and daily bickering, and to really reflect on who you are and what your behavior is like can be really beneficial to the marriage.

Do Trial Separations Work – Additional Benefits
One of the best things about a trial separation is that it maintains trust in the relationship. It’s completely different than if one of the people in the relationship just walked out on the other – because then their is always the fear it will happen again. With a trial separation, it’s more of a joint agreement with a plan.

Another, related benefit, is that unlike a break up, there is a plan to get back together at some point. So the parties can save face – they don’t have to swallow their pride to get back into the relationship. It’s completely different than an actual break up, where one may want to prove to the other that they can make it on their own, even though they really miss their partner.

Do Trial Separations Work – Disadvantages
The biggest disadvantage to a trial separation is the confusion of those around you, especially children. Your family and close friends may also be worried and confused about the sudden change in your relationship and your living arrangements. It’s important to be clear about the goals as well as what you tell your loved ones.

Another clear disadvantage is that one or both parties may decide that a divorce or break up is for the best. It may become an easy way to begin living alone and separating from their partner. By the time they’ve reached the point of divorce, each person may have learned to live without the other.

Do Trial Separations Work – Conclusion
Trial separations can work, but only if they are done carefully, with the couple exhausting all other options before trying it. A separation may be exactly what is needed in order to remind each other how much they love and appreciate the other person, and the marriage as a whole. Overall, a separation is a serious, last ditch effort to save the relationship. It’s not to be taken lightly – it may help you get past the problems in your relationship and show you how to get your relationship back, but it may also show you that a divorce is the best option.


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