Taking a Break to Save the Marriage

It seems to many that if the couple decides to “take a break from each other,” they simply delay the inevitable and already predetermine the end of the relationship. But what if sometimes we need to give ourselves “psychological leave” to save the marriage?

The divorce rate in our time is extremely high, so any way to deal with this phenomenon deserves attention. Although there are no universal recipes, a temporary separation can give spouses the necessary time and distance to reconsider their views on the most important issues. Perhaps, thanks to this, the storm will calm down, and peace and harmony will return to the family union.

·      When to think about a temporary breakup? 

First of all, it is important to assess the level of emotional exhaustion. If one of you (or both of you) is so exhausted that you can’t give anything to the other, then it’s time to talk about what a pause can give both.

·      Maybe sex is the reason?

Intimate life is a significant part of relationships, and it cannot be considered separately from them. Perhaps the difficulties in it and the lack of understanding between you indicate that there are some difficulties in intimate communicating.

Try to analyze what exactly you do not like during sex with your husband, pretend to be strangers and go on a first date, add new colors to your routine. Is it difficult for you to understand what your partner wants, or is it difficult to enjoy yourself? Perhaps, if you single out a specific stage at which difficulty arises, you will be able to think about it and possibly discuss it with your husband.

Talk to them about what they like about sex. Surely after years of marriage, both of you have accumulated thoughts on this subject. Perhaps you could take the initiative and experiment. Nothing in this should scare you very much.

·      Hopes and reality

Is there even the slightest hope for a successful outcome? Perhaps you are afraid of the prospect of divorce and future loneliness? This is enough to try to live separately first and see what happens in these new conditions.

Before making a final decision, you need to decide on practical issues:

  • How long will your breakup last?
  • Who will you tell about your decision?
  • How will you maintain communication during separation (by phone, email, etc.)?
  • Who will go to visits, to parties, events, if they invite both of you?
  • Who will pay the bills?
  • Will you share finances?
  • How will you tell the children about your decision?
  • Who will pick up the children from school?
  • Who will stay at home and who will move out?
  • Do you allow each other to date someone else?

These are difficult questions that cause a lot of emotions. It’s important to consult a therapist before breaking up and continue therapy during this period. This will help not to violate the agreements and deal with emerging concerns promptly.

·      Some more questions to answer concerning practical aspects

Suppose you decide that a temporary breakup can benefit you. What is the best way to focus to get the most out of this period? Ask yourself:

  • What could you do differently in the past to strengthen your relationship?
  • What are you ready to change now to save your union?
  • What is required from a partner for the relationship to continue?
  • What do you like about your partner, what will be missed during his absence? Are you ready to tell him about this?
  • Are you ready to maintain a state of awareness while communicating with a partner – or at least try to do it?
  • Are you ready to forgive past mistakes and try to start all over again?
  • Are you ready to have a romantic evening every week? To regain emotional closeness, it is sometimes important to spend time alone with a partner.
  • Are you ready to learn new ways of communication so as not to repeat old mistakes?

There are no universal rules

An individual approach is important because each pair is unique. How long should a trial period of life apart be? Some psychotherapists talk about six months, others about shorter periods. Some recommend that you do not start a new relationship during this period, while others believe that you should not resist the call of the heart. 

Do not rely on your gut, seek professional help. Find a therapist who has experience in such situations. This is the best way to overcome all the difficulties that may arise in the process of temporary separation.

If you are desperate and have lost all hope, remember that the partner is not an enemy to you (even if it seems to you now). You still have a chance to bring back the former joy of intimacy. Yes, it’s hard to believe, but maybe the one sitting opposite you at the dinner table is still your best friend and soul mate.

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