Couple Conversations: Will a ‘Time Out’ Make Your Marriage Stronger?

Couple signing divorce papers

In most instances, the reason couples go their separate ways is they decided and made peace with the fact that they’re better off without each other. There are also cases when people split for the complete opposite, in the hopes of saving the marriage.

For sure, you have heard of such a strategy. Perhaps you’re at a point in your relationship when conflicts don’t seem to end — when there’s too much drama at home that you feel compelled to take a time out from your partner to avoid breaking up completely. Before taking a plunge into this setup, make sure that you and your spouse both understand what could happen and what’s supposed to happen.

What to Expect

Temporary separation is tricky. In some situations, it’s the key to fixing what’s wrong in the marriage. In others, it’s the final nail in the coffin. As Broomfield-based marriage counseling professionals noted, it’s beneficial at times because it allows you and your partner to have that space needed for reflecting on the status of the relationship.

You’re able to ponder about how you have gone distant the past weeks or years. You get to process the issues that hold both of you back from enjoying each other. More importantly, you’re able to mull over how you’ve become as a person in light of being with the other person.

In other words, you get to have your own personal thinking-through time. More than encouraging reflection, separation allows couples to cool down intense feelings. When the relationship has experienced emotionally charged conflicts, it’s better to give each other space before it escalates to more hurtful words or worse, physical violence.

At the same time, you should also be aware of the risks of temporary separation. For one, this can cause you and your spouse to drift apart. In your reflection, you might get fixated on the wrongs your partner did and realize that you want to call it quits. You may also be tempted to seek love from other sources, from another person or a vice. The same struggle can happen to your spouse, too.

Temporary separation is a double-edged sword, but there are ways to maximize the positives and reduce its negatives. The key is in being on the same page with your spouse.

How You Can Make it Work

Marriage counseling

It’s crucial that before you take the time off, you have to communicate your goals and expectations. Don’t assume that you have the same perspective. If your partner wants to communicate less during this period, but you want to talk to them every day, that’s going to be a big issue down the road.

If your goal is to fix issues in your marriage and this is just a temporary break, but the other thinks that it’s a prelude to divorce, you’re setting yourself up for deep trouble. Try to reach an agreement on your expectations and goals. Lay down everything, so no one is left in the dark. It’s best if you can get third-party support — a counselor, for example. They can guide you not just in setting realistic expectations and goals, but also facilitate thinking patterns that help hit your objectives.

Even though you’re away from each other, it doesn’t mean communication should stop. Not talking for extended periods is the surest way to marriage failure. Communicate regularly, and that depends on your agreement. That could be every day, thrice a week, or twice every other day. The important thing is don’t stop communicating.

As mentioned, a temporary separation can work for or against your relationship. If you are already thinking of splitting up from the beginning and you’re just using this strategy to make the separation easier, don’t do it. Be honest with your partner that you want out. If you genuinely want to fix things and restore your relationship, then go ahead and take the time out.

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