Is Separation Right for You?

Posted by on Mar 31, 2014 in Couples Counseling, Couples Counseling For One, Healthy Separation and/or Divorce Counseling | Comments Off on Is Separation Right for You?

Why separation is not always a stepping-stone to divorce.

Many people begin contemplating divorce when their relationships become extremely strained or distant. They become overwhelmed by emotions like resentment, hurt, and anger. A divorce seems like a way to end or escape the discomfort.

Although divorce is a major decision, with many implications, couples are often reluctant or unwilling to consider a trial separation because they believe it is merely a precursor to divorce. They do not see it has having the potential to be productive and useful.

Trial separations can, in fact, help many couples decide which direction to go.

Separation might be productive for your relationship if: 

You are unsure why you want out of the relationship. If you do not know, separation can provide an opportunity to clarify. 

  • Can you put your finger on what’s wrong with the relationship?
  • Is divorce really the best course?
  • Are there some valid reasons for staying together?

You believe your relationship is salvageable. Some issues, like poor communication, are fixable whereas others, like recurrent affairs and violence, are unlikely to get better. Sometimes it is easier to do this work with a little space and distance.

  • Are the problems between you addressable?
  • Do you appreciate time to “cool off” after discussing relationship issues?

You are willing to work on problems.

  • Are you committed to improving the relationship?
  • Have one or both of you expressed a desire to talk about problems or meet with a counselor?

You are not completely sure you want to divorce. Separation provides both parties with a glimpse of what it would be like to no longer be together.  

  • Are you 100 percent positive that divorce is the best option?
  • Do the financial consequences, custody arrangements, and household divisions that accompany divorce raise more doubt than clarity about ending your relationship?

Separation is unlikely to lead to reconciliation if:

One or both of you is irretrievably committed to ending the relationship.

  • Has one of you completely shut down attempts to continue the relationship?
  • Has a divorce attorney been retained or papers filed?
  • Are you involved in a new relationship?

There are no positive feelings left between you and your partner.

  • Are there any love left between you?
  • Do you still value your partner as a person?
  • Is there any affection or warmth in your marriage?

You blame your partner for all of the problems in the relationship.

  • Do you believe your partner is to blame for your relationship problems?
  • Do you feel that your partner is the problem in your relationship?

You have an agenda for separating, such as an attempt to get your partner to change or see things your way.

  • Are one or both of you attempting to use separation as a means to control or manipulate the other?
  • Have you threatened separation in order to punish your spouse or force your partner to behave in ways that make you more comfortable?

Counseling can play an extremely helpful role in helping couples navigate the emotions, changes, and choices that come with deciding to spend some time apart. Consider the help of a therapist to navigate your commitment to each other, build support, and determine the future course of your relationship.

What you should know about “legal separation” in Texas:

Texas has no laws regarding legal separation, which means couples must completely divorce or stay married.

  • This does not mean you cannot live separately, but any income you earn and any property you buy will be considered jointly owned.  
  • Separation in Texas requires no legal action. It occurs when a couple decides to live apart.


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