If your conflict is destructive or very difficult to manage, or one that leads you to believe that the relationship is simply not working anymore, you might want to try a trial separation. Trial separations also involve a physical move, but tend to be longer-term than brief separations.
Many couples choose a trial separation after revelation of an affair or recognition of long-term dissatisfaction in the relationship. Sometimes, a person will ask for a trial separation as a cover for an affair or to be free to date, or to soften the blow of asking for a permanent separation or divorce.
What to Expect in a Trial Separation
- If you choose trial separation you must understand that the relationship is at risk to end. I would suggest that you at least not go into the separation expecting that you and your partner will automatically reunite. That decision has to be left open for future consideration, which can be very unsettling and painful for one or both partners.
- During trial separations, your goal may not be to work on the relationship, but to work on yourself. This must be clarified. So much will be revealed in the course of the separation. You will get a real taste of life without your partner and begin to see what it would be like to permanently separate.
- Often one partner wants this type of separation more than the other. One partner may feel an enormous sense of relief at finally being free to be themselves, while the other partner feels fear, insecurity, abandonment, anger, and rejection. But surprises happen, too. Sometimes the partner who chooses the separation discovers how much he or she appreciates and loves his or her partner. Sometimes the partner who is left is the one who ends up experiencing the greatest sense of relief.
- Trial separations should reveal what needs to change in the relationship to make it work again. Whether both are ready and willing to work is often a battle between partners.
Taking Space – How to Use Separation to Explore the Future of Your Relationship
Available in paperback and ebook editions
Audio Course: How to Structure and Manage a Separation – Steps 4 & 5
Available for download or as a CD
The Separation Agreement
Available for download or as a hard copy