Can Taking A “Timeout” Really Save Your Relationship?
Look, everyone has habits that can get you down and drive you crazy. Too much “togetherness” causes people to lose sight of who they are as an individual and what they want. People change over the course of time, and sometimes they change in ways that aren’t congruent with how their partners have changed. Honestly, after a long time of being together, people not only lose their sense of self but also who their partner is, who their partner really is to them, and who they are as a person. So, yes, sometimes a little time apart can save a relationship.
Don’t get me wrong, there are three main reasons why people take a step back – it’s either a step towards divorce or breaking up, they need perspective on the relationship/marriage, or they need to enhance the relationship; which sounds more sordid than it actually is. Those old adages turned oldies classics are true – “you can’t always get what you want,” and “you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone.” A little time apart puts a stark contrast into their lives – this is what it would be like if you’re not in a relationship with that person.
Communication is paramount for any relationship, and the most important thing you need to realize is how everyday life can get in the way of that. When that happens, happiness and patience go out the window. Time apart can help one regain perspective and will help make the time you do spend together be constructive, honest, and productive.
Separating for a pre-arranged period can help both partners remember the reasons why they fell in love in the first place and enjoy time together without being reminded of the difficulties of everyday life.
Yes, we are talking about dating your spouse/significant other.
At this point, the hard part is deciding when a trial separation would do more harm than good. After all, approximately 10 percent of all currently-married couples (9 percent of white women and 14 percent of black women) in the United States have separated and reconciled. Sure, that sounds pretty dire but that statistic is twenty years old and may no longer be relevant.
Remember – a trial separation is a serious thing. It’s a last resort to provoke change in a relationship, this isn’t something to enter into lightly. Yes, a separation can be the spark that reignites the relationship… but it can also, perhaps easily, show one or both of you that divorce is the only option left for you.
In any event, here are some tips for a successful regrowth separation period:
Set Reasonable Expectations. Ground rules are a must to maintain trust. If one person expects some sort of communication everyday and the other one does not, this can hurt feelings. Knowing what to expect and what is expected from you will help avoid this situation.
Maintain Regular Communication. No contact at all for an extended amount of time actually will hurt the connection between the couple. Instead of thinking “absence makes the heart grow fonder,” it can be more like out of sight, out of mind.
Remember Your Goals & Communicate Them. Don’t assume everyone has the same goal. You both need to agree that the intent of living apart is enhancing your partnership. If one thinks the separation is the first step in dissolving the union and the other thinks of it as some space to breathe, this can cause major issues. Having the same goal is particularly important into making it successful.
Have A Neutral Party Involved. Some people can do this on their own but an impartial third party can help. It can be tricky, especially if there’s some tension or problems between the couple. Good ideas for a third party can be a therapist, lawyer, mediator, or a member of the clergy.