Relationships are hard work, even on the best of days. But if you and your significant other have hit a decidedly rough patch, the struggle to strike a healthy compromise can take a toll on both of you. Aside from venting to a trusted family member or confiding in your best friends, how will you know if your marital issues are serious enough to warrant taking a break? As it turns out, there are actually quite a few signs you and your spouse should temporarily separate.
Not too long ago, a friend of mine told me she and her husband were taking the steps towards separation. At first, I was shocked since their social media posts would have you thinking their marriage was nothing short of a Disney fairy tale. However, even the happiest couples can reach a tipping point where being apart is healthier than being together. And if there are kids involved, that decision could benefit the entire family. In the end, realizing what life would look like if this distance was permanent, they worked with a therapist to resolve their issues. Your story may or may not be similar, but it's good to take note of the following signs and see if you and you spouse should and temporarily separate.
1. You're Stuck
Have you ever felt like your relationship isn't moving forward, or even backwards? As relationship coach Sharon Pope told Mind Body Green, "when a relationship is in a broken place, a separation provides a compassionate 'pause button.'" Allowing you and your partner the time and space to truly reflect on the root of your relationship problems could be the key.
2. Your Trust Has Been Broken
Growing up, my mom hammered home the importance of trust and how hard it is to earn. Similarly, as therapist Susan Pease Gadoua told Psychology Today, if you and your spouse have trust issues, a trial separation could actually help you rebuild the connection that was lost. It's not an overnight cure, but it could give both of you a new perspective.
3. You Fight About Finances
Do you hold your breath every time you check your joint bank account? If so, that could be an indication that separation is in your marital future. As marriage counselor Aaron Anderson told HuffPost, finances are a common issue for many couples. Rather than arguing over who spent what, Anderson further explained that a temporary separation shows you what your real expenses are. This makes sense since you'd only have yourself to hold accountable for budgeting in a separation scenario.
4. You're Not Happy
Sometimes the best answer is the simplest one. As dating coach and matchmaker Bela Gandhi told the website for The Today Show, the top sign you and your spouse should separate is if you are unhappy. At the end of the day, if you find yourself filled with discontent, don't ignore that basic emotion.
5. Your Identity Is Lost
Sometimes, a marriage can so overwhelming and consuming, that you lose yourself in the process. As therapist Bob Taibbi told Psychology Today, a realization that you need to rediscover yourself is a sign that a temporary separation could benefit you and your spouse. Establishing your identity and independence is vital both in and out of a relationship.
6. You're Ambivalent
Some days, you are 100 percent certain divorce is imminent. But on other days, you think things might just work out after all. If this back-and-forth pattern of thinking sounds familiar to you, a trial separation could help. As Pope told Mind Body Green, when you're feeling ambivalent in your marriage, a separation allows emotions to come through. You'll know whether or not you miss your partner or finally feel liberated.
7. You Stay Away From One Another
Does the thought of having to interact with your partner make your stomach uneasy? As Gandhi told the site for The Today Show, if you and your spouse are avoiding each other, you should separate temporarily to evaluate the reasons why you don't enjoy sharing the same space anymore. There's no guarantee what the answer will be, but at least you'll have one.