Sometimes, a trial separation is exactly what a couple needs to last forever.
There are times when friction between two spouses or an unmarried couple can be so intense that the only wise, mature choice is a separation. When two people truly want to work out their differences but can’t, my clients and I call this type of separation an intermission.
Sometimes a couple can return for act two, but there are other times when returning only results in continued rage. Here are the types of relationships where an intermission will not work, at least without a great deal of work and a strong desire to salvage the relationship:
One partner is not ready for a commitment and longs for time to experience other relationships. One partner is so tied to a parent(s) that a partner or potential partner’s desires cannot be shown respect, and a mature discussion is unable to occur. In second marriages, children from a first marraige or relationship are allowed to disrespect one’s present partner. Addictions of various sorts rule a partner’s life. A partner still has a serious longing for a former partner. A partner has enormous rage toward parents or a previous partner.
If you are experiencing these obstacles, however, I promise that if the love is strong as well as sincere, these types of challenges can be overcome. On the other hand, the relationships described in the following situations can surely be saved after taking an intermission, especially if both partners are committed to trying to work things out: Are Your Partner’s Social Skills Embarrassing?
One partner has not sufficiently mourned the death of a loved one (partner, child, or parent), prior to committing to another relationship. One or both partners knows that his or her parents or children are not showing appropriate respect, but does not know how to set appropriate boundaries. One or both partners are overly critical or controlling and wishes to address these issues.
One or both partners fear a close sexual relationship when in a committed relationship. One or both partners has extreme work related anxieties. This unpredictable economic time is causing partners to turn against one another. One or both partners, for various reasons, does not allow time for closeness, conversation or time alone.
Remember, all problems are salvagable with mutual determination. Finding a professional who you trust to help with obstacles is always a wise choice.
I often think of Kramer vs. Kramer , a 1979 American drama film starring a very young Meryl Streep and Dustin Hoffman (adopted from a novel by Avery Korman), and urge struggling clients, especially those with children, to find it. The divorce shown in this excellent film is a perfect example of one that did not have to happen and that could have been avoided.