My spouse wants a trial separation. Does separating work to bring back appreciation?
If you choose to Stand, it is not the separation that may or may not work. It is what you do with it; how you Stand and treat him and how you Accept the crisis.
What are the conditions of the separation?
- Is this a midlife crisis?
- Is there an alienator?
- What sort of contact is your spouse willing to have with you during separation?
- Are you attending marriage counseling—together?
Is your spouse willing to work with you in action to heal your relationship?
- Is separation an excuse for leaving the marriage?
You are probably asking how can he learn to appreciate me if he refuses to work on our marriage? If he refuses to work on your marriage—which is what an MLCer will do—he will not be trying to appreciate you. He may think that is what he is doing, but MLCers are too wrapped up in their own crisis to devote energy to anything outside of themselves—even their own children.
He can rebuild appreciation by observing and experiencing how you respond to the situation.
Separation in itself is not bad; it can simply be a desire for space, solitude and time in the cave. I crave it, but I also get it without separate living. Are their options for separation that do not include separate residences? Solitary weekend get-aways? Long bicycle or motorcycle rides? What can your spouse do to get away or be alone for an afternoon ever week? For MLCers in or approaching Replay that is not going to appeal, but it may appeal to a person in a transition that is threatening the possibility of crisis.
Someone else’s crisis is not your fault. Your spouse may choose to leave and like it or not it will happen. What can you do to accept that reality? If infidelity is not playing a part (yet), what can you do to be supportive? Supporting does not mean you are agreeing, but rather you are accepting. What sort of separation is this? Is this a break from marital rules where your spouse thinks dating is allowed? Or is it simply space to breathe and find one’s Self?
MLCers leave; not all, but most. So like it or not separation is probably going to happen. What are you going to do with that situation? You can whine about the futility and beg him to change his mind? But how will he feel and how attractive is that behavior? Will that be giving him his space?
Discuss the parameters of the separation beforehand. What sort of contact does your MLCer want? You may want constant contact—that is already assumed. But this is his crisis and he needs for you to accept and respect his needs. He needs to feel safe rather than judged. You are afraid a separation will become permanent. He is afraid of that fear in you and what you will do with it. Let your MLCer initiate and control contact. He may want to meet with you weekly at home, his place or somewhere neutral. Some may want more. He may call you daily or request that you call him. He may give you permission to call as you need—don’t do it. If you need to call him daily; call once a week. If you need to call him multiple times in a day; call him once a week. If you feel the need to call him once week, call him every other week.
The more you accept the situation with Grace and love from a distance rather than by clinging, the greater your chances of reconciling in the future.
Accepting means that you love him. It means you listen to him. What are his needs and what are his complaints? How does he want you to change? Is he doing something wrong, immoral, unethical? If there is not an alienator and he is not trying to find and alienator, is he committing a sin by desiring personal space and time apart? Is he breaking his vow of for better or for worse or ‘til death do us part? In MLC that is a big IF since most MLCers eventually have an alienator, but not all have an alienator at this early stage. Some people have no intention of divorce; they merely want to separate and they intend to return. They may not realize the situation will change.
Statistically the odds for reconciliation after separation may be low. But what does that matter if MLCers leave anyway? Work with the situation you have, not the situation you wish you had and you have the chance to get the situation you want.
Should you give him permission to leave?
No, let your spouse know that he needs to do what he feels is best, you disagree and would like to discuss ways to help him and your marriage from within the marriage. But acknowledge that you cannot stop him and though you will not like the situation, you will live with whatever happens. But be firm about who leaves: the person wanting out leaves; do not move out of your home.
What should you do with your life if he leaves? How can you turn this situation positive?
Let’s first establish that beg-n-pleading and crying at him are not positive. Telling him how it’s his fault you are depressed and lonely is not positive.
Healthy relationships are not built by two people completing each other, rather they are built by two complete people who complement each other.
Are you a complete person? If not, now is your opportunity to complete yourself so that when your spouse returns, you can have a healthier, happier and more fulfilled marriage. Embrace this journey as a joyous opportunity for your Self.
What can or have you done to embrace the opportunity?
What sort of separation contact and guidelines do you and your spouse have?
How has this changed you for the better
What are you doing with your life now that you did not do before?