Taking time out is not a resource that can be used when you feel like it, but sometimes the marriage comes to an untenable point and there is no other alternative. Your spouse may not even be surprised, which doesn't lessen the emotional shock that must be taken into account.
Part 1 of 3: Talking to Your Spouse
Step 1. Prepare your partner
It's not nice to catch the person by surprise with an unexpected request. It's good to alert the other that you want to have a serious conversation so that they can prepare themselves psychologically for the bomb, even if they don't have much idea what you intend to say.
- An example is saying: “I wanted to talk about the direction of our relationship. Can we set aside a little time for this as soon as possible?”
- This kind of indirect already gives some tips for your partner.
- Also, choose a good time for the dialogue, which should take place in person. This type of conversation can't be taken by email or phone – it needs to be face-to-face. So, it's best to choose a time when your partner has the time and conditions to deal with the matter, without any distractions or worries in the air. Anyone who has children can leave the children with someone, for example. It's not nice to keep putting it off, but don't be clueless. If your spouse's father died last week, it's good to wait a little longer – timing is everything.
Step 2. Express your fears and expectations
We often go around to avoid the subject, but the best thing is to get straight to the point, without leaving the kindness aside. In addition, you need to make it clear that you take responsibility for the request and explain why you want to take a break.
- Direct the topic of conversation by saying something like, “I don't think we're getting along more recently. We are further away. I wanted to talk to you about the possibility of taking a break.”
- Don't be embarrassed to express your feelings: “I have a feeling that if we keep this up, we're going to fight and fight until divorce is inevitable. Being away for a while, at least we can think about everything better without further straining the relationship.”
Step 3. Define what you want with this temporary separation
After you bring it up, you need to explain to your partner what you expect from the breakup. This moment is not easy, but it is important that both have the same understanding so that expectations are aligned during this period.
- For example, if you think taking time off is the first step toward divorce, say, “Right now I'm trying to figure out what I want. However, if nothing changes between us, I can only see a permanent separation as a solution.”
- However, if you hope for a reconciliation and hope that the breakup will allow you both to reflect, you can say: “I know my request may hurt you, but since our relationship has gone wrong lately, I think we need some time. away from each other to find out how we can fix the situation. I really want us to get along again and I hope the marriage is strengthened after this separation.”
Step 4. Let your partner react
This novelty can hurt more than a slap in the face, even if your spouse was already aware of the relationship's problems. Allow him to process the matter, as the first reaction is likely to be explosive, and also let him expose his side and how he sees the issue before making a decision for both of you.
- After the initial shock wears off, start asking questions to find out what the other person is feeling and thinking, such as, “What do you think? Sound like a good idea in your opinion?”.
- Your partner may agree and see the temporary separation as a positive thing, but maybe your partner thinks otherwise and refuses to accept it.
Step 5. Discuss goals
With a marriage in crisis, both sides start to have expectations of the other so that the relationship gets back on track. Do your homework and come prepared with some ideas about your needs - maybe your partner already has his own.
- Ideally, goals should be concrete and specific. It's no use demanding something like "be less distant" because it's not concrete enough. Much better is: "Talk to me when you get home from work and text me at lunch."
- Be willing to listen to your partner's needs too. It's nice that each has three or four goals for the other.
- Both need to be willing and committed to trying to achieve the goals without taking out on the other. That is, you cannot blame your failure on someone else's failure.
Step 6. Decide ground rules
After the couple has had the conversation about the breakup, they need to have one more, this time about the rules involved. You need to decide if you're going to continue living together right now, how you're going to pay the bills, and who's going to do what for the kids.
- Another point to decide is whether you are allowed to date other people and what the limits are. Let's say you expect a reconciliation – in which case, it's better to forbid casual dating and sex.
- The rules must be well defined. When you deal with sharing time with the children, stipulate who they will be with each period of each day of the week.
- Don't forget that these rules can have consequences in a possible divorce, such as the custody process. Generally, primary custody is with the parent who spends the most time with the child. Consult with an attorney to ensure the division is fair to all.
- Maybe you need a little help in laying out these ground rules. Do you believe in the possibility of returning? So, both must make concessions. Write the standards. so that the two are aware of everything.
Step 7. Don't let the situation drag on
Set a deadline for separation together. It can be three months, a semester or a year. It's possible to extend the separation after setting a date, but it's not a good idea to stick with it. Do you keep asking for time all the time? Maybe it's time to end the marriage. When neither individual in the couple cares anymore about fighting for the relationship, it's a sign that it's not worth it.
Part 2 of 3: Working on the Separation
Step 1. Consider therapy
Is the situation too complicated? A person outside the relationship can help with mediation. The presence of a therapist helps to calm tempers and reach a consensus. Both have to be fully involved, work hard, and put marriage first.
- Ask your closest friends for a referral from a couples therapist. It is very likely that a friend has gone through the same problem and knows the right professional for you.
- The psychologist is able to have a more objective point of view because he sees things from the outside and is not emotionally involved in conflicts. Let your partner know that you are considering seeing a therapist.
- An alternative to doing mediation work is to talk to a priest or a pastor if you are religious.
- Say something like, "Considering everything I've said about our breakup, I think it's important that we go to a mediator. I was thinking about having couples therapy once a week to try to resolve our issues. I want to a lot that works and maybe we need outside help to make that happen."
Step 2. Hire a lawyer
Having a lawyer is also very important at this point. Ask friends who have already faced divorce if they can give a referral. The lawyer will show you the legal consequences of the separation so that you know what to expect. Also, he can act as a mediator if you need to.
- Take a look at the ratings and recommendations that exist on the internet. Make an appointment with the attorney before hiring him. Ask if he could work as a mediator if the need arises and if he has experience with couples who are taking a break. It is essential to have a good relationship and trust the lawyer.
- As stated earlier in the ground rules step, remember that anything you do now could have an impact on a possible divorce. Decisions made at this stage about child care can be taken into account in the judicial definition of custody.
Step 3. Don't stop talking to each other
If you don't talk to each other during this time of separation, it won't be possible to resolve the issues. Do you really want a reconciliation? Talk about the situation, preferably in the presence of a psychologist.
- Give it a call twice a week. Set specific topics when talking. Communication over the phone reduces the emotional charge a little. If you are very sensitive, start with text messages and then move on to calls.
- Have you decided to start couples therapy? Use it to maintain communication.
Step 4. Don't talk to just anyone about the breakup
Of course, it's okay to talk about it with your closest friends and relatives, but it's not a case of talking to everyone on social media. You're still seeing if things are going to work out, so too much exposure (to all your friends and colleagues, including even those boring people who studied with you a long time ago) is not a good thing. Everything should be restricted to you and your spouse (and the therapist, if applicable).
Part 3 of 3: Understanding What You're Feeling
Step 1. Think about your feelings
It is obvious that you are feeling that there is something wrong with the relationship. However, it is not enough to have a general notion, you have to be able to point out the reasons. So take some time to think about what went wrong in your marriage.
- Do you still have fun together, laugh and have the same goals? Sexual relationships are also an important point.
- Pay attention to how you communicate. Is there a problem with your ability to talk things over? Is it possible to identify when this started?
- Also take a look at how you take care of each other. People who are happily married like to do things for their partner. Do you think you're doing everything, both emotionally and physically? Perhaps this is a very important part of the problem: Your partner is not holding on to the end of the marriage.
Step 2. Speak in a concrete way
Did you find out why you are unhappy? To be honest with the other person, describe in detail what is not working. The best thing you can do once you understand the situation is to set concrete goals and ask your partner to do the same.
- For example, you may be dissatisfied because you think the other person doesn't pay attention to you anymore.
- A clear goal would be to spend more time together at least twice a week.
- Think of three goals to talk to your partner about.
Step 3. Define what you want with this time you are apart
Are you almost decided to divorce? This is the kind of thing you need to think about in advance. But it's okay if you really want to take advantage of this separation to reflect on whether you want to move forward with marriage.
Step 4. Think about duration
Most of the time, couples who take a break set the length of the break. In the end, people decide whether to resume the relationship or to separate permanently. Psychologists believe that three months is a good break. Anyway, think about it before talking to your partner and find a good reason for the chosen duration.
- For example, you might find it better to have six months to assess your feelings.
- Another possibility is to allow time for three months for the other person to have the opportunity to change their behavior. If she doesn't show progress, you can opt for divorce.
- It is also possible to reassess the situation after the allotted time has passed. You can postpone the decision to another date if both are still in doubt.